Pecan Honey Sticky Buns

I confess that I adore sweet rolls–in any shape or form. But, it is sometimes hard to find good ones. Really–it is. Don’t even give me a cinnamon roll from a cardboard tube. That is not even really fit for human consumption–sorry, I hate to break it to you. (Okay, maybe in an emergency.) I want good homemade sweet rolls or nothin’.

By the way, the dough is super easy to make–if you have a stand mixer. I used my Bosch for this and it was awesome. I’ve never made brioche dough before, but I will definitely make it again for a special occasion.

Now, every Dorie Greenspan recipe I have made (with the exception of the Brown Sugar Pecan Shortbread) has turned out marvelous–even the ones that aren’t in BFMHTY. So, of course, this was no exception. They were marvelous. But, if I may say so, a little too rich. My husband and I shared one for breakfast and that was all we needed. (I know this seems strange for me to say given that I could eat dessert for three meals a day.)

With the other half of the brioche dough, I made an alternate recipe using apricot jam and cream cheese for the filling. They were so amazing. My family and I had no problem eating those two by two. The remaining pecan rolls went to some grateful recipients at church on Sunday.

Pecan Honey Sticky Buns

From Baking: From My Home To Yours by Dorie Greenspan
Makes 15-16 buns

For the Glaze:
1 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1/4 cup honey
1-1/2 cups pecans (whole or pieces)

For the Filling:
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons (packed) light brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

For the Buns:
1/2 recipe dough for Golden Brioche loaves (see below), chilled and ready to shape (make the full recipe and cut the dough in half after refrigerating it overnight).

Generously butter a 9-x-13-inch baking pan (a Pyrex pan is perfect for this).

To make the glaze: In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring the brown sugar, butter, and honey to a boil over medium-low heat, stirring frequently to dissolve the sugar. Pour the glaze into the buttered pan, evening it out as best you can by tilting the pan or spreading the glaze with a heatproof spatula. (Next time I will cook mine a little longer–I think I would have liked it to be darker.) Sprinkle over the pecans.

To make the filling: Mix the sugars and cinnamon together in a bowl. If necessary, in another bowl, work the butter with a spatula until it is soft, smooth and spreadable.

To shape the buns:

On a flour-dusted work surface, roll the chilled dough into a 16-inch square. (I did a rectangle that was 16″ by about 12″.)

Using your fingers or a pastry brush, spread the softened butter over the dough. (Thanks to my husband for taking the above picture.)

Sprinkle the dough with the cinnamon sugar, leaving a 1-inch strip bare on the side farthest from you.

Starting with the side nearest you, roll the dough into a cylinder, keeping the roll as tight as you can.

(At this point, you can wrap the dough airtight and freeze it for up to 2 months . . . . Or, if you want to make just part of the recipe now, you can use as much of the dough as you’d like and freeze the remainder. Reduce the glaze recipe accordingly).

Here’s a few tips that I use when I make sweet rolls:

1. Use a ruler and a sharp knife to mark notches in the dough. For these I did every 1″ for the length of the roll.

2. Instead of using a knife to cut the sweet rolls, I always use twine or dental floss. My mom has done this for years and it works so much better than using a knife–you get a much cleaner cut.

With a chef’s knife, using a gentle sawing motion, trim just a tiny bit from the ends of the roll if they’re very ragged or not well filled, then cut the log into 1-inch thick buns. (Because you trim the ragged ends of the dough, and you may have lost a little length in the rolling, you will get 15 buns, not 16.) I didn’t trim the ends…I didn’t want to waste any of the dough.

Fit the buns into the pan cut side down, leaving some space between them.

Lightly cover the pan with a piece of wax paper and set the pan in a warm place until the buns have doubled in volume, about 1 hour and 45 minutes.

The buns are properly risen when they are puffy, soft, doubled and, in all likelihood, touching one another.

Getting ready to bake: When the buns have almost fully risen , center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Remove the sheet of wax paper and put the pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat. Bake the sticky buns for about 30 minutes, or until they are puffed and gorgeously golden.

The glaze will be bubbling away merrily. Pull the pan from the oven.

The sticky buns must be unmolded minutes after they come out of the oven. If you do not have a rimmed platter large enough to hold them, use a baking sheet lined with a silicone mate or buttered foil. Be careful – the glaze is super-hot and super-sticky.

