Pecan Sticky Buns

pecan sticky buns

Any day that starts with sticky buns is going to be sweet in more ways than one. Amy’s is justly famous for their version. The buns are baked pull-apart style in a rectangular pan so the buttery caramel and nuts stay primarily on the top. A few minutes after the rolls come out of the oven, flip the pan over onto a tray or plate so the caramel drips down over the rolls. Make sure to scrape all the pecans out of the pan and onto the rolls. They’re the best part!

Recipe from The Chelsea Cookbook by Michael Phillips & Rick Rodgers Permission of Stewart, Tabori & Chang 2013 ©.
Image: Jennifer May

Pecan Sticky Buns
Makes: Makes 12 buns
The Dough:
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) very warm water (105° to 115°F/40° to 45°C)
  • 2¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1¾ cups (420 ml) warm water (90°F/30°C)
  • ⅓ cup (65 g) granulated sugar
  • 5 tablespoons (65 g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2¾ cups (355 g) unbleached bread flour
  • 2¾ cups (355 g) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus additional as needed
  • Vegetable oil, for the bowl
The Topping:
  • 1¼ cups (275 g) packed light brown sugar
  • 14 tablespoons (200 g) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons, plus softened butter for the pan
  • 2 tablespoons light or dark corn syrup
  • 1½ cups (170 g) pecans, toasted (see page 180) and coarsely chopped
The Filling:
  • ⅓ cup (65 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 6 tablespoons (¾ stick/85 g) unsalted butter, well softened
  1. Make the dough: Combine the ¼ cup (60 ml) very warm water and the yeast in a small bowl and stir to moisten the yeast. Let the mixture stand for 3 minutes; stir to dissolve the yeast. Pour it into the bowl of a standing heavy-duty mixer.
  2. Add the warm water, sugar, butter and salt to the bowl. Attach the bowl to the mixer and fit it with the paddle attachment. On low speed, add the bread flour and then enough of the all-purpose flour to make a soft, sticky dough that barely cleans the bowl. Turn off the mixer, remove the paddle attachment, and cover the bowl with a kitchen towel. Let the dough stand for 10 minutes.
  3. Fit the mixer with the dough hook. Knead the dough on medium-low speed, until the dough is soft and supple, but tacky to the touch, about 7 minutes.
  4. Lightly oil a medium bowl. Scrape the dough out of the mixer bowl onto a lightly floured work surface. Shape it into a ball, place it in the oiled bowl, and turn to coat it with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it stand in a warm place until the dough is almost doubled in volume, about 2 hours.
  5. Meanwhile, make the topping: Warm the brown sugar, butter, and syrup in a small saucepan over low heat, whisking often, until the butter has melted and the sugar is completely moistened and starting to melt (it won’t be dissolved). Remove it from the heat and whisk well until the butter is fully absorbed.
  6. Butter a 13-by-9-by-2-inch (33-by-23-by-5-cm) baking pan. Pour in the warm brown-sugar mixture, tilting the pan so the mixture spreads evenly in the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle the pecans over the caramel, being sure to reach the corners. Let it cool. (The topping must not be warmer than tepid when the dough slices are added.)
  7. When the dough has doubled, gently transfer it onto a lightly floured work surface. Try to keep this soft, pillowy dough inflated during handling. Gently pat and stretch the dough, being sure that it isn’t sticking, and dusting underneath it with flour as needed, into a 13-by-10-inch (33-by-25-cm) rectangle, with the long side facing you. If the dough resists, cover it loosely with a kitchen towel, let it rest for 5 minutes and resume stretching.
  8. Make the filling: Stir the sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl until it is evenly mixed. Using your fingertips, spread the butter evenly over the dough to the edges. Sprinkle the cinnamon mixture evenly over the butter. Starting with the bottom edge, roll up the dough jelly-roll fashion into a long log. Pinch the long seam closed.
  9. Using a large sharp knife, mark the dough into 12 equal pieces, then cut it into 12 slices. Arrange the slices cut-side down on top of the cooled caramel in the baking pan. Cover the top with oiled plastic wrap, oiled-side down, and let the pan stand in a warm place until the slices have risen and almost completely fill the pan, about 1 hour.
  10. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat it to 375°F (190°C). Line a half-sheet pan with parchment paper. (The parchment paper will catch any topping that bubbles out of the pan during baking.)
  11. Put the pan of sticky buns on the prepared half-sheet pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F (175°C) and bake the buns for 35 to 40 minutes more, or until the tops are completely golden brown. It’s important to bake the buns long enough so the dough is cooked all the way through and the caramel topping develops properly.
  12. Transfer the pan to a wire cake rack and let it cool for 3 minutes. Cover the pan with a large, flat heatproof platter (or even another half-sheet pan). Quickly but carefully invert the pan and platter together to release the sticky buns onto the platter. Immediately scrape out any hot caramel and pecans remaining in the bottom of the pan and spread it on the tops of the buns, filling in any bare spots. Let the buns cool for about 10 minutes, then serve them warm. (The leftover buns can be wrapped in aluminum foil or plastic and stored at room temperature for up to 2 days. Reheat them in a toaster oven before serving.)

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