Start your own family tradition with these ooey gooey caramel pecan sticky buns and you will receive oodles of thanks.
- Prepare The Dough
- 2 packages of active “rapid rise” dry yeast (buy them fresh)
- 1/2 cup of warm water (115* but I make mine just a little bit warmer as some of the warmth will quickly disappear in a room temperature mixing bowl.
- 1/2 cup scalded whole milk – allow to cool.
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 very fresh, extra large eggs
- 1/2 cup of softened butter.
- 4 1/2 cups of Gold Medal® bread flour (or King Arthur® bread flour).
- Cinnamon Sugar Mixture:
- 1/4 to 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons of very fresh ground cinnamon
- 6 tablespoons of very soft butter – sometimes I melt it and allow it to cool a little then brush it on the dough.
- Caramel Topping:
- While you are rolling out the dough and adding the “filling”, carefully melt 1 stick of unsalted butter in your baking pan. Make sure your butter does not burn.
- Sprinkle enough light brown sugar (start with 1/3 cup) over the butter and stir to combine well.
- You want the brown sugar to completely dissolve in the hot melted butter and form the beginnings of a caramel sauce. Spread the sauce evenly across the baking pan and sprinkle about 1 cup of chopped or whole pecans over the caramel. You can add as many nuts as you like – or none at all!
- Remove the pan from the oven. It is now ready for you to arrange the individually cut rolls (15 to a pan)
- Dissolve the yeast in very hot tap water.
- Stir until completely dissolved, then add the milk, the granulated sugar, the salt, the eggs (crack them first into a cup to make sure you are not adding tiny bits of shell), the very soft (almost melted) butter and 1/2 of the flour.
- Using a stand mixer (like a KitchenAid®), and the “flex-edge®” beater, incorporate all ingredients until the mixture is smooth. The regular beater misses the sides of the bowl and the dough hook just does not works at this stage in the preparation. Using this type of beater cuts down on the total amount of time that the dough is handled resulting in a much lighter and fluffier dough.
- Once the mixture is smooth, I replace the spatula like beater blade with the dough hook and add the remaining flour. Mix thoroughly until it comes off the sides of the bowl and the dough hook cleanly and is easy to handle.
- You may need to add a little bit more flour (1/4 cup at a time) to get to this stage.
- Remove the dough from the mixing bowl and place it on a lightly floured counter top. Knead lightly until the dough ball is smooth. It should not take more than 5 minutes.
- Place the dough in a large Pyrex© bowl (I spray the bowl with butter flavored PAM® but you can also rub the inside of the bowl with a stick of soft butter is even tastier), cover with cling wrap and place in a warm spot away from drafts.
- *If you do not plan on making the rolls immediately, you can place the tightly sealed bowl in the refrigerator at this point. I do this on Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve to cut prep time in half.
- Allow dough to rise until about doubled in volume.
- Punch down the dough and give it about 5 minutes to settle. Separate into two pieces. Each piece will make 15 rolls.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a large rectangle (about the size of your pan).
- Spread the rectangle of dough with Cinnamon Sugar Mixture ingredients.
- Roll the dough starting from the wide side until the seam is on the bottom. Adjust the shape of the roll to match your pan. Cut the dough into 1 inch slices and arrange over the caramel sauce.
- Allow the rolls to rise again until doubled in size.
- Bake in a 375 degree oven for 25 or 30 minutes or until golden brown on top.
- Prepare a large cookie sheet. Cut a piece of foil more than large enough to cover your baking pan and the cookie sheet. This will keep the caramel sauce from “escaping”.
- After removing the pan from the oven, cover with the foil, then place the cookie sheet on top of the foil. Carefully flip the contents of the baking pan onto the cookie sheet.
- Allow the rolls to drop out of the baking pan and the caramel sauce to drip completely through the rolls. It takes about 10 minutes. Raise the baking pan to allow steam to escape.
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”.