Golden Brioche Dough

(This recipe makes enough for two brioche loaves. If you divide the dough in half, you would use half for the sticky buns, and you can freeze the other half for a later date, or make a brioche loaf out of it!)

2 packets active dry yeast (each packet of yeast contains approx. 2 1/4 teaspoons)
1/3 cup just-warm-to-the-touch water
1/3 cup just-warm-to-the-touch whole milk
3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature but still slightly firm

What You’ll Need for the Glaze:

(You would brush this on brioche loaves, but not on the sticky buns)

1 large egg
1 tablespoon water

To Make The Brioche: Put the yeast, water and milk in the bowl of a stand mixer and, using a wooden spoon, stir until the yeast is dissolved. Add the flour and salt, and fit into the mixer with the dough hook, if you have one. Toss a kitchen towel over the mixer, covering the bowl as completely as you can– this will help keep you, the counter and your kitchen floor from being showered in flour. Turn the mixer on and off a few short pulses, just to dampen the flour (yes, you can peek to see how you’re doing), then remove the towel, increase the mixer speed to medium-low and mix for a minute or two, just until the flour is moistened. At this point, you’ll have a fairly dry, shaggy mess.

Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula, set the mixer to low and add the eggs, followed by the sugar. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for about 3 minutes, until the dough forms a ball. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter in 2-tablespoon-size chunks, beating until each piece is almost incorporated before adding the next. You’ll have a dough that is very soft, almost like batter. Increase the speed to medium-high and continue to beat until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 10 minutes.

Transfer the dough to a clean bowl (or wash out the mixer bowl and use it), cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature until nearly doubled in size, 40 to 60 minutes, depending upon the warmth of your room.

Deflate the dough by lifting it up around the edges and letting it fall with a slap to the bowl. Cover the bowl with the plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator. Slap the dough down in the bowl every 30 minutes until it stops rising, about 2 hours, then leave the uncovered dough in the refrigerator to chill overnight. (After this, you can proceed with the recipe to make the brioche loaves, or make the sticky buns instead, or freeze all or part of the dough for later use.)

The next day, butter and flour two 8 1/2-x-4 1/2-inch pans.

Pull the dough from the fridge and divide it into 2 equal pieces. Cut each piece of the dough into 4 equal pieces and roll each piece into a log about 3 1/2 inches long. Arrange 4 logs crosswise in the bottom of each pan. Put the pans on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat, cover the pans lightly with wax paper and leave the loaves at room temperature until the dough almost fills the pans, 1 to 2 hours. (Again, rising time with depend on how warm the room is.)

Getting Ready To Bake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
To Make the Glaze: Beat the egg with the water. Using a pastry brush, gently brush the tops of the loaves with the glaze.

Bake the loaves until they are well risen and deeply golden, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer the pans to racks to cool for 15 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the pans and turn the loaves out onto the racks. Invert again and cool for at least 1 hour.

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  1. Apricot jam, cream cheese? Egads, girl! And I’m ashamed to say that I ate 4 or 5 of them. Actually, I’m not ashamed to say it at all. I went to the gym, after all!

  2. beautiful photos and result, as always :) i saw the tip about the floss on a few other blogs too, i’m definitely doing that next time!

  3. Mine were cut with dental floss–and they didn’t taste minty. Seriously, isn’t that the best way to cut them? I might defrost the rest of my dough to try your cream cheese apricot jam concoction–sounds delicious!

  4. I thought making the dough was pretty easy too, though my mixer did get quite a workout! Your sticky buns look fabulous!

  5. LOVELY!!! Your pictures are fabulous as always and your sticky buns make me want to lick my monitor! Thanks for the twine tip, now I can stop my search for unflavored & unwaxed dental floss.

    p.s. Your cream cheese jam rolls nearly gave me a foodgasm! What a great idea, can’t wait to try them myself!

  6. hmmm…i didn’t find these rich at all. your photos are gorgeous! my dough was so much more buttery and hard to work w/than yours was… i still got a tasty result, but rolling the dough up was so hard!

  7. i agree with everyone else! your photos are gorgeous. Mine were the complete opposite though. haha. Will give it a try again next time.

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