Baking with Beer: Brew-Infused Apple Sticky Buns
For this installment of cooking with beer, I would like to introduce our latest contributor, food maven Amy Strauss of The Town Dish and apples and cheese, please fame. She brings us a wholly original idea that, if you have the patience and the drive, will deliver an amazing beery desert.
Let’s face it–the spring and summer months have done nothing for your Pennsylvania Dutch-inspired figure. If you’re attempting to stock-pile some winter weight and become the voluptuous, meat-on-your-bones urban crusader that you’ve always dreamed of, what you’ve been doing isn’t cutting it.
But, I’m here to help. When it comes to desserts (i.e. where you’re going to pack on those pretty pounds) the local Dutch do not mess around. The traditional sweet treats of my heritage are laced with vats of butter and sugar, brimming in beauty and packing serious, worth-risking-any-diet calories.
If you aim to attempt any of their meticulous and detail-oriented (I repeat: they do not mess around) recipes, your best bet is to try the “holy grail” of Dutchie delights: Sticky Buns.
With a two-day undertaking, including time spent kneading the dough and breaking for it to rise–multiple times, the gooey and gorgeous pull-apart bread is well-worth replacing any weekend plans.
After several test runs of my grandmother’s recipe for the buns, I decided to spike her how-to with two additional ingredients: beer and apples. While I am sure she is rolling over in her grave right now, especially since she’s missing out on the brew-infused party, these key ingredients work wonders for the already-perfect pastries.
Find below the 21st century rendition of Naomi Strauss’ Sticky Buns. I suggest using a pale ale, particularly an extra-special bitter, to swirl within the dough and the topping. I prefer using Fuller’s ESB for its caramelized nose and toasted malt, semi-sweet taste–all of which lightly sneaks into the finished product. Source the tartest apples that you can spot for this fatty treat (Cortland or Honeycrisp), as they are able to alone perk up the signature tastes of the sweet. This recipe makes 20–24 buns.
1 cup mashed potatoes
¼ cup lukewarm salted water from boiled potatoes
1 packet dry yeast
1 cup ESB Beer (Fuller’s ESB recommended)
1 cup warm milk
6 cups all-purpose flour (an additional 1–2 cups may be needed, depending on the dough’s texture)
2 cups sugar
2 cups brown sugar
2 ½ cup butter
2 T. molasses
2 T. water
3 cups of apples, peeled and chopped
2 dashes of cinnamon
Prep 1 cup of mashed potatoes (1 large potato or 2 medium-sized potatoes generally make 1 cup of mashed potatoes). Boil potatoes with a dash of kosher salt. Reserve ¼ cup of the boiled water and allow it to come to room temperature.
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup mashed potatoes
- 1 cup warm milk
- ¾ cup ESB
In a small bowl, mix the reserved salted potato water with 1 yeast packet. Mix the liquid mixture into the dough mixture. Cover the well-combined dough and let stand in a warm place for 2 hours.
After 2 hours, add the following ingredients to the dough:
- ½ cup butter, at room temperature
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 cup sugar
Work in enough flour to create a smooth dough and knead for about 10 minutes. [You will want to add flour cup by cup; you will need approximately 3–5 cups of flour for this step.] Re-cover the dough and let rise overnight in a warm place until dough has doubled in size.
Divide the dough in half and roll each half into a rectangle shape, about a half-inch thick. Cover the surface of each half with the following:
- ½ cup butter, room temperature
- ½ cup brown sugar
- generous sprinkling of cinnamon
Roll the dough into a log, similar to a jelly roll. Set aside.
- 1 ½ cup butter
- 1 ½ cup brown sugar
- 2 T. molasses
- ¼ cup ESB
Pour the resulting syrup into parchment paper-lined pans, about ¼-inch deep. (I suggest your pans be at least two inches tall to allow for the expansion of the dough.) Sprinkle chopped apples sporadically throughout the pan(s).
Cut the logs of dough into section that are one-inch thick. Place the pieces in the pan, on the syrup. Let the dough in the pan rise again, for about two hours.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the buns for 30 minutes, until bottoms are golden brown. Remove from oven. Let the buns sit in the pans for 5 minutes and then immediately, flip the buns upside down so the “sticky” is on top.
Serve immediately or delay until they come to room temperature. Store in an airtight container for up to two days.