Growing up my mother made the most wonderfully delicious Cinnamon Buns or as we liked to call them, sticky buns. We’d anxiously wait for the dough to rise and for my mother to bake in a very hot oven. The aroma filled our house, lasting until we licked our fingers clean.
Years ago my mother shared with me her recipe for her sweet yeast bread which I’ve incorporated into these absolutely scrupulous Sticky Buns. I made these for my children and now I introduced my grandchildren to my mother’s Sticky Buns.
These delicious pastries are worth the time and effort to make from scratch. What I like is the recipe can be made ahead, in stages. Also, I have successfully frozen the baked buns, just defrost, and gently warm.
1 cup milk at room temperature
2 teaspoon yeast
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces, room temperature, plus ½ tablespoon, melted
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1¾ cups chopped pecans (about 8 ounces)
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
¾ cup (packed) dark brown sugar
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup (packed) dark brown sugar
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
All-purpose flour (for dusting)
1 large egg
Coarse sea salt
Heat milk in a small saucepan over medium or in a microwave until an instant-read thermometer registers 110°–115°. Transfer milk to a 2-cup measuring cup; stir in 1 Tbsp. sugar. Sprinkle yeast over milk and whisk to blend. Let sit until yeast is foamy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs; whisk until smooth. Combine flour, salt, and remaining sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add milk mixture. With the mixer running, add ½ cup room-temperature butter, 1 piece at a time, blending well between additions. Mix on medium speed 1 minute. Knead on medium-high speed until the dough is soft and silky, about 5 minutes.
Brush a medium bowl with about 1 tsp. melted butter; place dough in the bowl. Brush top of the dough with remaining melted butter; cover with plastic wrap.
Let dough rise in a warm, draft-free area until doubled in size, 2 hours.
Chill dough 2 hours or overnight.
Do Ahead: Dough, before the first rise, can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with plastic; chill. Let rise in a warm, draft-free area until doubled in size, 2–2½ hours.
Preheat oven to 350°. Spread nuts on a rimmed baking sheet. Toast until fragrant and slightly darkened, 10–12 minutes. Let cool completely. Set 1¼ 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 glaze into the baking pan, tilting to coat bottom and sides. Set aside remaining glaze. Sprinkle ½ cup toasted pecans over bottom of the baking pan and let cool.
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.
Roll out dough on a lightly floured work surface into a 14×18″ rectangle about ¼” thick. Arrange dough on a work surface so 1 long side faces you. Spread cinnamon-sugar mixture over dough, leaving a 1″ border on the side farthest from you.
Sprinkle ¾ cup chopped pecans over cinnamon-sugar mixture. Beginning with the long edge closest to you, roll dough into a log, tightening as you roll and patting in ends if they begin to taper. Pinch together the seam where the long side meets the roll to seal. Arrange log seam side down.
Using a large knife, cut log crosswise into 12 pieces (lightly flour knife between slices if the dough is too sticky). Turn buns cut side up and gently pat top to flatten slightly. If needed, reshape to form round edges by cupping lightly floured hands around each bun and gently pushing and turning them in a circular motion. Transfer buns to prepared pan, spacing evenly apart (buns should not touch each other).
Loosely cover the pan with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel. Let buns rise in a warm, draft-free area until doubled in size, 45 minutes–1 hour, or 1½–2 hours if the dough has been chilled overnight.
Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven; preheat to 450°. Whisk egg with ½ 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, the filling is bubbling, about 20 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes. Spoon remaining glaze over. Sprinkle ½ cup pecans over. Let cool in pan on a wire rack.