Good things must be shared, don’t you think?
This recipe isn’t quick and easy but it’s definitely worth it!! I have been told time and again that I need to make these commercially and that people would drive miles for them and pay almost anything but I’m too lazy. If you want to go ahead and make these to sell, be my guest but know I will be demanding royalties… not!
Makes 8 big buns or 16 small buns or whatever fits in your pan
You have to make the dough first. The dough is the hardest part but is integral to what makes these so good. Sort of like when you make a pie. To be the best pie it has to have the best crust. I’ve had many a cinnamon or pecan roll and if the bun part is not good I spit it out. Too bad for the baker. Sorry. It has to be good dough and that’s the end of it. I have tried store bought Pillsbury dough and other recipes and all failed the Renée Taste Test. This bun recipe is the piéce de résistance.
Oh, you should be aware that this whole process will take a few hours so you might consider starting in the morning so you can bake your sticky buns that night.
Beautiful dough for the buns
¼ c warm water (feels warm – not hot – to touch)
1 pkg (2-1/4 t) active dry yeast
Combine these 2 things in a large bowl (or in a bowl of a stand mixer) and let the yeast dissolve. About 5 minutes.
Add to the dissolved yeast:
½ c all-purpose or bread flour
1/3 c sugar
¼ c milk
1 t vanilla
1 t salt
Mix this by hand (or on slow in the stand mixer) until blended. (I’ve done this by hand but after Marty gave me a stand mixer for Christmas I really would rather use it than do it by hand. I’ve been spoiled.) Once that is mixed, gradually add in 2 to 2-1/4 c all-purpose or bread flour stirring all the while. Mix until the dough comes together. Now dump it all out on to a lightly floured board or smooth counter and knead by hand (you know how to knead bread dough, right?) for about 10 minutes (or if you have a dough hook on the stand mixer knead with that on low for about 7-8 minutes). We want the dough to be smooth and elastic so it’s not sticking to your hands or the bowl.
Add 6 T (3/4 stick) butter, very soft, not melted just soft
and vigorously knead it in. It will be messy but keep working and it will blend. Trust me. I’ve done this many times. It will work. Endeavor to persevere. Knead until completely incorporated and smooth and elastic again.
Now place the dough in a large lightly buttered bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm place (like 75 – 85 degrees) until doubled in volume, about 1-1/2 hrs. May take shorter or longer depending on how lively your yeast is.
Now punch down and knead briefly. Just a few times. Then refrigerate, covered, until doubled again. 4 – 12 hrs.
The hard but important part is over!
Finishing. Going for the Gold.
Butter a 13 x 9 inch baking pan. Or iron skillet, whatever you have, pie plate, doesn’t really matter. Just something not too big or small that you can bake in.
Mix together in a small saucepan:
1 c dark brown sugar
½ c (1 stick) butter
¼ c honey
Bring this to a soft boil over medium heat stirring to dissolve sugar.
Remove from heat and mix in 2-1/2 cups chopped pecans.
Pour this lovely hot mess into the buttered pan, spreading evenly. While you’re letting that cool a bit roll the dough out to a rectangle shape approximately 16 x 12 inches and about a ¼ to 1/2 inch thick. This is all approximate. It can be thicker but generally since you want it to roll up in a robust spiral you’ll want it thinner rather than thicker.
Brush that flattened part with 1 T melted butter.
(You realize, at this point, we’re far beyond healthy and low calorie. Who cares?)
Sprinkle evenly with 1/3 to ½ c packed dark brown sugar and 2 t cinnamon
Roll it up into a cylinder from long side. Cut crosswise into however many rolls you want. Obviously cut thin you get more rolls but thinner rolls. Arrange the rolls cut side down in the pan spacing evenly. They can touch or not touch. Not touching is better so they cook more evenly. They’ll definitely puff up in the oven. But first cover once again and let rise at room temp until doubled. About an hour.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350.
When the oven is preheated and the rolls puffed up, put them in the oven and bake until top is golden brown and the syrup is bubbling. By the way you might want to put a cookie sheet under the pan in case of any boil overs. Spare the oven.
Anyway, bake for about 30 minutes and keep an eye on them so they don’t burn. Remove from oven and let them cool about 5 minutes. Now you have to flip the whole business over on to the serving plate. To do this place a plate or serving platter over the pan and grasping both sides of the plate and pan (oven mitts help here) flip the whole business over so the buns come out.
Step back and feast your eyes. Not too long though because it’s now time to feast your mouth. Try not to eat too many at once. Try to save some for later.