Pecan Sticky Buns

There may be no better breakfast pastry than these pillowy sticky buns made with a yeast dough enriched with butter, eggs and milk. Caramel and pecans blanket the top, and deep swirls of caramel and cinnamon sugar enliven every bite. Serve them warm and they’re irresistible.

Makes 6 sticky buns

¼ cup water, warm
8 Tbsp sugar, divided
1½ tsp dried yeast
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 eggs
½ cups whole milk
3¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick), room temperature, cut into cubes

½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
1 cup brown sugar
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp orange zest
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
½ cup heavy cream

¾ cups brown sugar
1 Tbsp cinnamon

1¼ cups roasted pecan pieces

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the warm water, 2 Tbsp sugar and yeast. Whisk until the yeast is dissolved. Let rest for 5 minutes to allow the yeast to bloom.

Add the remaining sugar, vanilla, eggs, milk, flour and salt. Using a paddle attachment, mix on low speed for 3 minutes to bring the dough together. Switch to a dough hook, set speed to medium and add the cubes of butter one at a time. Mix for 10 minutes. The dough should be wet and sticky with good elasticity when stretched.

Pull the dough from the bowl and set on a floured work surface. Shape the dough into a ball and place it in an oiled medium bowl. Cover with plastic wrap. Let rise at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size.

In a medium saucepan set over low heat, add the butter, brown sugar and salt. As the butter melts, whisk the mixture into a sauce and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the orange zest, vanilla and heavy cream. Continue to cook for another 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

Mix the brown sugar and cinnamon together. Set aside.

Brush a 9-inch cake pan with canola oil and line the base and sides with an 11-inch square piece of parchment paper (the corners will extend above the pan).

Pour ¼ cup of the Caramel Glaze into the base of the pan. Let cool to room temperature.

Add the pecan pieces to the remaining Caramel Glaze and set aside for later.

Set the proofed brioche dough on a floured work surface. Shape the dough into a 15-inch x 6-inch rectangle. Press on the flattened dough to release any trapped air bubbles. Sprinkle the dough with the Cinnamon Sugar to cover liberally. With the broad side of the rectangle facing you, roll the dough from the far side towards you creating a spiral. Gently roll it back and forth to achieve a consistent thickness. Rest the roll seam side down.

Using a sharp knife, cut the roll into 6 equal pieces. Carefully place each roll cut side down onto the Caramel Glaze in the pan.

Let rise for 1 hour at room temperature. Preheat oven to 375°F.

Place the cake pan on a rimmed baking sheet (to catch any spills that bubble over) and place the baking sheet on the center rack of the oven. Bake for 22 to 25 minutes, or until the buns are golden brown in color.

Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Loosen the buns from the pan by pulling on the extended parchment corners. If some areas stick, run a knife along the pan’s perimeter. Place a dinner plate face-down over the cake pan and invert. Gently lift the pan and remove the parchment. Keep the rolls inverted.

Warm the remaining Caramel Glaze with pecans and spoon it over the top of the rolls, allowing it to drizzle down the sides slightly. Let cool for 30 minutes.

Serve the sticky buns warm for breakfast, or if you’re feeling decadent, add some ice cream and turn them into a dessert!