“We had these buns at New York’s Bouchon Bakery and really wanted to recreate something similar for our shop. We tested and retested recipes, but failed to capture the bun’s essence, so on our shop’s opening day, we simply slammed some caramel in the bottom of our pie pans, then dressed the hot buns with even more caramel when we pulled them out of the oven and voilà! This is the greatest pastry in the shop.”
WHAT YOU NEED
300g caster (superfine) sugar
100g liquid glucose
5g sea salt
300ml thin (pouring) cream
75g softened butter, plus 300g cold butter
700g strong flour
55g fresh yeast, or 23g active dried yeast
2 teaspoons sea salt
6 egg yolks
200g dark brown sugar
200g almond meal
Grated zest of 1 orange
Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix to a smooth paste.
WHAT TO DO
1. Place the sugar and glucose in a large heavy-based frying pan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved.
2. Increase the heat and cook the caramel for a few more minutes, until it is a dark amber colour. Once you have your desired colour, deglaze the pan by carefully adding the butter and salt, which will slow down the colour progression.
3. Remove from the heat and add the cream in a few additions – beware, at this stage the caramel likes to spit molten blobs of lava at you, so make sure you use a long spoon; using a big pan is also better insurance against spitting.
4. The caramel will keep in an airtight container for up to 1 week in the fridge or at cool room temperature.
1. It is preferable to start the dough the day before, as it will be easier to roll and turn; it also needs to be cold to take the butter.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the 75g of softened butter with the flour, yeast, sugar, salt, egg yolks and 400ml of water. Mix to a firm dough, then wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge overnight.
3. Pull out the dough and roll it out into a large square about 2-3cm thick.
4. Place the 300g of cold butter between two sheets of baking paper. Using a rolling pin, roll out the butter, to soften it to the same consistency as the dough. Then roll the butter into an even 1cm sheet.
5. Incorporate the butter into the dough by placing the butter on top of the dough, in the centre. Now fold the corners of the dough in, as if making an envelope.
6. Turn the dough by rolling it out into a long strip about 2-3 cm thick, then folding each end into the centre, then folding over again. Turn the dough 90 degrees between each turn, so the dough resembles a book, and the opening is to the right. The end result is a square of dough four layers thick.
7. You’ll need to repeat this rolling/turning process three-times, resting the dough in the fridge for at least 1 hour between each go. Do not attempt to speed up the process by shortening the chilling times, or you’ll end up with an inferior pastry.
1. Roll the dough into a large rectangle about 6mm thick.
2. Rub the schmear all over the dough, leaving about 5cm free at the top end.
3. Add most of the pecans, and start rolling up from the bottom end; just before you complete the roll, brush the top edge with a little water to secure it to the roll. Cut the dough into 12 buns, about 4cm wide.
4. Grease 12 10cm metal pie tins. Add lashings of the caramel (but not all of it) and the remaining pecans. Place the buns in the tins and leave to prove in a warm place for 40 minutes, or until lightly risen.
5. Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
Bake the buns for about 20 minutes, until they are golden brown and any excess caramel has begun to burn on the tray. Using tongs, flip the buns from the pie tins as soon as they leave the oven.
7. While still hot, brush with more caramel.