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If you’re looking to make mom an extra-special treat for Mother’s Day this year, try baking a batch of our Sticky Buns with Pecans. The caramel glaze, intricately rolled dough and crumbled nut topping make these look like the work of a master - and they're easier to make than they look.
You may recognize these beautiful buns from the cover of "The Cook’s Illustrated Baking Book"; it includes recipes for other decadent (and some healthy, too!) baked goods that you may have never tackled at home. It also features lots of foolproof techniques, tips and recipes to help you (and your mom) reach your full baking potential.
Sticky Buns with Pecans
This recipe has four components: the dough that is shaped into buns; the filling that creates the swirl in the shaped buns; the caramel glaze that bakes in the bottom of the baking dish along with the buns; and the pecan topping that garnishes the buns once baked. Although the ingredient list may look long, note that many ingredients are repeated. Leftover sticky buns can be wrapped in foil or plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 3 days, but they should be warmed through before serving. They reheat quickly in a microwave oven (for 2 buns, about 2 minutes at 50% power works well); they can also be put into a 325 degree oven for about 8 minutes.
For the caramel glaze:
For the cinnamon-sugar filling:
For the pecan topping:
2. Lightly spray a large bowl or plastic container with nonstick cooking spray. Transfer the dough to the bowl, spray dough lightly with cooking spray, then cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and set in a warm, draft-free spot until doubled in volume, about 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
3. For the glaze: Meanwhile, combine all ingredients for the glaze in a small saucepan; cook over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until butter is melted and mixture is thoroughly combined. Pour mixture into nonstick, metal 13-by-9-inch baking dish; using rubber spatula, spread mixture to cover the surface of the baking dish. Set baking dish aside.
4. To assemble and bake buns: For filling, combine brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves and salt in a small bowl and mix until thoroughly combined, using fingers to break up sugar lumps; set aside. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Gently shape dough into rough rectangle with long side nearest you. Lightly flour dough and roll into a 16-by-12-inch rectangle. Brush dough with 1 tablespoon melted butter, leaving 1/2-inch border along top edge; with butter remaining on brush, brush sides of baking dish. Sprinkle the filling over dough, leaving 3/4-inch border along top edge; smooth filling in an even layer by hand, then gently press mixture into dough to adhere. Beginning with the long edge nearest you, roll dough into a taut cylinder. Firmly pinch seam to seal and place the cylinder seam-side down. Very gently stretch the cylinder to an even diameter and 18-inch length; push ends in to create even thickness. Using a serrated knife and gentle sawing motion, slice the cylinder in half, then slice each half in half again to create evenly sized quarters. Slice each quarter evenly into thirds, yielding 12 buns (end pieces may be slightly smaller).
5. Arrange buns, cut side down, in prepared baking dish; cover tightly with plastic wrap and set in warm, draft-free spot until puffy and pressed against one another, about 1 1/2 hours. Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to lowest position, place pizza stone (if using) on rack, and heat oven to 350 degrees.
6. Place baking pan on pizza stone; bake until golden brown and center of dough registers about 180 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool on wire rack 10 minutes; invert onto rimmed baking sheet, large rectangular platter or cutting board. With rubber spatula, scrape any glaze remaining in baking pan onto buns; let cool while making pecan topping.
7. For the topping: Combine butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and salt in small saucepan and bring to simmer over medium heat, whisking occasionally to thoroughly combine. Off the heat, stir in vanilla and pecans until pecans are evenly coated. Using soup spoon, spoon a heaping tablespoon of nuts and topping over the center of each sticky bun. Continue to cool until sticky buns are warm, 15 to 20 minutes. Pull apart or use serrated knife to cut apart sticky buns; serve.
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