These Pecan Caramel Sticky Buns from Baker Bettie are the perfect holiday morning breakfast! Prep them the day before and bake them the next morning! The dough and the filling are essentially the same as cinnamon rolls, but we’re making a caramel sauce with pecans for the topping!
FOR THE DOUGH
- 7 grams (1 package, 2 ¼ teaspoon) active dry or quick rise yeast
- 227 grams (1 cup, 240 milliliters) whole milk (lower fat or non-dairy can be substituted)
- 50 grams (¼ cup) granulated sugar
- 480-600 grams (4-5 cups) all-purpose flour
- 7 grams (1 ½ teaspoons) kosher salt or table salt
- 85 grams (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, very soft
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
FOR THE FILLING
- 200 grams (1 cup) brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 56 grams (1/2 stick) butter, melted
FOR THE CARAMEL PECAN TOPPING
- 200 grams (1 cup) granulated sugar
- 120 grams (½ cup, 120 milliliters) water
- 235 grams (1 cup, 240 milliliters) heavy cream
- 2 grams (½ teaspoon) kosher salt
- 200 grams (2 cups) roughly chopped pecans
FOR THE DOUGH
- Warm the milk to about 110-115°F/43-46°C. In a large mixing bowl add the warm milk, the yeast, and ½ teaspoon of sugar and stir to combine. Let sit for 5-10 minutes until you see some bubbles and foaming.
- Add 480 grams (4 cups) of flour, the rest of the sugar, salt, butter, and eggs to the mixing bowl. Use clean hands to mix together until a sticky dough forms.
- If kneading by hand, turn the dough out onto a floured countertop. Dust flour over the top of the dough and knead the dough by hand for about 8-10 minutes until smooth and elastic. If kneading with a stand mixer, fit the mixer with a dough hook and knead at medium speed for 6-8 minutes. Add more flour as needed while kneading the dough. When the dough is finished being kneaded it will still be slightly sticky to the touch, but feels smooth and elastic and should stand tall when rounded into a ball.
- Move the kneaded dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turn to coat, and cover with a piece of plastic wrap, a damp cloth, or a shower cap (my preference) to bulk ferment until doubled in size, about 1 hour for rapid rise yeast and 2 hours for active dry yeast.
FOR THE FILLING AND TOPPING
When the dough is almost finished rising, make the filling and the topping.
- For the Filling: Combine the brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and set aside.
- For the Topping: In a saucepan at least 3 quarts in size, add the sugar and pour the water over the sugar being careful not to splash sugar granules up the side of the pan.
- Turn the heat on to medium. The sugar will start to dissolve in the water and will come to a boil. As the mixture boils, the sugar will start caramelizing. Stay close by because the caramelization process moves very quickly. Do not stir during this process or you risk re-crystallizing the sugar resulting in a gritty texture. If the sugar is caramelizing unevenly, gently swirl the pan to even out the color.
- Once the sugar smells nutty and is golden brown, carefully pour all of the heavy cream into the pan and stir vigorously with a silicone spatula. The mixture will bubble up quite a bit.
- Add the salt and continue cooking for about 1-2 more minutes until smooth.
- Pour the caramel sauce into a 9×13″ pan and sprinkle the pecans on top.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured countertop and roll it out into a rectangle about 18 x 12-inches (46 x 30 cm) in size.
- Brush the dough with the melted butter and sprinkle the cinnamon/sugar filling evenly over the dough leaving about ½-inch of the dough free from filling at the top long edge.
- Starting on the long edge that does have filling, tightly roll the dough up into a log. Pinch the clean edge to the log to seal.
- Use a serrated knife to divide the dough into 4 equal pieces.
- Now cut each quarter of the log into 3 equal pieces to get 12 rolls.
- Transfer the cut rolls into the baking dish, setting them on top of the caramel/pecan topping, and cover with plastic wrap.
- Proof the rolls for about 45 minutes if using quick rise yeast and about 75 minutes if using active dry yeast. Alternatively, if you want to bake them the next day, let them rise for about 30 minutes at room temperature then transfer them to the refrigerator for up to 16 hours. Take them out of the refrigerator about 1 hour before baking to allow the yeast time to wake up.
- Position an oven rack to the center position. Preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes, until golden brown.
- Within the first 5 minutes of taking them out of the oven, flip them out of the pan so that the caramel and pecan bottom becomes the top.