Baking with Ben: Banana Nutella Rolls & Sticky Buns

The sixth graders at our local middle school are assigned a project called SDL: Self Directed Learning.  They choose something they want to learn, find a mentor to help them and create a presentation about the experience.  Ben, a neighbor of mine, decided he wanted to learn how to bake.  Love that!!  I was thrilled when Ben's dad emailed me to ask if I would be Ben's baking mentor. What an honor!  I'm guessing The Cake Boss wasn't available. 

Ben's dad, coincidentally, was also my daughter's 3rd grade math teacher.  He worked math magic with her that year and I will be forever grateful.  So I was delighted to help a young person learn to bake and to return a little teaching magic.  A win win baking situation!  

Ben's directions were to make a recipe twice, so we settled on two variations of the same dough: cinnamon rolls and sticky buns.  Now, I decided to get in on the fun and make an "experimental" roll of my own; Banana & Nutella Cinnamon Rolls.  My friend Cathy at The Dutch Baker's Daughter had just made some Banana Bread Cinnamon Rolls and they intrigued me.  I wondered if you could fill them with Nutella...mmm!  Who doesn't love a little Nutella with your banana?

I started with my trusty Betty Crocker Cinnamon Roll Recipe (Betty Crocker's New Cookbook, 1996) that I've tweaked a little bit over the years.  Instead of adding the yeast to the dry ingredients, I proof it first with the warm milk and butter.  I also like to use some whole wheat flour in the recipe.  In the Banana Nutella Cinnamon Rolls I used a blend of white whole wheat flour and bread flour.  Ben used all bread flour in his sticky buns and cinnamon rolls.  

All the doughs start the same way:

Warm the milk and butter, measure and mix the dry ingredients, proof the yeast and mix it all together.

I add banana puree to the Banana Nutella Roll Dough:

I press three bananas through a sieve to make a smooth banana puree.  I like how this removes the tiny seeds and strings of the banana.  For banana bread, I love all that extra texture, but for these rolls I just wanted banana smoothness.  I add this puree to my yeast mixture and then mix in my dry ingredients.


Knead, knead, knead & rise:

Knead the dough for 5 minutes or until it is smooth and elastic.  Find a warm place for the dough to rise.  We tested out the proof setting on my oven.  It made for some super happy dough!  In the past, I have placed my dough in the oven (turned off) on an upper rack and on a rack below it I place a baking dish in which I pour hot water.  Close the oven door and it makes a nice proofing steam bath.  I have also set the dough on the shelf above my TV cable box which gives off a lot of heat.  

Ben makes the topping for the Sticky Buns:

He heats brown sugar, butter and corn syrup to make the gooey sticky bun topping.  The topping gets poured into the baking dish.  Ben likes raisins, so he added a few.  You can make them plain, with raisins and/or with nuts.

Punch down the dough, fill and roll:

The sticky buns and cinnamon rolls are spread with soft butter and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar.  The Banana Nutella Rolls are spread with Nutella and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar.

Use dental floss to cut the rolls:

I showed Ben how to use plain dental floss to cut the soft dough.  Just slide the floss under the dough, criss cross across the top and pull.  Cutting with a knife can squish the soft dough (or maybe my knives just need a good sharpening)!

Place in pan & allow to rise again:

The sliced rolls get placed in greased pans.  The sticky bun rolls get placed on the gooey topping mixture.  Put them back in their happy warm spots and allow them to rise again.

Bake until golden brown...mmm!

These swirled beauties are gorgeous now...but there's one more step for each:

Ben and I inverted the sticky buns to let the gooey topping drip all over the top of the buns - oh my!  He decided on a glaze for the cinnamon rolls.  YUM!!

It's a banana buttercream glaze for these lovelies:

I mixed some banana puree, butter, vanilla & sugar to make a yummy glaze that adds more delicious banana flavor to these rolls.

I know you want some!  Look at that little crumb, it's calling to you!

Banana & Nutella Cinnamon Rolls

Makes 15 rolls

2 cups white whole wheat flour

2 1/2 - 3 1/2 cups bread flour, plus additional for rolling surface

1/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 packages active dry yeast

1 cup warm milk (115 - 125 degrees)

1/3 cup butter melted & cooled

3 ripe bananas

1 large egg, slightly beaten

2/3 cup Nutella (chocolate hazelnut spread)

2 tablespoons cinnamon sugar

additional butter for greasing pan

Banana Buttercream Glaze:

1 ripe banana

¼ cup unsalted butter, softened

¼ teaspoon vanilla

2 cups confectioners’ sugar

Mix together 2 cups white whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup bread flour, sugar and salt in medium bowl.  Warm milk and butter to 115 - 125 degrees.  Place in large bowl.  Sprinkle yeast over warm milk and gently swirl.  Allow to sit about 5 minutes to proof.  The yeast should look a little foamy and smell "yeasty".  Use a spoon to press the bananas through a sieve.  You should have about 1 cup of banana puree.  Add the banana puree and the egg to the yeast mixture then add the dry ingredients.  Mix by hand or use an electric mixer to combine.  Stir in enough remaining flour to make the dough easy to handle (should still be a little sticky).

Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes or until smooth and elastic.  You can sprinkle in a little more flour if needed.  Place in a greased bowl, turn greased side up and cover with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap.  Let rise in a warm place until doubled - about 1 - 1 1/2 hours.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Punch down dough and place on lightly floured surface.  Use your hands or a rolling pin to make a rectangle about 15 x 10 inches.  Spread dough with Nutella spread and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.  Roll rectangle up starting from the 15-inch side.  Cut roll into 15, 1-inch wide pieces and place in a greased 13 x 9 x 2 inch pan.  Cover and allow to rise in warm place for about 30 minutes or until double.

Bake for 30 - 35 minutes or until golden brown.

While the rolls are baking, make the banana buttercream glaze.  Press the ripe banana through a sieve with a spoon to make about 1/4 cup banana puree.  Use an electric mixer to combine banana, butter and vanilla until smooth.  Add sugar and mix until well combined.  Allow the rolls to cool for about 10 minutes then spread with the glaze.  Serve the glazed rolls warm.

Note: These are even good for a few days after they're baked.  I like to rewarm them a bit before I eat them.  Also, if you intend to eat them over a few days, you can keep the glaze in the fridge and just glaze the rolls as needed.


Baking with Ben

I hope you enjoy the recipes!  Thanks for spending some time in the cloud with me!  Tina ( :