Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Successful Pecan Sticky Bun

After making those disastrous sticky buns, I am happy to say that my next attempt was quite successful. Cook's Illustrated came through for me again with a sticky bun that can be made weeks ahead and frozen, unbaked. We hauled these frozen buns (along with our own!) all the way to North Carolina and baked them up on New Year's Day.

Straight out of the oven they were gorgeous and browned and cinnamony.

Turn them over to find a delicious sticky goo!

Make the extra gooey pecan topping and you've got one sinfully delicious sticky bun!
So, if at first you don't succeed, try try again!

Sticky Buns with Pecans for Freezing
Makes twelve 3 1/2-inch buns. Published May 1, 2007 in Cook's Illustrated

3 large eggs at room temperature
3/4 cup
buttermilk at room temperature
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 ¼ teaspoons
table salt
2 ¼ teaspoons instant yeast
4 ¼ cups
unbleached all-purpose flour (21 1/4 ounces), plus additional for dusting work surface
6 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted and cooled until warm

Caramel Glaze:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
¾ cup
packed light brown sugar (5 1/4 ounces)
3 tablespoons corn syrup , light or dark
2 tablespoons heavy cream
table salt

Cinnamon-Sugar Filling:
¾ cup
packed light brown sugar (5 1/4 ounces)
2 teaspoons
ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves (I will omit this next time)
table salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter , melted

Pecan Topping:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup
packed light brown sugar (1 3/4 ounces)
3 tablespoons corn syrup , light or dark
table salt
1 teaspoon
vanilla extract
¾ cup pecans (3 ounces), toasted in a skillet over medium heat until fragrant and browned, about 5 minutes, then cooled and coarsely chopped

For the dough: In bowl of standing mixer, whisk eggs to combine; add buttermilk and whisk to combine. Whisk in sugar, salt, and yeast. Add about 2 cups flour and butter; stir with wooden spoon or rubber spatula until evenly moistened
and combined. Add all but about 1/4 cup remaining flour and knead with dough hook at low speed 5 minutes. Check consistency of dough (dough should feel soft and moist but should not be wet and sticky; add more flour, if necessary); knead at low speed 5 minutes longer (dough should clear sides of bowl but stick to bottom). Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface; knead by hand about 1 minute to ensure that dough is uniform (dough should not stick to work surface during hand kneading; if it does stick, knead in additional flour 1 tablespoon at a time).

Lightly spray large bowl or plastic container with nonstick cooking spray. Transfer dough to bowl, spray dough lightly with cooking spray, then cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and set in warm, draftfree spot until doubled in volume, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

For the glaze: Meanwhile, combine all ingredients for glaze in small saucepan; cook over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until butter is melted and mixture is thoroughly combined. Pour mixture into nonstick metal 13- by 9-inch baking dish; using rubber spatula, spread mixture to cover surface of baking dish. Set baking dish aside.

To assemble, store, and reheat buns: For filling, combine brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and salt in small bowl and mix until thoroughly combined, using fingers to break up sugar lumps; set aside. Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface. Gently shape dough into rough rectangle with long side nearest you. Lightly flour dough and roll to 16 by 12-inch rectangle. Brush dough with 1 tablespoon melted butter, leaving 1/2-inch border along top edge; with butter remaining on brush, brush sides of baking dish. Sprinkle filling mixture over dough, leaving 3/4-inch border along top edge; smooth filling in even layer with hand, then gently press mixture into dough to adhere. Beginning with long edge nearest you, roll dough into taut cylinder. Firmly pinch seam to seal and roll cylinder seam side down. Very gently stretch to cylinder of even diameter and 18-inch length; push ends in to create even thickness. Using serrated knife and gentle sawing motion, slice cylinder in half, then slice each half in half again to create evenly sized quarters. Slice each quarter evenly into thirds, yielding 12 buns (end pieces may be slightly smaller).

Arrange buns cut side down in prepared baking dish; cover tightly with plastic wrap and set in warm, draft-free spot until puffy and pressed against one another, about 1 1/2 hours. Place baking dish in freezer; store for up to 1 month.

To bake, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Remove buns from freezer, remove plastic wrap, wrap dish tightly with foil, and set on baking sheet. Bake buns for 30 minutes, then remove foil and continue to bake until golden brown and center of dough registers about 180 degrees on instant-read thermometer, about 20 minutes longer. Cool on wire rack 10 minutes; invert onto rimmed baking sheet, large rectangular platter, or cutting board. With rubber spatula, scrape any glaze remaining in baking dish onto buns; let cool while making pecan topping. For the topping: Combine butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt in small saucepan and bring to simmer over medium heat, whisking occasionally to thoroughly combine. Off heat, stir in vanilla and pecans until pecans are evenly coated. Using soupspoon, spoon heaping tablespoon nuts and topping over center of each sticky bun. Continue to cool until sticky buns are warm, 15 to 20 minutes. Pull apart or use serrated knife to cut apart sticky buns; serve.


  1. Now that's what I'm talking about!!!!...when you look the word "sticky bun" up in the dictionary yours is what should be there!!!!....I can close my eyes and almost taste them!

  2. Sticking my beak in here, but have you ever considered brioche for your sticky bun dough?

    The below link is a good recipe and tutorial.

    I have personally made the recipe, however I combine the sponge and dough stage into one. Just mix it all up in a KitchenAid then refrigerate the entire dough mass in a Ziplock bag. I have kept the dough refrigerated several days with no apparent ill effects.

    This particular recipe is an approximately a 45% butter to flour ratio. I dropped the butter to a 30% ratio (3 ounces instead of four). Brioche recipes for certain applications can contain up to 100% butter to flour ratio. The 30% ratio I believe creates a great sticky bun.
    Bobby Flay had a throwdown with a Boston sticky bun maker who uses brioche (do not do the recipe, it is seriously flawed)



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