Wolfgang Puck's Caramel-Pecan Cinnamon Rolls
An Oscar-Worthy Brunch Recipe
Wolfgang Puck has been serving the stars at the Oscars Governors Ball for over two decades and never fails to dazzle. Take a page from the celebrity chef and wow your guests with this drool-worthy brunch dish.
Makes 12 rolls.
Combine the milk and the yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer and stir to dissolve. Add the sugar and stir together until the sugar is dissolved. Add 2 cups of the flour and mix together using the paddle attachment of your mixer (or with a wooden spoon in a bowl). When the mixture is smooth, cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and allow to stand for 1 hour.
Add the eggs to the sponge, one at a time, and beat with the paddle attachment until incorporated, scraping down the sides after each addition. Add the remaining flour and salt. Change to the dough hook and knead at low speed for 1 minute, then at medium speed for 5 minutes, or until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl.
With the mixer at medium speed, add the room-temperature butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, and continue to knead until each addition is incorporated. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times by hand. The dough should be smooth and elastic. Shape into a ball. Rinse and oil your bowl, return the dough to it, rounded side down first, then rounded side up. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot to rise for 1 1/2 hours, until doubled.
When the dough ball has doubled in size, use your fist to punch it down in the bowl. Cover again and set in a warm place to rest for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, make the topping.
If using a muffin tin for the rolls: In a heavy saucepan, melt 6 tablespoons butter and stir in the light brown sugar, honey, and seeds from the vanilla bean. Stir in the 1½ cups of pecan halves and mix well. Spray muffin tins with pan spray, and spread the mixture evenly over the bottom of each cup.
If using a round frying pan or casserole for the rolls: Combine 6 tablespoons of the butter with the light brown sugar, honey, and seeds from the vanilla bean in a 12-inch chicken-fryer or metal casserole. Stir over medium heat until the butter and sugar have melted. Stir in the 1½ cups of pecan halves and mix well. Spread the mixture evenly over the bottom of the pan, remove from the heat, and set aside.
To shape the rolls, lightly flour a work surface. With a floured rolling pin, roll out the dough ball to a rectangle measuring about 9 x 18 inches. Brush evenly with the remaining melted butter and sprinkle on the cinnamon sugar. Sprinkle the chopped pecans evenly over the surface, and roll up the dough, starting at a long edge, like a jelly roll. With a sharp serrated knife, cut the log crosswise into twelve 1½-inch thick slices. Arrange them on top of the mixture in the muffin pans or in the pan or casserole. Cover with Pam-sprayed plastic wrap and leave at warm room temperature to rise for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Uncover the muffin tin or pan. Brush the rolls with milk and bake for 10 minutes at 400ºF. Turn the heat down to 375 degrees F and bake 15 to 20 minutes longer, until puffed and golden brown.
Unmolding the rolls:
Muffin tins: Place a sheet of parchment on a baking sheet. Remove the buns from the oven and invert immediately onto the parchment. Leave them alone for about 30 seconds, then lift the muffin tin. Do not touch the caramel -- it's very hot. Serve the rolls warm.
Pan or casserole: Remove from the oven and invert a large heatproof plate over the casserole. Using oven gloves or pads, hold the casserole and plate securely together with both hands and invert them onto a work surface. Leave them alone for about 30 seconds, to give the rolls and their topping time to unmold. Then, lift off the casserole and use a spatula to dislodge any of the pecan mixture still sticking to the pan and transfer it to the rolls. Serve the rolls warm.