May 9th, 2014
03:00 PM ET
Share this on:

America's Test Kitchen  is a real 2,500 square foot test kitchen located just outside of Boston that is home to more than three dozen full¬time cooks and product testers. Our mission is simple: to develop the absolute best recipes for all of your favorite foods. To do this, we test each recipe 30, 40, sometimes as many as 70 times, until we arrive at the combination of ingredients, technique, temperature, cooking time, and equipment that yields the best, most¬ foolproof recipe. America’s Test Kitchen's online cooking school is based on nearly 20 years of test kitchen work in our own facility, on the recipes created for Cook's Illustrated magazine, and on our two public television cooking shows.

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.

If you need more than these photos to get up the courage to preheat your oven and put these buns in the oven, you might want to check out the “Bake the Cover” contest that we ran last year where we asked our readers to take photos of the sticky buns they made at home. We loved seeing the different ways people showcased their work, and the images might inspire you to put your own twist on the finished product.

Sticky Buns with Pecans
(Makes 12 buns)

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 dough:
3 large eggs at room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup buttermilk at room temperature
1 1/4 teaspoons table salt
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
4 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (21 1/4 ounces), plus additional for dusting work surface
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled until warm

For the caramel glaze:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar (5 1/4 ounces)
3 tablespoons corn syrup, light or dark
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 pinch table salt

For the cinnamon-sugar filling:
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar (5 1/4 ounces)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 pinch table salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

For the pecan topping:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar (1 3/4 ounces)
3 tablespoons corn syrup, light or dark
pinch table salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup pecans (3 ounces), toasted in a skillet over medium heat until fragrant and browned, about 5 minutes, then cooled and coarsely chopped

Cooking Instructions:
1. For the dough: In bowl of a stand mixer, whisk eggs to combine; add buttermilk and whisk to combine. Whisk in sugar, salt and yeast. Add about 2 cups flour and butter; stir with wooden spoon or rubber spatula until evenly moistened and combined. Add all but about 1/4 cup remaining flour and knead with dough hook at low speed for 5 minutes. Check consistency of dough (dough should feel soft and moist but should not be wet and sticky; add more flour, if necessary); knead at low speed for 5 minutes longer (dough should clear sides of bowl but stick to bottom). Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface; knead by hand about 1 minute to ensure that dough is uniform (dough should not stick to work surface during hand kneading; if it does stick, knead in additional flour 1 tablespoon at a time).

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.

More from America's Test Kitchen:
French Toast
Strata with Spinach and Gruyere
Rolled Soufflé for a Crowd
Our Favorite Stand Mixer

Posted by:
Filed under: America's Test Kitchen • Baked Goods • Bread • Breakfast • Content Partner • Dishes • Events • Mother's Day • Recipes

soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. kurtkoba1n

    Reblogged this on Hazel's Delights.

    June 4, 2014 at 10:43 pm |
  2. Berk Demirbulakli

    Every time I eat out a pair of sticky buns, I end up with glazed donut face.

    May 14, 2014 at 3:18 pm |
  3. Mark L

    You should offer an alternative topping besiedes pecans. These sound delicious but I am very allergic to tree nuts

    May 12, 2014 at 10:52 am |
    • suj

      Maybe you can make a thinking cap, put it on and come up with an alternative to tree nuts and share. This isn't the first time you bumped into that wall. It can't be that hard of a cut to crack.

      May 12, 2014 at 4:57 pm |
    • JBJingles

      Try crushed pretzel sticks instead of pecans, looks like the pecan and will have good texture/crunch.

      May 12, 2014 at 6:52 pm |
    • AleeD®

      Use the ingredients from the cinnamon-sugar filling to make a crumb topping. Google "crumb topping" for recipes.

      May 13, 2014 at 6:53 am |
  4. AleeD®

    Yum-freaking-meee. One of these and it's nap time. All those carbs, but damn well worth it.

    For a simpler version, try Monkey bread, try this version. My SIL used PEEkans.

    May 12, 2014 at 6:58 am |
  5. YourTablecloth

    Looks so good-how can I not try!

    May 11, 2014 at 10:13 pm |
  6. Person Thing

    @Clown It's not because they eat these things, it's because they eat too much of it.

    May 9, 2014 at 5:45 pm |
  7. Clown

    That's why people are fat, because they eat stuff like this.

    May 9, 2014 at 5:26 pm |
    • Carn E. Vore

      I have one of these about twice a month. I'm not fat.

      May 10, 2014 at 9:54 am |
  8. Nimrod

    I used watch the fellows at Silver Dollar Cinnamon Rolls make them at the State Fair of Ok. They didn't put a glaze in the bottom, just LOTS of butter on the dough before rolling it up. Yummy!!

    May 9, 2014 at 5:26 pm |
    • laxietoo

      Cinnamon rolls and Sticky Buns are two different types of breakfast roll. That's why those making the Cinnamon Rolls didn't put the glaze in the bottom. That glaze is the anchor for the pecans that you put on top.

      May 9, 2014 at 7:41 pm |
| Part of