caramel-pecan sticky buns

by Stacy

Bread, butter, sugar, cinnamon, and ooey-gooey caramel-covered pecans. What’s not to like?

What I wanted was something warm and cinnamon-y and that’s what I got. It doesn’t get cold here, but it definitely cools down, and the lack of insulation in the buildings make our apartment chilly after sunset. In fact, it took this dough three hours to double in size because our kitchen was so cold. Luckily, I was rewarded with caramel rolls which were worth the wait.

caramel pecan sticky buns

Submitted to YeastSpotting

Because the dough took so long to rise, I prepped these at night and threw one of the prepared pans in the fridge and the other in the freezer – I just slid the whole pan into a plastic freezer bag. In the morning, I took the refrigerated pan out and let it warm up and proof for about two hours. We ended up running errands and were gone longer than I had planned, so mine were really puffy when I baked them. Adding a steam pan gave them major oven spring and I was afraid I would have caramel oozing all over my oven! Luckily, it was just perilously close. The sliced dough rolls were only an inch thick, so they puffed considerably.

caramel pecan sticky buns

I used the same dough recipe as for cinnamon rolls but adapted it for a caramel topping. After looking at a few different options, I cobbled together my own caramel from those ideas. It turned out just fine. One of my favorite parts of this recipe is the filling. The butter and sugar melt together into a delicious goo, but using room-temperature butter makes it so easy to assemble. And delicious.

Rolls can be prepped in advance then baked later, or baked and frozen for later distribution. Just wrap them tightly in waxed paper and aluminum foil, then place them in freezer bags. This also helps prevent eating the whole batch in two days. I’ve heard rumors. Secondhand. Yup.

caramel pecan sticky buns

Caramel Pecan Sticky Buns

Makes about 18 buns

1 cup milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 1/2 cups (or more) unbleached all purpose flour, divided
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 1/4 teaspoons rapid-rise or instant yeast (from 1 envelope yeast)
1 teaspoon salt
Nonstick vegetable oil spray

1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
Pinch of salt

3 tablespoons butter, softened
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons corn syrup — or, since I was out, I used pancake syrup and it worked!
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2-1 cup chopped pecans

For dough: Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat, then add milk and warm to 120°F to 130°F, or combine milk and butter in a microwave-safe container and heat about 30 to 45 seconds. Pour into stand mixer bowl with paddle attachment. Add 1 cup of the flour, sugar, egg, yeast, and salt. Beat 3 minutes on low speed, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of bowl. Add additional 2 1/2 cups flour. Beat on low until flour is absorbed and dough is sticky. If sticky, add more flour by tablespoonfuls until dough begins to form a ball and pulls away from sides of bowl. Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, adding more flour if sticky, about 8 minutes (or use a dough hook).

Form dough into ball. Lightly oil large bowl, add dough to bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, then a kitchen towel. Let dough rise until doubled in volume, about 2 hours.

For topping: Cream butter until smooth. Add sugars and beat until fluffy. Add vanilla, syrup, and salt. Mix well. Spread evenly in the bottoms of two 8-inch square (or 9-inch round) baking dishes. Sprinkle pecans over topping.

For filling: Mix brown sugar, cinnamon and pinch of salt in bowl.

Press down dough. Transfer to floured work surface. Roll out to 15×11-inch rectangle. Spread butter over dough, leaving 1/2-inch border. Sprinkle cinnamon mixture evenly over butter. Starting at the longer side, roll dough into log, pinching gently to keep it rolled up. With seam side down, cut remaining dough crosswise with sharp serrated knife into 18 equal slices (each about 3/4 to 1 inch wide).

Divide rolls evenly between the baking dishes with the prepared topping with almost no space between rolls. Cover baking dishes with plastic wrap, then kitchen towel. Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until almost doubled in volume, 40 to 45 minutes.

Position rack in lower third of oven and preheat to 375°F. Put a shallow pan on the bottom rack. Pour 1 cup of boiling water into that pan when placing rolls in the oven. Bake rolls until tops are golden, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool 5 minutes. Invert onto wire rack with waxed paper underneath to catch dripping caramel.

caramel pecan sticky buns

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Angela December 11, 2009 at 2:04 pm

Will you make these when I come to visit?


stacy December 11, 2009 at 8:02 pm

I can make them after Christmas and put them in the freezer to wait for you.


Angela December 13, 2009 at 7:42 pm

Phew. :)


Memoria December 11, 2009 at 9:02 pm

I wish I could make the same request as Angela’s! haha I guess I’ll just make these buns myself.

Yummy photos there!


stacy December 13, 2009 at 11:52 pm

Hah! Do make them and enjoy! =)


Karly December 12, 2009 at 12:08 pm

Your pictures are beautiful!


stacy December 13, 2009 at 11:55 pm

Thank you! Now I’m going back to your site to drool over coffee cake pictures. ‘Scuse me.


Stefanie December 19, 2009 at 12:13 am

Wish I could have one now for breakfast, my coffee would not be so alone then 😉 The pictures are great!


Grace January 9, 2011 at 6:33 am

I’ve used this recipe a couple of times now–thank you so much for posting it! It’s definitely become our weekend favorite.


Liz May 10, 2011 at 10:13 pm

I’ve never made sweet rolls before, but I chose your recipe from among all the Google results because the pictures looked closest to what I wanted 😉 And it turned out SO GORGEOUS!! I substituted agave syrup for corn syrup, hand kneaded the dough (since I don’t have a stand mixer) and baked the rolls in my cast-iron skillet. The dough came together dreamily, and the rolls were tender, gooey, pretty, and delicious. Next time I’m going to try adding vanilla to the dough and a splash of bourbon to the topping.

Thanks for the recipe, definitely one for the books!


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