Pecan Sticky Buns

(I am cleaning out my blog site and found one of my favorite recipes that needed a little updating. So here it is with enhanced sticky bun filling and extra gooeyness.)

Slurry. What a funny word. Slurry-slurry-slurry! Like a cross between hurry and sloppy. Or blurry and sloshy. But in this case it is a cross between ambrosia and delight.

I know I have posted about sticky buns before. But really, can we ever get enough of sweet and nutty sticky buns? It’s a Christmas tradition around here to have them for breakfast along with a savory dish. So needless to say, I have tried many a recipe and have lots of experience with these to speak from.

If you want homemade-from-scratch sticky buns you have 4 steps.

Make the dough.

Make the slurry and cinnamon sugar.

Form the buns.


If you want a large amount of sweet dough, I have the recipe here.

If you want quicky-sticky buns, go here.

But for now I will give you a reduced dough recipe and my favorite slurry, which is the sticky gooey stuff upon which the rolled up dough sits and bakes.

I tend to make these the night before, on Christmas Eve, to raise overnight in the fridge, then take them out in the morning to come to room temperature. About an hour later, I put them into a warm oven. Probably along with a breakfast casserole of some kind.

If you have a bread machine, by all means, set it to dough only and let it do most of the work. Just always check its progress about 5-10 minutes in. Check that floppy ball of dough. Is it too sticky on the sides? Add a tablespoon or two of flour until it stops. Does it look dry and cracked? Add a tablespoon or two of water until it is tacky again. Keep in the back of your mind though that you want soft buns so it really does not need an excess of kneading to develop gluten. If you are making the dough the night before and storing in the fridge overnight in a storage bag, you dont really need to knead at all, just mix and give a few kneading turns by hand to smooth out the dough before storing.

This slurry recipe is from one of my Peter Reinhart books “Artisan Breads Every Day”. It’s one of those books that is now crinkled and spotted, stained and moisture damaged. In other words, I love it.

(Quick note on flour. For softer buns, you can use a lower protein flour, like Gold Medal unbleached all-purpose. I never recommend bleached or store brand flours due to chemicals they use. Each region has its own flour types available. For cookies, buns, biscuits and quick breads a general all-purpose, unbleached, will do. Here we get “Wheat Montana” which grows, mills and bags their own wheat so the prices are lower and the flour is non GMO, and chemical free as well as unbleached-unbromated. It is comparable to King Arthur flour having a slightly higher protein. I save this for breads. Then I use Gold Medal a.p. for the rest.)

Here you go:

Sticky bun dough

·         1 cup warm milk or buttermilk (or half of each) Not more than 100 degrees.

·         1 egg

·         3 Tbsp. soft or melted butter

·         3 ½ flour (more or less)

·         ¼ cup sugar

·         1 tsp. salt

·         2 tsp. cinnamon

·         2 ½ tsp. yeast.

 Use your bread machines directions. Most of the ones I have seen put the liquids in first, then the dry. In which case, you could put them in the order listed.

If you are NOT using a bread machine you still pretty much use the same principles. Mix the wet ingredients together in a large bowl. Whisk the dry ingredients together and add to the wet. Mix by standing mixer or by hand with a wooden spoon until thoroughly mixed. Dump out onto a floured surface, kneading until smooth and bouncy. You may need to add a bit of flour as you knead but don’t add too much. You still want the dough to be tacky. A dough scraper (bench scraper) comes in handy right about now. Use it to scrape the dough up without adding too much flour.

just mixed dough
just mixed dough
kneaded dough.
kneaded dough.

Once kneaded, place the dough in a large bowl to raise, brushing oil or melted butter over it and covering it with plastic wrap, such as an old bread bag cut open.

Let it raise for about an hour or hour and a half.

In the meantime…

Make your slurry!

You will need:

·         ½ cup of white sugar

·         ½ cup brown sugar

·         ½ cup cream (did you know Trader Joes now carries boxed cream you can keep on a pantry shelf?)

