Best Sticky Buns Recipe EVER – The Search is OVER!

Many years ago, I started this search and have been through several “promising” recipes, only to end up with dry and hard cinnamon buns.

I remember one such recipe where I discovered a mis-print in the cookbook (after the fact).  The recipe was supposed to require 2 teaspoons of yeast, but the cookbook print said 2 tablespoons!  I followed the cookbook thinking, well, that must be right…

OMG – have you ever seen the old “I LOVE LUCY” show where Lucy tries to bake bread and when she opens up the oven in her small kitchen the bread starts coming out of the oven until she is back up against the cabinet on the other side of the kitchen?  Well, that is what it felt like having used 2 tablespoons of yeast for those buns!  The dough just kept rising and rising and rising!  If I recall correctly, the recipe was supposed to make about a dozen cinnamon rolls, but I ended up with about 4 times that many – PLUS the size of the cinnamon rolls would put the “CINNABUN” rolls to shame!  Unfortunately, they were also hard as a rock…

😦

And thus started my quest for the best ever sticky bun recipe.  🙂

I discovered this “Winning Recipe” in a summer edition of Bon Appetit.  It was part of the Master Sweet Dough series of recipes, where they provided the base sweet dough recipe and then 5 variations on different rolls and breads that you could make with it.

You start with the base sweet dough recipe.  when you have prepared the dough, it will look like this before placing it into a greased bowl to rise.

Smooth and silky, stretch nicely and be easily removed from the dough hook and the bowl, though it will be a bit sticky.

The Ultimate Sticky Buns (as published in Bon Appetit’)

Topping

  • 1 3/4 cups chopped pecans (about 8 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted  butter
  • 3/4 cup (packed) dark brown  sugar (if you don’t have dark brown sugar – check out the recipe I posted on how to make it at home here)
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream – I didn’t have cream in the house, so I just used regular 1% milk, which worked just fine.
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely grated orange zest  (optional) – while this is optional, I highly suggest that you use the orange zest – it added just a hint of flavor that I think really took these sticky buns “Over the TOP”!

Buns

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room  temperature
  • 1/2 cup (packed) dark brown  sugar
  • 3/4t easpoon ground  cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated  nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • All-purpose flour (for  dusting)
  • 1 large egg
  • Coarse sea salt (such as  Maldon)
  • Special Equipment:

    An 8x8x2-inch metal baking pan.  (alternatively, you can use a couple of round cake pans)  I made the buns in two cake pans, putting one of the in the freezer to make later.  When ready to make the second pan of buns, remove from the freezer the night before and allow to thaw and rise (covered with plastic) on the counter over night, they should be ready to bake by the time you get up in the morning.

Preparation

Dough

  • Follow the Master Sweet Dough Recipe I posted here
  • Let dough rise in a warm, draft-free area until doubled in  size, 1–1 1/2 hours (or 2–2 1/2 hours if dough has been  refrigerated).
  • Chill dough for 2 hours.

Topping

  • Preheat oven to 350°. Spread out nuts on a rimmed baking  sheet. Toast until fragrant and slightly darkened, 10–12 minutes. Let cool  completely. Set 1 1/4 cups nuts aside for buns.
  • Melt butter in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat. Stir  in brown sugar, cream, honey, salt, and orange zest, if using. Bring to a boil,  reduce heat to medium, and simmer until glaze is golden brown and glossy, 3–4  minutes. Pour 1 cup of glaze into baking pan, tilting to coat bottom and sides.  Set aside remaining glaze. Sprinkle 1/2 cup toasted pecans over bottom of baking  pan and let cool.

Buns

  • Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter, sugar,  cinnamon, nutmeg, and kosher salt in a medium bowl until light and fluffy, 2–3  minutes. Set filling aside.
  • Punch down dough; transfer to a floured work surface. Lightly  dust top with flour. Follow our step-by-step guide for assembling buns with filling and 3/4 cup  pecans. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill buns and  remaining glaze separately. Store remaining pecans airtight at room  temperature.
  • Loosely cover pan with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel. Let  buns rise in a warm, draft-free area until doubled in size, 45 minutes to 1  hour, or 1 1/2–2 hours if dough has been chilled overnight.
  • Arrange a rack in middle of oven; preheat to 350°. Whisk egg  with 1/2 tsp. water in a small bowl. Brush tops of buns with egg wash.
    Bake,  rotating pan halfway through and tenting with foil if browning too quickly,  until buns are golden brown, filling is bubbling, and an instant-read  thermometer inserted into center of buns registers 185°, about 50 minutes. Let  cool for 5 minutes. Spoon remaining glaze over. Sprinkle 1/2 cup pecans over.  Let cool in pan on a wire rack.
  • Lightly sprinkle sea salt over.  (I forgot about the sea salt, so don’t worry if you don’t want to use it, they are fabulous even without it)

    Buns, right out of the oven, before topping them with the sauce and more nuts

    Finished buns, topped with sauce and nuts.

    Once the buns have cooled for about 5 minutes and you have added the sauce and nuts on top, I suggest you immediately invert them onto a plate, otherwise the bottom glaze will harden and stick to the pan, making them difficult to remove, and leave all that yummy goo and nuts in the pan.
    Serve buns warm or at room  temperature

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