Banana Jam & Hazelnut Sticky Buns

Banana Jam & Hazelnut Sticky Buns

For those of you who aren’t already convinced to try a batch of my banana jam, today I’m bringing out the big guns. This recipe brings together all the best parts of cinnamon rolls and nutty banana bread, all in one sticky breakfast bun package. These are equally at home as a component of an epic brunch party spread, or simply on their own with a pot of hot coffee or tea, on a leisurely Saturday morning just because you love whoever you live with. Even if you live by yourself – you still gotta show yourself some love!

And really, this is a recipe for showing yourself some love on both ends of the spectrum. The kind of love that recognizes when it’s time to treat yo self, and the kind that takes care to supply your body with real nourishing ingredients. You get to enjoy a delicate texture while still feeling good about getting your whole grains, courtesy of my favorite whole-wheat pastry flour. Toasted hazelnuts take it to the next level of Special Brunchiness, although you can easily substitute almonds, walnuts, pecans, or whatever else you like; either way, you get an abundance of healthy fats.

Banana Jam & Hazelnut Sticky Buns

In my first attempt of modifying this recipe, I tried subbing my whole-wheat pastry flour 100% in place of all-purpose, and YEESH. What a disaster. The dough was sloppy, floppy, sticky, and impossible to work with. It was my worst kitchen fail in quite some time.

Because whole-grain flour contains wheat bran (the outer “husk” of the wheat grain), it has comparatively lower levels of gluten, displaced by the bran’s fiber. And beyond that, the fiber gets in the way between the existing gluten molecules, disrupting their ability to come together and make a doughy elastic structure.

I knew about these limitations, but I’ve had a good track record subbing whole-grain pastry flour in pancakes, muffins, even biscuits. So I went for it. I guess there’s only one way to find out that what might work well for simpler quickbreads doesn’t necessarily hold up to the structural demands of a yeasted dough. Isn’t learning grand? Anyway, for round two I adjusted the levels of liquid ingredients and compromised with the two flours 50/50, and it was a good balance.

These buns fall into the breakfast category of sweet-but-not-too-sweet. If I wanted to take them to the next level of sticky sweetness, I would whisk together a quick glaze of powdered sugar, milk, and another spoonful of the banana jam.

Banana Jam & Hazelnut Sticky Buns

As you can see, I really  wanted to fit all 16 of my buns into my 9-inch pan. Don’t be like me. When the buns don’t have ample room to expand, the texture suffers and you’ll be forced to bake longer to ensure the dense centers are cooked through. You’ll have better results putting 9 buns in a 8×8 pan, and the remaining 7 fit nicely into a 8 or 9-inch round cake or pie pan. You can even wrap one up and freeze it, unbaked, for future spontaneous brunching!

Banana Jam & Hazelnut Sticky Buns

Prep Time: 2 hours

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours, 25 minutes

Yield: 16 buns

Banana Jam & Hazelnut Sticky Buns

Adapted from Joy the Baker and The Pioneer Woman. Find instructions for perfectly roasted hazelnuts here.

1 1/2 cups milk
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast (1 envelope)
2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2/3 cup banana jam
1/4 cup melted butter and/or coconut oil
2/3 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts

In a Dutch oven or large pot over medium heat, combine the milk, sugar, and oil. Stir frequently to dissolve the sugar until the milk starts to steam slightly, just before it reaches the boiling point. Remove the pot from the heat and allow to cool until just lukewarm.

Stir in the yeast, whole-wheat pastry flour, and 2 cups of all-purpose flour. Cover the pot and let the dough rise for 1 hour, until doubled in size. Keeping the pot in a warm (but not hot) location will aid rising. Meanwhile, grease two baking dishes (8- or 9-inch round or square pans) with butter, coconut oil, or cooking spray. This is also a good time to roast and chop your hazelnuts.

When the dough has risen, mix in the remaining 1/3 cup flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. I find it easiest to gently knead it in by hand. Divide the dough into two pieces and place the first half on a lightly floured countertop (keep the other half in the refrigerator to avoid over-rising). Roll out the dough into a rectangle, roughly 8 by 12 inches. Spread the slab with half of the banana jam, then half the melted butter or coconut oil, and half of the hazelnuts. Roll the dough, starting on the rectangle's long side, into a tight cylinder. Slice the cylinder into 8 equal buns with a sharp knife or dental floss. Repeat the same process for the second half of the dough.

Let the rolls rest for 15 minutes at room temperature while you preheat the oven to 375. At this point you can also cover the rolls in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or freeze for later use. If baking after refrigerating, let the rolls rest at room temperature for 30 minutes before baking. If freezing, it is preferable to transfer the rolls to the refrigerator the night before you plan to bake them, and allow them the same 30-minute rest that morning.

Bake the rolls for 20-25 minutes or until golden and cooked through.

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