Last weekend, the glaring difference between my social comfort level (perilously low) and Jeff’s social comfort level (dangerously high) was especially apparent. After about an hour spent at home on Saturday morning, he was bored silly and went online, listing off ideas of activities we could get out and do. My biggest goal for the day was to not leave the house, and maybe make sticky buns. Big goals. I shoot for the stars.
I guess we both won that day . . . he wore me down with nonstop pestering, so we ended up going to a kids expo (Forrest had a blast collecting pencils from all the booths—why they were all handing out pencils, I’m not sure, but he has an impressive pencil collection now), and I still had enough time at home to make my sticky buns. Now that I think about it, Jeff got what he wanted PLUS he got to enjoy sticky buns, and I only got sticky buns (plus being forced out of the house against my will). I think he got the better end of the deal.
I had a bunch of dried cranberries left over from making Cranberry White Chocolate Scones, and thought these would be a great way to use some of them up. These sticky buns turned out wonderfully—the dough contains enough wheat flour to make me feel slightly less guilty about eating nothing but sticky buns for 24 hours (seriously though, that happened), but they’re still decadent and gooey and sweet, as any self-respecting sticky bun should be.
Cranberry Sticky Buns
adapted from King Arthur Flour
warm water (to make 2 cups)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup nonfat dry milk
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon salt
2 1/2 – 3 1/2 cups white flour
6 tablespoons softened butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup dried cranberries
Break the eggs into a liquid cup measure and add enough warm water to measure 2 cups total. Pour the eggs and water into a stand mixer and mix well with paddle attachment. Add 2 tablespoons sugar and yeast; mix to combine and let sit until frothy (about 5-10 minutes). Add melted butter, dry milk, wheat flour, and salt; mix well. Switch to dough hook and slowly add the white flour 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition, until dough forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Knead in mixer for 5-10 minutes.
Remove dough from mixer bowl. Wash and dry bowl, and grease with 1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil, rotating the bowl so the bottom and sides are coated with oil. Shape the dough into a ball and place it in the bowl, turning it over so it’s coated with oil. Cover and let rise until double, about 1-1 1/2 hours. (We keep our house a little on the chilly side, so to make sure my bowl and dough are warm enough to rise, I get a dishtowel damp and toss it in the microwave for about 30 seconds, then cover the bowl with the warmed towel. I think this helps it rise a little better.)
When the dough has doubled in size, punch it down and let it rest while you prepare your pans. Grease 2 9-inch cake pans (or glass pie plates) with 1 tablespoon softened butter each (this is out of the 6 tablespoons softened butter called for in the ingredients list; there will be 4 tablespoons remaining). In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle about 2 tablespoons brown sugar mixture into each greased pan.
Roll the dough out into a large rectangle about 1/4-1/2 inch thick, and spread with remaining 4 tablespoons softened butter. Sprinkle with remaining brown sugar mixture, and top with dried cranberries. Starting at a long end of the rectangle, roll it up tightly and pinch the long edge to seal. Use a length of thread to slice the log into 1-inch rolls, and place them in the prepared pans. Cover and let rise again for 30-45 minutes.
Place the pans in COLD oven, set the timer for 15 minutes, and turn the oven on to 400 degrees. After 15 minutes, reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake an additional 13-22 minutes or until buns are golden brown. Remove from oven and, while still hot, run a knife around the outside of the pan to loosen the buns. Flip the pans over onto a plate and let them sit for a few minutes so all the sauce at the bottom of the pans will drain onto the buns. Remove the pans and enjoy!