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Caramel Pecan Sticky Buns – Homemade sweet rolls are the perfect way to start the holiday season. At least in this family.
While this is definitely not a spur of the moment recipe, make sticky buns just once and you are well on your way to opening a breakfast bakery and the start of a family tradition.
Fresh cinnamon rolls instantly become the special breakfast or brunch treat that officially heralds the Thanksgiving or Christmas holiday season.
Classic Pennsylvania Dutch cinnamon rolls have been part of this family’s culinary repertoire for years. We judge them all by a few standards – the Penn State stickies to the Sticky Buns from Good-N-Plenty® whether filled with raisins, topped with nuts or just plain.
Our favorite? Homemade ooey-gooey caramel drenched sweet rolls with or without pecans. Yes, it requires two batches to make everyone happy campers.
By the way, a pan of Caramel Pecan Sticky Buns makes a wonderful gift for friends and family members!
Start your own family tradition with these ooey gooey caramel pecan sticky buns and you will receive oodles of thanks.
For a nice change that produces a roll akin to an apple fritter, use Apple Pie Spices instead of just cinnamon in the dry sugar mixture. Coarsely chop a couple large apples and cook in a scant amount of apple juice until just soft. Cool.
Before rolling the dough, spread a layer of the cooked apples bits over the sugar coating.
Instead of spreading whole pecans in the bottom of the pan, chop them fine. I actually prefer finely chopped walnuts when making the “apple rolls”.
When you want to put the “sweet” in sweet dough and make your sticky buns (that’s what we call them) irresistible!
Use the freshest ingredients you can find. By freshest, I mean check the date stamp on the yeast, the flour, the pecans (or walnuts).
I have yeast in the cupboard which was technically considered to still be good according to the date stamp but I purchased yeast packets dated “best before May of 2016”. That fresh!
Believe me, it makes a world of difference in the results.
Buy farm fresh eggs, the best butter (unsalted) and do not make substitutions (as in using dark brown sugar instead of light brown sugar in the caramel sauce). No skimping allowed and you will be rewarded with tons of compliments.
Why use bread flour instead of all purpose flour? It does a better job of rising to the occasion!
Bread flour has considerably more protein and gluten content than regular flour and it helps the yeast rise well.
If sweet dough is never quite sweet enough, add a teaspoon of Buttery Sweet dough flavoring.
I’ve baked caramel pecan sticky buns for a long time. Most of the kitchen gadgets I use are “vintage” models but it goes without saying that new models work just as well.
My first stand mixer was a Harvest Gold colored Sunbeam Mixmaster similar to this one found on eBay® (not the current Heritage Series® – the original model) with the wide bottom glass bowls by Free King Ware. The mixer came with two bowls. The large bowl is still perfect for making dough rise.
Rolling out the dough on the kitchen counter is the default option. However, I now make things easier by rolling out the dough on a silicone baking mat with measurements.
Baking with Natural Yeast: Pancakes, Waffles, Cinnamon Rolls and MuffinsAmish Cooking – Cinnamon Rolls and Mixing Bowls CookbookBagels, Baguettes, Muffins, Soft Pretzels, Pizzas, Loaves, Cinnamon Rolls
In order to make Cinnabon® sized rolls (my rolls are HUGE – only 15 to a pan), I invested in commercial grade, large and deep rectangular roasting pans whose only purpose (in this kitchen) is to make my sticky buns. For smaller quantities, consider this silicone baking mold or healthy ceramic bake ware.
Measuring 17 by 12 by 3 inches deep, my cinnamon roll pans can best be compared to lasagna pans. This pan is also ideal in size.
Don’t the handles get in the way? Yes and no. The handles do make it easier to get a firm grip on the pan but I also use them to prop the pan off the rolls once it has been flipped over. My cookie sheets fit perfectly in the space between the handles.
So… foil over the rolls, cookie sheet over the foil and flip!
After a few seconds, the entire pan of rolls has dropped onto the foil and the handles provide just enough space to vent the escaping steam.
These large heavy duty pans allow me to prepare a caramel topping which does not burn during the baking process as well as plenty of room for the rolls to expand during proof time. Once cooked, the rolls literally fill the pan to the rim.
These are breakfast rolls right? So instead of cooking bacon for 15 hungry family members, I assigned one cook to prepare two pounds of bacon strips but I crumbled at least a pound of crisp bacon one batch of cinnamon rolls after flipping them out of the pan. Candied bacon is not unheard of but omit the pecans on that batch of sweet rolls. Just leave it at gooey caramel and bits of crisp country bacon.
Most cinnamon buns and even other recipes for sticky buns cover the top of the buns with a caramel sauce or some type of glaze. Easy enough.
What makes these slightly different is that you make the caramel sauce in the bottom of the pan before you place the rolls in the pan and wait for them to rise a second time.
This is only a little more time consuming but what you have is a caramel sauce that partially bakes into the roll and creates a thin candy coating when cool.
When you remove the rolls from the oven, the pan is quickly flipped over onto a cookie sheet. Do not remove the pan immediately. Prop it up with a spoon to allow the steam to escape and let the sauce drizzle over and between the rolls.
I know what you are thinking. The photos in this post do not look like the recipe results I just described. There is a reason.
I’ve been very disappointed in my attempt to prepare overnight caramel pecan sticky buns. The dough does not proof correctly after sitting for so many hours.
This Thanksgiving, I tried to make the caramel pecan sticky buns ahead of time and “transportable”.
According to several reliable sources, it was possible to freeze the prepared rolls and still have fluffy sweet rolls the next morning.
Results? All I can say is that I tried it and did not like the results.
Oh… there was nothing wrong with the taste of the rolls.
It was partly due to the fact that they were previously frozen, then thawed yet never fully completed that second “rise” (Step 14 in the Instructions).
I should simply have left the dough overnight in the fridge as I normally do (tightly sealed in the proofing bowl) and baked them the next morning – my normal routine.
Add to that – not being in my kitchen, not using my pans, cooking in a “state of the art” gas oven controlled by a electrical circuit board in an area where the power fluctuates constantly. And that day, it fluctuated constantly.
Ever had to “reboot” your range? In other words, the oven was off by close to 50 degrees at any given time during the cooking phase.
What this means is that for the purpose of full disclosure, I am simply going to have to prepare another batch of Caramel Pecan Sticky Buns. I doubt anyone in this household will object.
Christmas is just around the corner so I will be making another batch very soon.
1 Cook, 2 Countries & A Taste For World Cuisines: Cooking A La Mode De Chez Nous - Cuisine d'Hier Et d'Aujourd'hui! For the love of home style cooking and great food. Memories are made of this!