I like to get up early on vacation, but I don’t want to actually do anything. I want to sit with my coffee and/or bloody mary and something to nibble and enjoy the early morning quiet, preferably with my feet in the water or within earshot of the waves.
But, as unmotivated as I am to put forth any effort in the morning, I am also psychologically incapable of feeding my friends and family food that I didn’t make from scratch. So, no cooking that morning + home-cooked breakfast? What’s a girl to do? Answer – make sticky buns! No really, stick with me here.
As with a lot of yeast breads, the timing of these things is extremely flexible. You can do all the rises at normal room temp and have a finished product in about 2.5 hours, or you can do all the work ahead of time and delay the actual cooking for days. Whatever floats your boat. I like to have everything assembled and in the pan waiting for it’s final proof a couple of days in advance, and then wrap them well and pop them in the freezer until the night before I want to cook them. That night they hang out in the fridge to thaw and slowly rise, and then come out to the counter to shake off their chill while the oven preheats. A visit to the hot oven and the next thing you know your fellow vacationers (or your kids/spouse/roommates/neighbors/stray cats and dogs) have fallen out of bed and drifted toward the kitchen, enticed by a heavenly cinnamon sugar scent.
I’ve had this recipe for about 4 years scribbled onto an index card in my recipe file box. I wish I knew where I got it to cite here, but I haven’t got the foggiest. I’ve made some changes, but if this looks familiar to somebody give me a shout so I can give the proper credit.
UPDATE: I found it! Recipe adapted from Simply Recipes.
- 1/4 c. warm water
- 1 packet yeast
- 1/3 c. sugar
- 4 Tbsp butter, softened
- 3/4 c. milk (I use skim because that’s what I usually have. whole would be better)
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1 tsp vanilla (or 1 Tbsp orange zest)
- 1 tsp salt
- 4 – 4 1/4 c. all purpose flour
- 1/2 c. brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp cinnamon
- 4 Tbsp (half a stick) butter, very soft
- 3/4 c. brown sugar
- 4 Tbsp (half a stick) butter
- 3 Tbsp honey
- 1 Tbsp corn syrup (you could probably just sub honey for this)
- 6 oz nuts (walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans – whatever floats your boat) optional
If you are using active dry yeast like me then combine the warm water, 1 Tbsp of the sugar and the yeast in a small dish and let it sit till bubbly. Once the yeasts are all wide awake and ready for action, combine the yeast mixture with the milk, butter, sugar, egg yolks, vanilla, salt and 3 cups of the flour in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. (or a big mixing bowl with a wooden spoon and some muscle) Mix till blended.
Switch to dough hook and mix on low while slowly adding the remaining 1 cup of flour. Knead 3-5 minutes till smooth, adding the extra 1/4 cup flour if the dough is still sticky. (it’ll be a little sticky, but it should clean the sides of the bowl and you should be able to touch it without it attempting to catch a ride on your finger)
Shape into a ball and let rise in a buttered bowl till doubled. (ummm..an hour? 45 minutes? this really depends on how warm your house is. Keep half an eye on it, but this isn’t a really delicate procedure so don’t sweat it)
Punch down the now puffy ball and turn out onto a lightly greased board. (I give my biggest cutting board a spritz of Pam. It works better than flouring everything) Allow to rest for 20 minutes, loosely covered with a kitchen towel or a piece of plastic wrap.
Roll the dough out to a rectangle roughly 12×18. It might spring back and argue with you, but just give it a minute and it should relax. Be gentle and keep coaxing and it’ll eventually lay out nicely.
Combine the filling ingredients and mix well until you have a sugar/cinnamon/butter paste. Spread the resulting paste over the rectangle of dough, leaving a 1 inch clean margin along one of the long edges.
Roll up the dough tightly, starting at the end opposite the clean edge and then pinch the seam together well. Stick the roll in the fridge to hang out while you make the topping.
Butter your 9×13 pan and sprinkle the nuts over the bottom if you are using them. (i usually make 2/3 nuts, 1/3 no nuts to make everybody happy)
Combine all the remaining topping ingredients over medium-low heat till the butter is melted and the sugar is dissolved. DO NOT let it turn into caramel. You just want to dissolve everything.
Pour the sugar goo over the entire pan and make sure it’s spread in an even layer.
Take the rolled dough out of the fridge and carefully cut it into 12 equal pieces. Use a sharp bread knife and saw carefully without pressing down.
Transfer each of the rolls, cut side up, to the pan. Lay them on top of the nuts and sugar goo in a single layer.
(This is the point at which I wrap the entire pan in 2 layers of plastic wrap and stick it in the freezer. It’ll keep in there for at least 3-4 days)
Let the rolls rise overnight in the fridge and in the morning pull them out of the fridge to unchill while you preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. (Or let rise at room temp for….um 1 hour? I’ve never done it this way, but you want them to grow till they fill the pan)
Bake for 30-35 minutes in the middle of the oven, until the tops of the buns are deep golden brown.
Take out of the ovens and let sit for 2-3 minutes.
Place a platter or cookie sheet over the top of the pan and hold it tightly onto the pan (wearing oven mitts) and carefully flip the whole kit n’ caboodle over. Place it on the counter and carefully lift the pan back off the buns, which should be sitting nicely on the platter or cookie sheet, covered with lovely oozy sugary goodness. You might need a spatula to get the edge of the pan up at first, but it should come right off with no sticking.
Let the buns rest so as not to burn yourself on molten sugar goo and then dig in!