Maple Pecan Sticky Buns
I’ve got a bun in the oven.
(I’ve been waiting 18 weeks to type that. And also, I am overwhelmed by your response to our happy news. Thank you so much… all of you… for your kind words, stories, comments, and endless support. Monday was the most wonderful day because of you. Thank you for being part of that very special moment announcing this. ♥)
I also have maple pecan sticky buns on the menu this Easter weekend. To test the recipe out, I made a batch last week and again the other day. (Froze the rest!) The whole batch is better than I even imagined and give regular ol’ cinnamon buns a run for their money. Why have regular cinnamon rolls when you can have brown sugar, butter-y, caramel-ish pecan sticky buns? There’s absolutely no comparison.
Sticky buns > cinnamon rolls.
If you’re team cinnamon roll, I guarantee this recipe will change your mind. You’ll be on the big buns side in no time. And consequently, your buns may even get bigger.
I have a lot of step photos for you today to walk you through the process. To avoid overwhelming you, I share all the step shots below the written out recipe. But I do encourage you to take a peek at them. They will help guide you along. I took all these step shots of my process the other day because I feel working with yeast intimidates most. And I want you to no longer be afraid of the stuff! Sticky buns aren’t scary.
Before We Get Started…
There are 3 parts to these maple pecan sticky buns.
- The dough.
- The filling.
- The maple pecan topping.
Dough: this is the same trusty dough I use for my overnight cinnamon rolls and maple cinnamon rolls. Which means (1) it’s dependable. I’ve used this dough at least 30x in the past couple years and am extremely confident in it. (2) it’s a make-ahead recipe, but doesn’t necessarily have to be. You can begin prepping these maple pecan sticky buns the night before OR you can completely prepare them in the morning. Choose which is best for your schedule. And (3) it’s loved. There’s a reason I turn to this dough recipe time and time again. The dough is buttery and soft. In fact, the softest, richest sweet roll dough on my website.
Filling: Let’s grab dark brown sugar for the filling instead of light brown sugar and granulated sugar. Why? Intense flavor! Of course if you don’t have a bag of dark brown, you can use light brown. But I highly recommend switching things up. Major molasses, moisture, deep beautiful flavor. We’ll combine it with soft butter and cinnamon to fill the rolls.
Topping: Maple and pecan, you make us all completely weak at the knees. I decided to introduce maple into the traditional pecan sticky bun topping because I wanted to avoid using corn syrup– and because I craved maple! If we’re being honest, I was out of corn syrup so I improvised. And I’m grateful for doing so. Corn syrup is typically used to make that gooey caramel topping, but there’s no reason why pure maple syrup can’t be subbed in. There’s mouthwatering flavor there we’d be missing out on.
You know what the coolest part is? You bake these sticky buns upside down!
Flip the entire pan over onto a serving plate and that hot, sticky, brown sugared, caramel-y, buttery, maple pecan topping is revealed. And man does this stuff smell divine. Who needs cream cheese icing when you have THIS?
NOTE! It may look like a lot of ingredients, but they are mostly all repeats in each process like dark brown sugar, butter, milk, etc. 🙂
Scroll down for my step photos and additional tips for making these at home!