·         1 tbsp. Melted butter.

·         1 tbsp. light (or dark) corn syrup

·         About 1 ½ cups chopped nuts of your choice. “I choose you, pecans!” (Pokeman reference)

You will need a cube of soft butter handy.

Combine the sugars, cream, melted butter and corn syrup in a bowl and either mix by hand or machine until “smooth and homogeneous”. Pour it into a 9 x 13 baking pan. Top with chopped nuts. (Food chopper is perfect for this). Set aside.

Once the dough is done “proofing” , its time to roll.

On a floured surface roll the dough out into a rectangle, pretty thinly. About 12”x15” or more.  If it keeps pulling back, walk away for a couple of minutes and let it rest. It gets stressed out sometimes and just needs a moment alone. Then keep rolling.

Spread soft butter all over. You will use somewhere between and half and a whole cube. In a bowl, mix ‘some’ brown and white sugar, or all white sugar, and cinnamon (or Cinnamon Plus-even better) then sprinkle this all over the buttered dough.If you want at this point, you could add things like dried cranberries or raisins. I don’t. But you could.

*Since this posting I have changed my cinnamon sugar blend a bit. I now add powdered sugar to the brown/white sugar mix. It has some cornstarch in it to help thicken the filling up and help with the gooey factor. I also add a tiny bit of Xanthan gum. A little goes a long way. I mean a pinch. Mix it in well with your cinnamon sugar mix. But only if you have it on hand. Dont bother to buy it for this. It is way too expensive. Spread this out over the soft butter. I am always on the lookout for ways to compete with the “Cinnabun” experience.

roll it out,
roll it out,
Smear the butter all over it.
Smear the butter all over it. See the cup of cinnamon sugar mix ready for sprinkling?

Now you roll it up, like a rug. I start at the shorter end, but you want it at least 12 inches long so you can cut the rolls at least 1 inch wide more or less. (I notice a lot of my cooking is ‘more or less’.) Make sure the roll is nice and tight. Pinch the long edge, with damp fingers, to the roll, so it wont unroll. (does that make sense?)




Cut this log in half.

Cut each of those in half.


Cut each of those in thirds. There you go. 12 rolls! Now place them over your slurry. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise about 1 hour. They most likely won’t double in size, but no worries there. When they are half way raised, get the wood stove going, or turn your oven on to 350 degrees.

I love these happy spirals.I have all kinds of pictures I have taken over the years of unbaked cinnamon buns.
I love these happy spirals.I have all kinds of pictures I have taken over the years of unbaked cinnamon buns.

*If you have a baking stone, put that in your oven to preheat. This helps put extra heat to the bottom of the buns, which is a good thing. You don’t need the tops of the buns getting all brown while the bottoms, under the goo, are still white. The extra heat from the stone helps it to brown the bottoms a bit more. If you don’t have a baking stone, put the rack a little closer to the bottom of the oven, if that is where your heat source is coming from. But of course, you don’t want to over cook it either, you might cook the sugars too much and the goo might get hard. (Ask me how I know this.) Have I made you nervous yet?

Bake 25-30 minutes.

Pull out of the oven when the tops are golden brown. Invert onto a baking sheet, perhaps lined with foil.  Let sit a few minutes, then pull the pan away. Voila! Warm gooey buns of happiness!

Another old picture when I made some in a flower shaped pan. It made about 6-7 large sticky buns in this pan. Yum!
Since I didn’t get a picture of the finished buns from the above pictures, I am using another old picture when I made some in a flower shaped pan. It made about 6 large sticky buns in this pan. Yum!

Lets say you get all done and you feel you need more syrupy goodness on top. Here is a recipe for extra caramel type sauce to pour over the top:

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons corn syrup
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

melt these ingredients except the vanilla, together in a small saucepan,whisking, until it begins to simmer. Remove from the heat and add the vanilla. Now you have extra sauce to pour over the buns!


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