Gooey Pecan Sticky Buns
Sweet, sticky, tender and nutty, these gooey pecan sticky buns really do have it all! Serve them with big mugs of steaming hot coffee and watch them disappear in no time!
I’m on a cinnamon roll kick!
Swirls of cinnamon sugar nestled in between layers of homemade sweet dough, baked on top of a bed of the worlds easiest caramel and crunchy pecan mixture. These sticky buns are just out of this world. I’m not saying these might be better than any cinnamon roll I’ve ever had, except yeah, I kinda am. 🤷🏻♀️
It started with the cinnamon swirl bread I shared with you guys this past December, and after that, it’s like I just can’t get cinnamon scented baked goods out of my mind. Nevermind the fact that I can’t eat more than two bites of these sinfully delicious sticky buns. Why does everything that tastes good have to be so bad for you? I’ll just sit here and smell all the glorious smells wafting through my kitchen, urging me to take another bite. My sticky bun recipe makes nine rolls. Most recipes make about twelve, and if you do the math, that’s a whole lot of temptation to have around if you’ve got only two people in the house (one of which travels most of the week). With just nine rolls, I can keep a few in the fridge and tuck the rest away in the freezer for when I’m craving a warm, gooey, sticky bun on the fly.
Breakfast pastries take me to my happy place.
Making sticky buns is a lot easier than you think. Especially if you turn it into a Saturday morning activity with big or little helpers for a late breakfast. It starts with a basic sweet bread dough that you can make in your stand mixer painlessly. As I get older, I realize that yeasty bread and breadmaking doesn’t have to be as scary as I make it seem in my head.
If this is something you’re doing for the first time, I suggest reading through the directions at least twice before even starting. I’ve also divided the ingredients up according to where you’ll need them. There’s a dough section, a filling, and a topping section. Have all the ingredients ready to go if you plan on making this all in one go. I know it looks like you need a lot of ingredients, but most of them repeat in every section. You can also make the dough the night before, let it rise, then refrigerate it till you’re ready to make the sticky buns the next morning.
Okay, so like with most of my baked goods posts, I want to make sure you feel comfortable, so I’m going to break things down. If you’re someone who works with yeast often or feels comfortable making sticky buns from scratch, feel free to skip ahead.
Dough: First, let’s talk about the yeast starter. Just like the starter I made for our rosemary focaccia bread, we’re going to give the yeast a little time to bloom before adding it to our flour mixture. Start with the butter and let it melt completely. Add the milk and two teaspoons of sugar and heat it up again until it’s just lukewarm (about 110-115ºF). Sprinkle with the yeast and stir to combine. Now just let it hang out for 15 minutes or until the yeast starts foaming up. In the meantime, you can measure out the dry ingredients you need for the sticky bun dough and add them to the stand mixer.
Then, we’ll just combine everything in the mixer and let the machine knead the dough for around 6-8 minutes or until it comes together. Once you’ve done that, you need to allow it to rest for 1-2 hours or until it doubles in size. I have to tell you about my weird ways. I like to let the dough to rise in the dryer! Two things: Make sure the dryer is warmed up for about 5 minutes before popping the dough in and make sure you leave it off while the dough is rising. I don’t even want to think about the kind of mess you’ll come back to if you accidentally turn it on.
Then, you can refrigerate the dough if you plan on making the sticky buns the next morning or move right along and roll out the dough and start preparing the filling and the topping.
Filling: You’ll need your essential ingredients, a little butter, light brown sugar, and ground cinnamon. Make sure the butter is at room temperature for this step, it’ll make it way easier to spread the on that soft dough! Then, just combine the brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl and sprinkle it on the prepared dough. Be sure to leave a 1/2 inch border all the way around the edges. If you sprinkle the edges with cinnamon sugar, it makes it difficult to roll it up.
Topping: For the topping, we’re working with a quick microwave caramel sauce and pecan halves. You can use chopped pecans for these sticky buns too. I just happened to have the halves in my fridge, so I went with those. Now, to make the caramel, we’ll combine butter, salt, and sugar in a measuring cup along with one of the following: maple syrup, corn syrup, or golden syrup. I usually like to use corn syrup for this homemade caramel, but this time I went with golden syrup as I had some in the pantry. Use what you have, use what you like! Once you melt everything together pour it straight into your baking dish.
When the sticky buns are baked, you’ll need to flip them over onto a serving platter or another square dish before serving them. Try to do this quickly so that once you flip, all that gooey caramel just starts trickling down the sides of the buns.
Who needs cream cheese icing when you’ve got crunchy pecan and gooey caramel nestled on top of your rolls? A warm cup of coffee with these gooey sticky buns is a must.
- 6 tablespoons melted butter
- 3/4 cup milk (whole or 2%)
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar, divided
- 5 teaspoons instant (rapid rise) yeast
- 3 - 3 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 1 1/4 cup pecans (halves or chopped)
- 5 tablespoons butter
- 1/3 cup corn syrup (maple or golden work too)
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons softened butter
- 1/3 cup light brown sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- Yeast: place the butter in a 4-cup measuring cup and zap in the microwave until it melts. Measure the sugar out in a bowl. Add the milk and 2 teaspoons of sugar from the previously measured amount to the melted butter. Heat in the microwave for 30-40 seconds or until the milk reaches 105-110ºF. Sprinkle yeast over the top, stir to combine, let sit 15 minutes.
- Dough: Meanwhile, in the bowl of your electric mixer fitted with the dough-hook attachment, add what's remaining of the of sugar, 3 cups of flour, and kosher salt. Turn the mixer on briefly to allow the ingredients to combine. With the mixer on low, slowly pour in the activated yeast mixture; add the egg. When combined, increase the speed to medium. Run the mixer for 6-8 minutes or until the dough comes together. While the dough is mixing, drizzle a large bowl with a little oil and set aside. If the dough seems wet after 4 minutes of mixing, slowly add 1 tablespoon of flour at a time until it comes together (you can do this up to 4 times if necessary). Shape the dough into a ball using your hands and place it in the prepared bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, let rise in a warm place for 1-2 hours or until doubled in size. You can also refrigerate the dough once it rises if you plan on using this the next day, see notes for directions.
- Topping: When ready to bake, place the pecans in an 8x8 square baking dish. Place the butter, corn syrup, and sugar to a 2-cup measuring cup and heat it in the microwave until the butter melts. Stir to combine, sprinkle with salt. Pour the prepared caramel into the baking dish, set aside.
- Filling: Flour a flat surface and turn the dough out. Roll the dough out into a 10x15 inch piece. Spread the softened butter on top. In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle evenly over the dough, leaving a 1/2 inch border around the sides. Start rolling the dough gently but firmly. You don't want to wrap the roll too tight. Pinch the seams to contain the filling. Divide the dough into 9 equal pieces using a serrated knife or dental floss. Place the rolls in the prepared baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rise for another 30-45 minutes.
- Bake: Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 375ºF Bake the rolls for 23-27 minutes or until baked all the way through. You may need to cover the rolls halfway through, so keep an eye on them. Carefully place a serving platter on top of the baking dish and flip when you get them out of the oven. Serve warm.
- A dryer is a great place for your bread dough to proof. Heat the dryer on high for 4-5 minutes, turn off the dryer. And place your bowl inside, and do not open the dryer for 1 hour.
- If you'd like to make the sticky buns later, cover the dough, and place in the refrigerator. Allow the dough to come to room temperature before proceeding (tip: warm an oven to 200ºF. Turn it off, place the bowl inside the oven, covered with a tea towel and the door open just a cracker), it should come to room temperature within 20 minutes.