Maple Pecan Sticky Buns
- 1 cup (240ml) whole milk1
- 2/3 cup (135g) granulated sugar
- 1 and 1/2 tablespoons active dry or instant yeast (2 standard packets)2
- 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature and cut into 4 pieces
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 and 1/2 cups (558g) all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
- 2 cups (250g) Diamond of California chopped pecans
- 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter
- 2/3 cup (135g) packed dark brown sugar3
- 2/3 cup (160ml) whole milk1
- 1/3 cup (80ml) pure maple syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup (60g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1/2 cup (100g) packed dark brown sugar3
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- Make the dough: Heat milk to about 95°F (35°C)-- use microwave or stovetop. Pour the warm milk into the bowl of a stand electric mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment (OR you can use a handheld mixer OR no mixer, but a stand mixer is ideal). With a whisk, manually whisk in the sugar and yeast. Cover with a towel and let sit until the yeast is foamy, about 5-10 minutes. If the yeast does not dissolve and foam, start over with fresh active yeast. On low speed, beat in the softened butter until it is slightly broken up. Next add the eggs, one at a time, and then the salt. The butter won't really be mixing into the mixture, so don't be alarmed if it stays in pieces. On low speed, gradually add the flour. Once it is all added, beat on medium speed until a soft dough forms. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until the dough is soft and supple, about 6 minutes longer. *If you do not have a stand-mixer with a hook attachment, knead the dough by hand in this step.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead it with your hands for 1 minute. Form the dough into a ball and transfer it to a lightly greased bowl. Cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap, a paper towel, or aluminum foil and let sit in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 to 2 hours. Here's what I do: turn the oven on to 200°F (93°C). Once heated to that temperature, turn the oven off. Stick the covered dough inside the oven and allow it to rise in this warm environment.
- Meanwhile, make the topping: Grease/spray with nonstick spray the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish. Spread pecans in an even layer in the pan. Set aside. Combine the rest of the topping ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the butter has melted, then bring to a boil. Allow to boil for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and pour on top of pecans. Set aside.
- Turn the risen dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and, using a rolling pin, roll into a 12x18 inch rectangle. I used a ruler for accuracy. Make sure the dough is smooth and evenly thick.
- Add the filling: Spread softened butter all over dough. Top evenly with the brown sugar and cinnamon. Tightly roll up the dough to form an 18-inch-long log. Cut into 12 even rolls. Arrange them in the prepared baking pan.
- Cover the rolls very tightly with aluminum foil and allow to rise in a warm environment again for about 30-40 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F (191°C). Bake rolls for about 25 minutes until they are golden brown. About halfway through the bake time, I like to cover the rolls loosely with aluminum foil so the tops don't brown too much. Remove pan from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes.
- Using oven mitts, carefully invert the pan onto a large serving platter. The warm topping will deliciously melt down the sides! Serve warm.
Overnight instructions: To prepare the night before serving, prepare the rolls through step 5. Cover the rolls tightly and refrigerate for 8-12 hours. The next morning, remove from the refrigerator and allow to rise on the counter for 1-2 hours before continuing with step 7.
Freezing instructions: Baked rolls can be frozen up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and warm up before enjoying. You can also freeze the unbaked rolls and here's how: bake the rolls in step 7 for only about 10 minutes at 375°F (191°C). Cool completely, then cover tightly and freeze. To serve, take the rolls out of the freezer and put into the refrigerator a few hours before serving. Then, finish baking them.
- Whole milk (or 2%) is definitely a must for this rich dough and absolutely needed for the topping. Instead, you can use half-and-half for the dough and heavy cream or half-and-half for the topping. Do not use lower fat milk for the topping; it won't set up properly.
- If using active dry yeast, the rise times will be slightly longer. I always use an instant yeast.
- Dark brown sugar is strongly recommended for best flavor, but light brown can work in a pinch.
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First, prepare the dough. Very straightforward dough we’re working with here using yeast, warm milk, sugar, eggs, butter, flour, and salt. It’s a very soft dough.
Let it rise until doubled in size, usually about 1 and 1/2 hours.
While it rises though– prepare the maple pecan topping. Here’s what you’ll need, plus some whole milk.
Boil it all together on the stove, then pour over a layer of delicious Diamond of California pecans. Taste test, of course.
Topping is all set. Now back to the dough. Punch it down to release air bubbles. Roll it out. Smear butter on top. Sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon.
Roll it up tightly, slice, and place the rolls on the maple pecan topping.
Let the rolls rise *overnight* in the refrigerator or for 45ish minutes right then. Whichever works best for you. They’ll get all puffy like this:
Eat your heart out! Your work here is done.
SHOP THE RECIPE
Here are some items I used to make today’s recipe.
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