Often when I buy bananas they’re still unripe. I let them sit on the counter for a few days, until they turn from green into gold. But if I’m not paying attention, they begin to spot. One spot morphs into many, a day or two passes, and before I know it they’re brown. I don’t like eating brown bananas, but their overripe flesh makes for better baking. So when I found myself with a couple of otherwise inedible bananas yesterday, I decided to put them to good use. Today’s dish comes courtesy of Fine Cooking and was modified not only to lower the sodium, but the fat. You’d never know it. These sticky buns are a circular slice of heaven. The dough is soft and sweet, filled with banana flavor (thank you brown stragglers!), flecked inside and out with walnut crunch and oozing with caramel. If they sound decadent, it’s because they are. You may find yourself letting those bananas overripen on purpose.
Yields 12 sticky buns.
SODIUM CONTENT: 22 mg per sticky bun
3 1/2 c. flour; more as needed
2 1/4 t. instant yeast
1/2 c. very warm low fat milk
3/4 c. mashed banana (about 1 large)
2 T. unsalted butter, melted; more for the bowl
2 T. sugar
1 large egg, beaten
3 T. unsalted butter, softened
1/2 c. finely chopped walnuts
1/3 c. brown sugar, packed
1 3/4 t. ground cinnamon
1 1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. water
2 T. unsalted butter; more for the pan
1/2 c. low fat milk
1 t. pure vanilla extract
1 c. walnut halves
First make the dough. In a medium bowl, combine 1 cup of the flour with the yeast. Stir in the warm milk.
Cover the bowl and let sit in a warm spot for 30 minutes.
Stir the banana, melted butter, sugar, and egg into the yeast mixture until well combined.
Stir in all but 1/4 cup of the remaining flour to make a stiff, shaggy dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface.
Knead, folding the dough over onto itself. If the dough sticks, sprinkle a small amount of the remaining flour onto the surface, and continue to knead until the dough becomes smooth and easy to handle, 5-10 minutes. Put the dough in a lightly buttered medium bowl, turn over once to coat with butter, then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled, 40-50 minutes.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a rectangle. Roll out into a (roughly) 16×11-inch rectangle.
Using a spatula or (better yet) your freshly washed fingertips, spread the soft butter evenly over the dough to within 1/8 inch of the edge. Combine the chopped pecans, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a small bowl; sprinkle the mixture evenly over the butter.
Roll up the dough lengthwise, starting from a long edge, then pinch the seam to seal.
Turn the log so that it’s seam side down. Trim off and discard 1/2 inch from each end, then cut the log into twelve (roughly) 1-1/2-inch pieces.
Generously butter a 12-cup standard muffin pan or two 6-cup jumbo muffin tins, then set aside.
Next make the caramel topping. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the sugar and 1/4 cup warm water and stir until the sugar dissolves, 2-3 minutes. Bring the syrup to a boil and cook, without stirring, until it begins to caramelize, gently swirling the pan to help the syrup brown evenly.
Once the syrup has turned an amber color, remove the pan from the heat and carefully stir in the cold butter. Stir in the milk, returning the pan to low heat if the mixture doesn’t smooth out immediately. Add the vanilla and stir until smooth. The sauce will be pretty thin; don’t worry, it’s fine. Set the sauce aside and let cool until just warm, about 15 minutes.
Divide the sauce evenly amongst the cups (roughly 3 T. each), then divide the walnuts evenly among the cups as well.
Place the dough slices over the sauce and nuts, cut sides down.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
In the morning, remove the sticky buns from the refrigerator and set in a warm location to rise. Let rise until roughly doubled in size, 1-1 1/2 hours.
Position racks in the center and lower third of the oven, then place foil on the lower rack to catch any overflowing caramel that may drip out while baking. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Once the buns have risen, remove plastic wrap and place pan/s on middle rack in oven.
Bake until the tops and edges of the buns are browned, 20-22 minutes.
Remove pan/s from oven and immediately invert onto (waxed paper lined) baking sheet/s, replacing any walnuts that fall off. Let cool for a few minutes so that no one burns their lips, then DIG IN!!