#15, Caramel Rolls – Anise-spiced Banana version
One of the first recipes I remember actually making on my own, and having a very undeserved sense of pride in doing so, was after I learned how to make Cinnamon Rolls in… I wanna say middle school, could have been sooner. I had yet to ever revisit making them, except in college when we made Caramel Rolls or Sticky Buns (however you wanna call it). The recipe stuck out in the book this week, probably since I’m home alone and feeling very much the urge to make sweet and naughty things, so I’ll indulge myself with this yeast-raised sweet bread; Caramel version of course, I don’t understand anyone who thinks it isn’t superior to just plain with frosting.
I’m putting a couple twists on things, however. First, instead of just the Cinnamon-Sugar dusting on the inside, think I’ll use up yet another super-ripe banana in my freezer and make a banana-cinnamon paste, flavored with a bit of star anise for a fun kick; also added some to the caramel. Speaking of which, I’m not using the caramel recipe in the book either; I want to, but I don’t have any corn syrup. Which is fine because, as I’ve found out, our options in the caramel roll world are quite numerous. There are a variety of techniques one can choose; my baking teacher made this sort of brown sugar-butter paste thing that was spread on the bottom. Aside from that, there’s the simplest mixing of brown sugar and melted butter, mixes utilizing corn syrup, or, and I’m thankful for finding this recipe since it was exactly the kind I was looking for, honey and spices mixed with the sugar and butter. It leads for a fun drive to experiment and find your favorite style in the future.
This particular dough recipe is actually a lighter ‘enriched’ style, using only a small amount of eggs and fat for tenderness, as opposed to the ‘rich’ category that brioche usually occupies; basically, super enriched. One can make this with the higher fat contents, in fact that’s what I plan to do next time since I looooooves the idea of a cinnamon or sticky bun with that buttery crisp edge. But for now, to the proper basics and all-around. Oh, and I’m doing the kind with nuts on it too.
Notes before continuing: I’m doing the milk substitute version, since mine decided to curdle and I had plenty of milk powder; if you’d like to use milk, or buttermilk, swap water and powdered for 9-10oz of the liquid.
Banana Caramel Rolls
6½ Tb/3.25oz Sugar
1 tsp/0.25oz Salt
5 ½ Tb/2.75oz Butter or Margarine, room temp
3 Tb/1oz Milk Powder
1 large/1.65oz Egg
1 tsp/0.1oz Vanilla Extract
1 cup/8oz Water, slightly warmed
3½ cups/16oz Bread Flour
6 Tb Butter, melted
5/8 cups Brown Sugar, firmly packed
1/6 cup Honey
¼ tsp Salt
1/8 tsp Ground Cinnamon
½ tsp Ground Star Anise
¼ tsp Black Pepper
½ – 1 cup Roasted Nut of your choice, whole or roughly chopped
- Cream together Salt, Sugar, Butter, and Milk Powder with mixer paddle attachment until ‘fluffy’
- Add in Egg and Vanilla, scraping down sides, and beat until mixed and smooth
- Mix Yeast and Water, leaving for 5 minutes to bloom
- Transfer to mixing bowl, with Flour, and mix on low-medium speed until everything comes together in a mass
- Switch out paddle with dough hook and start mixing on medium speed for 10 minutes, until dough is smooth, tacky, and barely sticky, adding flour as needed. It will still likely stick to the bottom of the bowl, look for it to pass the Windowpane Test
- Transfer to lightly oiled bowl, let bulk ferment 2 hours, until doubled in size
- While this is happening, make your Filling and Caramel. Combine the ripe Banana and all other ingredients in a bowl, mashing and mixing thoroughly into a consistent paste
- Separately, whisk the warm Butter, Brown Sugar, Honey, and Spices until smooth and saucy
- Spray counter with light mist of oil, transfer proofed dough to surface
- Lightly dust top and rolling pin with flour and roll out to 14”x12” (for larger buns) or 18”x9” (for smaller), the dough should end up 2/3” thick
- Spread your banana-spice paste evenly over the surface, stretching to the edges
- Roll up into a log, from the short end but really it’s up to you depending on thickness desired
- Cut log into 8-12 pieces at 1¾” lengths (for larger size) or 12-16 and 1¼”
- Spread Caramel along bottom of your baking pan/s, sprinkle with Toasted Nuts of your choice
- Lay rolls spiral-down in pan, leaving space between each, spray top with oil, and cover loosely with plastic to proof, 75-90 minutes, until dough has grown into each other
- Preheat oven 350F
- Move proofed dough to oven, sans plastic wrap of course, and leave to bake 30-40 minutes until developed an even, deeper golden color on top
- Remove and let rest on counter 5-10 minutes
- Place a larger pan upside-down on top of rolls, carefully grip edges, and quickly and smoothly flip both pans upside-down so that the still-hot rolls drop out caramel-size up. Spoon any dripping sauce back on top
- Pull some of the big suckers apart and enjoy while still warm! So good
What Have I Learned This Time?
Less Cinnamon, more ‘other spices’ required when trying to adjust flavors in something like this noticeably. Note, I’ve already made some adjustments in the recipe that SHOULD work if you wanna try it; otherwise just use all Cinnamon and the sugar.
At times, when not consuming caramel at the same time, I actually WAS able to get the banana, but I think I’d need even MORE just to make it really be a distinctive element.
Caramel Rolls are addicting… I seriously tried eating just HALF of one of these really big-ass buns on two occasions… during the same day… -cough- and both times ended up just consuming the whole thing. I’m pretty sure it’s due to that pull-apart aspect that just leads you going round and round and already eating ¾ before you know it so why not finish with the best part, the center?
Using a wider chef’s knife or something similar actually made for easy, clean cutting of the soft and stretchy dough, as opposed to trying more delicate, long slices.
Apparently caramel rolls are cooked longer than Cinnamon Rolls; I believe it’s because, in reality, the dough itself doesn’t need as much time, but one gives extra to ensure the caramel gets cooked to a certain point. Which I think is a bit bull, because I would rather have a caramel that’s still soft and gooey and running sauce-like over the thing, as opposed to it setting up into that firm almost ‘candied’ structure, though I do understand that’s a personal thing, and it still was quite addictive and good like that! But then again, I did also use a different caramel recipe; perhaps the one with corn syrup really needed some extra time to actually caramelize.
You ever see those absolutely gigantic cinnamon/caramel rolls that some diners serve, perhaps featured on TV? I now realize they’re probably not even that hard to make; just probably need to roll it out a little thicker, with less width and more length so as to roll it out into bigger, gigantic rounds. Now I really want to make one… a good reason to return for a Cinnamon Roll article huh?
Well I was going to use the last part about the ‘giant’ rolls in here, but it fit better for a quick personal learning factor. I will say that having smaller rolls would be also quite beneficial… this batch gave me 8 individual pieces, and after the first day I had… 3 left. One of which I had for breakfast the next morning. So it was probably a good thing I gave the other two away to friends. And now I’m off to making a coconut milk custard to fill my sweet tooth’s incessant demands.
Does the Dough Like Me Yet?
We’re certainly sweeties (yuck yuck yuck), for once it’s the other things that I feel the need to adjust and play with. I almost struggled at one point, pretty sure the dough was too hydrated while it was kneading, but I think I adjusted it with enough flour rather well.