Sticky Buns

January 9, 2013

One of my favorite special treats when I was a kid was going to the mall with my mom and splitting one of Cindy’s Cinnamon Rolls’ enormous sticky buns, all warm and gooey and topped with crunchy pecans. Eventually that mall closed down and there were no more Cindy’s franchises in the area. But then I grew up and realized I could bake for myself, so I now present you with the recipe I use. :)

The dough is the same basic sweet dough recipe from the ATK Family Baking Book used in both my cinnamon rolls and monkey bread, and the assembly is almost the same as the cinnamon rolls. Rather than baking the rolls and then adding frosting, the bottom of the pan is covered with the sticky bun topping and the rolls are turned out upside down after baking.

The topping can be made with either pecans or walnuts; I prefer pecans because there’s nothing better than nostalgic comfort food. These are also a favorite of one of my coworkers, so they make a relatively frequent appearance at my work. :) Enjoy!

Sticky buns

The dough and/or the assembled rolls may be made ahead. If you wish to make the dough ahead, do not let it rise but refrigerate it overnight or up to 16 hours; let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before assembling rolls. If you wish to assemble the rolls ahead, do not let the cut rolls rise but refrigerate them in the pan overnight or up to 16 hours; let them sit at room temperature until they have nearly doubled in size, about 1 hour, then bake as directed.

Makes 12 buns



  • 3/4  cup buttermilk, warm (110 degrees F)
  • 6  tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 3  large eggs
  • 4 1/4  cups (21 1/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4  cup sugar
  • 2 1/4  teaspoons (1 envelope) instant or rapid-rise yeast
  • 1 1/4  teaspoons salt


  • 3/4  cup packed (5 1/4 ounces) light brown sugar
  • 2  teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4  teaspoon ground cloves
  • Pinch salt
  • 1  tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and cooled


  • 1/2  cup packed (3½ ounces) light brown sugar
  • 1/2  cup light corn syrup
  • 4  tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/8  teaspoon salt
  • 1/2  teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2  cups (8 ounces) pecans or walnuts, toasted and chopped coarse


Make the topping:

  1. Bring the brown sugar, corn syrup, butter, and salt to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat. Off the heat, stir in the vanilla and nuts, then spread the mixture over the bottom of a greased 13-by-9-inch baking pan.

Make the dough:

  1. Whisk the buttermilk, melted butter, and eggs together in a large liquid measuring cup. Combine 4 cups of the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt together in a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. With the mixer on low speed, add the buttermilk mixture and mix until the dough comes together, about 2 minutes.
  2. Increase the mixer speed to medium and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. If after 5 minutes more flour is needed, add the remaining 1/4 cup flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough clears the sides of the bowl but sticks to the bottom.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a clean surface and knead by hand to form a smooth, round ball. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

Assemble and bake:

  1. Mix the brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and salt together in a small bowl. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and press it into a 16 by 12-inch rectangle with the long side facing you. Brush the dough with the melted butter, the sprinkle the brown sugar mixture over it, leaving a 3/4-inch border along the top edge. Press on the filling to adhere it to the dough.
  2. Loosen the dough from the counter using a bench scraper or metal spatula, and roll the dough into a tight log. Pinch the seam closed and roll the log seam-side down. Gently stretch the long to be 18 inches in length with an even diameter, and pat the ends to even them out.
  3. Slice the cylinder into 12 evenly sized rolls (about 1 1/2 inches wide) using a sharp serrated knife. Arrange the rolls in the prepared baking pan and wrap tightly with greased plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until the rolls have nearly doubled in size and are pressed against one another, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
  4. Adjust and oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake the rolls until golden and puffed, 25 to 30 minutes.
  5. Let the buns cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then flip them out onto a large serving platter. Scrape up any glaze left in the pan and drizzle it over the buns before serving.

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