At some point last year I had the “brilliant” idea that I was going to make cinnamon rolls with puff pastry dough. In my mind it seemed like the easiest possible thing so I didn’t bother to look up a recipe. I just unrolled the chilled dough and spread out a thick layer of butter, cinnamon, and sugar. Then I sliced the neat bundle into tidy little rolls, layered them in a pan, and tossed them in the oven. My last thought was undoubtedly a hearty self-congratulatory high five to myself before I began to make coffee.
But when the timer went off and I opened the oven door I had quite a shock. Each and every pastry had completely uncurled into a messy flat layer of gooey dough floating in a small lake of browned butter. Needless to say it was not a pretty site. I ended up tossing out my baked mistake and added the experience to my “kitchen disasters” list.
Then last week I saw Ina Garten whip up a batch of puff pastry based sticky buns. I sat with rapt attention waiting to see how she would keep the rolls from unfurling and felt a little sheepish when she nonchalantly based the entire recipe around the use of a muffin tin. When Ina’s husband Jeffrey took a gigantic delight filled bite of her finished product I knew exactly what I was going to make on Sunday morning.
Thankfully with Ina’s assistance, the sticky buns held their shape and turned out delicious, buttery, and appropriately messy. They definitely need to be consumed as soon as possible after baking as they become quite hard and unappetizing as time passes. So pour yourself a large glass of ice cold milk and enjoy a roll or two.
Easy Sticky Buns (Adapted from the recipe originally published in Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics: Fabulous Flavor from Simple Ingredients by Ina Garten)
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 cup pecans, chopped in very large pieces
1 package (17.3-ounces/ 2-sheets) frozen puff pastry, defrosted
For the filling:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup raisins
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place a 12-cup standard muffin tin on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the 12 tablespoons butter and 1/3 cup brown sugar. Place 1 rounded tablespoon of the mixture in each of the 12 muffin cups. Distribute the pecans evenly among the 12 muffin cups on top of the butter and sugar mixture.
Lightly flour a wooden board or stone surface. Unfold 1 sheet of puff pastry with the folds going left to right. Brush the whole sheet with the melted butter. Leaving a 1-inch border on the puff pastry, sprinkle each sheet with 1/3 cup of the brown sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons of the cinnamon, and 1/2 cup of the raisins. Starting with the end nearest you, roll the pastry up snugly like a jelly roll around the filling, finishing the roll with the seam side down. Trim the ends of the roll about 1/2-inch and discard. Slice the roll in 6 equal pieces, each about 1 1/2 inches wide. Place each piece, spiral side up, in 6 of the muffin cups. Repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry to make 12 sticky buns.
Bake for 30 minutes, until the sticky buns are golden to dark brown on top and firm to the touch. Be careful – they’re hot! Allow to cool for 5 minutes only, invert the buns onto the parchment paper (ease the filling and pecans out onto the buns with a spoon) and cool completely.