pecan honey sticky buns (twd)

My experience with sticky buns is limited; I guess we were more of a cinnamon roll family. Madam Chow’s TWD choice for this week would be something new for me then.

Dorie is insistent that you don’t cut the brioche dough in half. But, I did anyway. (Actually, I made a third of the recipe.) It would have been the same amount of effort to make the whole thing, and it freezes well, but do I really need this incredibly buttery bread dough to be conveniently at my fingertips? Nah. I admit I had to get a little creative with my mixer since I was making such a small amount – I mixed with the paddle for a while after adding the butter, then switched to the dough hook for the last few minutes of kneading.

I had the same problem that a number of other TWD members did with this recipe – 2 hours of rising in the morning, plus putting the rolls together and baking makes for a long wait until breakfast. I think it would work to form the rolls the night before, put them in the fridge overnight, and let them rise in a warmed oven the next morning. That should cut the waiting time in half.

The brioche made for a really light and airy base for sticky buns. But, I wonder if all that butter is worth it once it’s drowned in glaze? I’m thinking my base for cinnamon rolls would work just fine, with only about a third of the butter.

Overall, I thought these were great. The bread was light and tender, the glaze wasn’t too sweet, and they weren’t nearly as sticky as I was expecting. I almost wish I had made some extra to store in the freezer!

Pecan Honey Sticky Buns (from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours)

Makes 15 buns

For the Glaze:
1 cup (7 ounces) packed light brown sugar
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
¼ cup honey
1½ cups pecans (whole or pieces)

For the Filling:
¼ cup (1.75 ounces) sugar
3 tablespoons (packed) light brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

For the Buns:
½ recipe dough for Golden Brioche loaves (see below), chilled and ready to shape (make the full recipe and cut the dough in half after refrigerating it overnight)

Generously butter a 9 by 13-inch baking pan (a Pyrex pan is perfect for this).

To make the glaze: In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring the brown sugar, butter, and honey to a boil over medium-low heat, stirring frequently to dissolve the sugar. Pour the glaze into the buttered pan, evening it out as best you can by tilting the pan or spreading the glaze with a heatproof spatula. Sprinkle over the pecans.

To make the filling: Mix the sugars and cinnamon together in a bowl. If necessary, in another bowl, work the butter with a spatula until it is soft, smooth and spreadable.

To shape the buns: On a flour-dusted work surface, roll the chilled dough into a 16-inch square. Using your fingers or a pastry brush, spread the softened butter over the dough. Sprinkle the dough with the cinnamon sugar, leaving a 1-inch strip bare on the side farthest from you. Starting with the side nearest you, roll the dough into a cylinder, keeping the roll as tight as you can. (At this point, you can wrap the dough airtight and freeze it for up to 2 months . . . . Or, if you want to make just part of the recipe now, you can use as much of the dough as you’d like and freeze the remainder. Reduce the glaze recipe accordingly).

With a chef’s knife, using a gentle sawing motion, trim just a tiny bit from the ends of the roll if they’re very ragged or not well filled, then cut the log into 1-inch thick buns. (Because you trim the ragged ends of the dough, and you may have lost a little length in the rolling, you will get 15 buns, not 16.) Fit the buns into the pan cut side down, leaving some space between them.

Lightly cover the pan with a piece of wax paper and set the pan in a warm place until the buns have doubled in volume, about 1 hour and 45 minutes. The buns are properly risen when they are puffy, soft, doubled and, in all likelihood, touching one another.

Getting ready to bake: When the buns have almost fully risen , center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Remove the sheet of wax paper and put the pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat. Bake the sticky buns for about 30 minutes, or until they are puffed and gorgeously golden; the glaze will be bubbling away merrily. Pull the pan from the oven.

The sticky buns must be unmolded minutes after they come out of the oven. If you do not have a rimmed platter large enough to hold them, use a baking sheet lined with a silicone mate or buttered foil. Be careful – the glaze is super-hot and super-sticky.

Golden Brioche Loaves

2 packets active dry yeast (each packet of yeast contains approx. 2 1/4 teaspoons)
1/3 cup just-warm-to-the-touch water
1/3 cup just-warm-to-the-touch whole milk
3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/4 (1.75 ounces) cup sugar
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature but still slightly firm

What You’ll Need for the Glaze (you would brush this on brioche loaves, but not on the sticky buns):
1 large egg
1 tablespoon water

To Make The Brioche: Put the yeast, water and milk in the bowl of a stand mixer and, using a wooden spoon, stir until the yeast is dissolved. Add the flour and salt, and fit into the mixer with the dough hook, if you have one. Toss a kitchen towel over the mixer, covering the bowl as completely as you can – this will help keep you, the counter and your kitchen floor from being showered in flour. Turn the mixer on and off a few short pulses, just to dampen the flour (yes, you can peek to see how you’re doing), then remove the towel, increase the mixer speed to medium-low and mix for a minute or two, just until the flour is moistened. At this point, you’ll have a fairly dry, shaggy mess.

Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula, set the mixer to low and add the eggs, followed by the sugar. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for about 3 minutes, until the dough forms a ball. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter in 2 tablespoon-sized chunks, beating until each piece is almost incorporated before adding the next. You’ll have a dough that is very soft, almost like batter. Increase the speed to medium-high and continue to beat until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 10 minutes.

Transfer the dough to a clean bowl (or wash out the mixer bowl and use it), cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature until nearly doubled in size, 40 to 60 minutes, depending upon the warmth of your room.

Deflate the dough by lifting it up around the edges and letting it fall with a slap to the bowl. Cover the bowl with the plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator. Slap the dough down in the bowl every 30 minutes until it stops rising, about 2 hours, then leave the uncovered dough in the refrigerator to chill overnight. (After this, you can proceed with the recipe to make the brioche loaves, or make the sticky buns instead, or freeze all or part of the dough for later use.)

The next day, butter and flour two 8½ by 4½-inch pans.

Pull the dough from the fridge and divide it into 2 equal pieces. Cut each piece of the dough into 4 equal pieces and roll each piece into a log about 3½ inches long. Arrange 4 logs crosswise in the bottom of each pan. Put the pans on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat, cover the pans lightly with wax paper and leave the loaves at room temperature until the dough almost fills the pans, 1 to 2 hours. (Again, rising time with depend on how warm the room is.)

Getting Ready To Bake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
To Make the Glaze: Beat the egg with the water. Using a pastry brush, gently brush the tops of the loaves with the glaze.

Bake the loaves until they are well risen and deeply golden, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer the pans to racks to cool for 15 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the pans and turn the loaves out onto the racks. Invert again and cool for at least 1 hour.


  1. These look perfect, love the little tins too!!!

  2. Gorgeous photos!

  3. I love the shape of your sticky buns, very, very cute! They look just delicious!

  4. Love the photo of the empty tins!

  5. I love the individual ones, and I agree – this probably doesn’t need such a rich dough given the stickiness.

  6. Cute pans! I like the idea of the individuals. I agree about the brioche dough. It’s a wonderful rich dough, but when you slather on the rest of the stuff, it may get a little lost.

  7. ::wiping screen:: Oops, just drooled on the screen. 🙂 These look absolutely incredible. I want some sooo bad.

  8. I love the picture ! It’s beautiful !

  9. Oh, your pans remind me of my individual pans. I agree, it’s no problem to half the recipe!

    Your buns look delicious!

  10. Gorgeous!! These look heavenly!

  11. Oh my word. Putting them in the little brioche tins was such a good idea. They really look magnificent. Good job.

  12. Great job! I love that you used the individual tins. They turned out beautifully.

  13. How flipping cute are those!? Awesome job, and great photos!

  14. The little pans – what a great idea. Beautiful!

  15. I see what you are saying about waiting for breakfast but. I think they have to chill after the rise too get the tender crumb. I think you are onto something though. You could do it all the day before the rising, the chilling the forming and then put them in the fridge for over night. In the morning pop those puppies right into the oven.

  16. love, love these! they are so cute! 🙂 your photos are lovely, too. the mini pans are adorable… i actually saw ones like them at the store the other day, but i forced myself to resist 😉

  17. how absolutely CUTE are those little brioche bunlets…?!?!?! what a wonderful idea. i actually worked it out that i used 1/3 of the brioche for 8 buns, so the butter consumption was not that bad when portioned out thankfully. or so i tell myself 😀

  18. love love love the brioche a tete sticky buns, these look really terrific!

  19. Oh man!!!! I have the SAME pans but dingbat over here didn’t think to use them!! *smacks head with hand*. I’m going to tape a sticky note to the dough to remind myself.

  20. Beautiful, beautiful photos and buns!!!

  21. Individual ones! Great idea.

  22. How cute! I love that you made them in the mini brioche pans!

  23. Love the little brioche tins! Beautiful photos.
    Shari@Whisk: a food blog

  24. The pictures are gorgeous and the mini pans were a great idea!

  25. I made these for a brunch with guests, so the timing worked out well. I really like the idea of the mini brioche pans – everything looks great!

  26. corre! says:

    Oh my, these look heavenly…
    I wonder, would it be possible to replace the honey in the glaze with maple syrup?

  27. corre! – I think you could definitely replace the honey with syrup.

  28. I love that last photo of the empty brioche tins! I’ve got to get me some of those!

  29. love the results from using the individual brioche tins…beautiful results!

  30. wow, love how you made them individually! they look so perfect and gooey

  31. Those buns look amazing. I like how you baked them in the brioche tins. And all that oozing sauce..MMmm!

  32. Stormy S. says:

    Can’t wait to try, would you share where to get tins?

  33. Stormy S – I got the tins at Williams-Sonoma.