Food writer Amber Wilson says that when she was growing up, waking up to sticky buns in the oven was always a good sign.
“They were reserved for special weekend brunches or holidays,” Wilson says. “There was a celebration of sorts whenever we had them. I knew when I woke up to the scent of sweet, buttery sticky buns baking in the oven that that day was going to be sweet.”
Wilson, a Louisiana native who writes about Southern cuisine and culture in her blog, For the Love of the South, says she now likes to pair sticky buns with chicory café au lait, which she says is “just a fancy way of saying half smoky, chicory coffee and half steamed milk sweetened with raw cane sugar.”
Wilson, who has a cookbook on Southern food due out in March, shared her favorite recipe with us for National Sticky Bun Day, which takes place every Feb. 21. She says the key to these pillows of sticky goodness is the yeast dough, which requires a little patience while it rises but imparts a texture and flavor that’s worth the wait. Wilson adds pecans to add a touch of complexity that also serves as a counterpoint to all that sweetness.
“These sticky buns are heavenly,” she says. “The dough is soft, sweet and buttery. The addition of the crunchy pecans adds a lovely contrast. It’s well worth the time and effort the moment these sticky buns cross your lips.”
To complete your special-occasion treat, pair these sticky buns with Community® Coffee & Chicory blend, our version of the Southern favorite that combines rich, roasted Arabica coffee beans with high-quality chicory for a bolder, sweeter flavor than coffee alone. We recommend trying it café-au-lait-style with steamed milk for a traditional flavor.
Pecan Sticky Buns
1/3 cup whole milk
5 tablespoons sugar, divided
1 3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 large eggs
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick butter, cut into 1-inch pieces, plus 1 tablespoon melted butter
Heat milk in a heatproof measuring cup for a few minutes, until a thermometer reads 110 degrees. Stir in the yeast and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Whisk to blend. Let stand for about 5 minutes, until foamy. Whisk in the eggs.
Combine the remaining sugar, flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook. Add the milk mixture and the butter, one piece at a time until it’s fully incorporated. Mix on medium speed for one minute and on medium-high for five minutes.
Brush a medium-sized bowl with melted butter, then place the dough into the bowl. Brush the remaining butter over the top of the dough. Chill for two hours, then let the dough rise in a warm area for 45 minutes.
1 3/4 cup pecans, chopped
1 stick butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
Spread the pecans in a dry pan on low heat. Toast just until fragrant, then set aside.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the brown sugar, cream, honey and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for a few minutes. Pour one cup of the glaze into a 9-by-9-by-2-inch pan, being sure to coat all sides. Place 1/2 cup of pecans over the glaze in the pan. Set aside.
1 stick butter, room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
Dough, see recipe above
Beat the butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt until creamy and blended. Set aside.
Punch down the risen dough and transfer to a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough until it’s about 1/4-inch thick. Spread the butter mixture onto the dough, leaving an inch on all sides. Sprinkle 3/4 cup of pecans over the butter mixture. Roll up the dough from the side closest to you. Pinch the ends together once rolled completely.
Cut into eight even slices. Place the dough, cut-side down, onto the prepared dish. Whisk the egg and a little water to create an egg wash, then brush it over the top of the dough. Place into a 350-degree oven; after 20 minutes turn the pan and bake for another 20 minutes. Spoon remaining glaze over the buns with the rest of the pecans.