January's second Barefoot Bloggers pick was selected by Melissa at Made By Melissa and was Ina's Easy Sticky Buns from her Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics cookbook (page 240). I have never really been a cinnamon roll or sticky bun person--they are fine but not something I go out of my way to eat, however, I always like to try to make things I haven't made before so I was game to try them. Ina's sticky buns are made using puff pastry and lots of butter and while they looked and sounded delectable they didn't seem the best way for me to stick to a healthy eating plan. Although they can't be made into the best food choice, I wanted to lighten them up, reduce the butter a lot, lessen a bit of the sugar, and add some more nutrients, (flax seed, walnuts and dried blueberries), to them. My changes are in red below. (Note: Not wanting to have a bunch of these around, I reduced the recipe by half so all of my changes are for a half batch)
Ina says: "We used to make really delicious sticky buns at Barefoot Contessa, but they took two days to make because the yeast dough needed to rise overnight in the refrigerator. I was dying to find a way to make them easier, so I decided to try baking them with Pepperidge Farm puff pastry dough, instead. OMG are they good … and they’re really easy to make! Light, flaky dough filled with brown sugar, toasted pecans, and sweet raisins — my friends go crazy when I make these."
Easy Sticky Buns
Back to Basics, Ina Garten
(Makes 12) (1/2 batch made 6)
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature (used 4 Tbsp)
1/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed (used a scant 1/4 cup)
1/2 cup pecans, chopped in very large pieces (used 1/4 cup mixed pecans and walnuts)
1 package (17.3 ounces/2 sheets) frozen puff pastry, defrosted for the filling (1 sheet)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled (1 Tbsp)
2/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed (1/4 cup)
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon (2 tsp)
1 cup raisins (1/2 cup mixed raisins and dried blueberries)
(2 tsp ground flax seeds)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 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 one sheet of puff pastry with the folds going left to right. Brush the whole sheet with half of 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, (2 tsp of ground flax seed), 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. 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.
Notes/Results: Good! They were plenty buttery and had great flavor even with my reductions, and I felt much better about eating them. I should have checked my sticky buns and pulled them out early (at about 25 minutes), as they were a bit brown on the outside. The flavor and texture on the inside were fine. The additions of walnuts, dried blueberries and flax seed were made to get some additional nutrients into these gooey little treats. Both flax seed and walnuts are good sources of Omega 3 fatty acids and blueberries are a good source of antioxidants. I sprinkled the ground flax seed on the puff pastry with the cinnamon and brown sugar and it was not at all noticeable in the roll itself. So while sticky buns will never be a "health food" and on my regular recipe rotation since they aren't something I would really ever crave, they are fine in moderation and I felt like I minimized the damage with my changes.