Sticky Buns, which my mother, whose family is from Philly, calls “Philadelphia Sticky Buns”, are my all time favorite holiday treat. When I went to school in Philadelphia, I was delighted to learn that there was a bakery around the corner from my apartment which made sticky buns just like my mom’s, and whenever I was feeling homesick, I went there for sticky buns that were way out of my budget. They are a treat that I make for my own family on special occasions, or to make an ordinary day a special occasion. For mine, I use a variation of my mother’s refrigerator rolls (I use buttermilk, less sugar, add barley malt, vanilla, and a small amount of an alternate flour preferably barley, but whole wheat if that’s what is around). The topping is my variation of a recipe she copied from Karo Cookery (I use more brown sugar, less corn syrup, plus vanilla). To me these are the taste of love.
makes 1 dozen; 1 9 x 13” pan
1 cake yeast (or 1 ¼ tsp instant acting yeast)
½ c buttermilk
¾ c soft butter
¾ c sugar
1 ½ tsp salt
2 medium potatoes (to make 1 c mashed potatoes)
1 c hot potato water (from mashed potatoes)
1 T barley malt (optional, but preferred)
½ tsp vanilla
2 lg eggs, at room temp., beaten
½ c barley flour (or whole wheat flour)
4-5 c unbleached white flour, about (I use bread flour, but all purpose flour is fine)
Topping & Cinnamon Swirl
1 c corn syrup (dark is better than light)
1 ½ c brown sugar (dark is better than light)
½ c butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 T cinnamon
½ c sugar
3 T butter, melted
2 ½ c pecans, chopped coarsely
In This Recipe
Generously butter a 9 x 13” pan, glass or metal, I prefer glass.
Prepare mashed potatoes and potato water: grate potatoes and place in saucepan with 1 ½ c water. Bring to boil, and let simmer for about 15 or 20 minutes, until potatoes are soft enough to run through a sieve. Be sure to reserve water; it should be thick and starchy.
Warm buttermilk to 110-115. It will separate, but don’t worry about it. Whisk it with a fork and dissolve yeast in warmed buttermilk. Let proof for 5 minutes.
Add soft butter, sugar, salt, mashed potatoes, barley malt and vanilla to buttermilk and yeast mixture.
When potato water has cooled to 110-115, stir it into yeast mixture. Add barley or whole wheat flour and about 2 c white flour. A bit at a time, add enough flour to make a stiff dough (this can be done by hand or with a dough hook on a stand mixer). Knead well, by hand or machine.
Dust with flour, cover with a towel, and set aside while you prepare your topping & cinnamon swirl.
Topping & Cinnamon Swirl
Place ingredients from corn syrup to vanilla in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat and boil for 1 minute.
Pour into prepared baking pan, and sprinkle pecans evenly over pan. It may seem like a lot of topping, but that’s good.
Make cinnamon sugar by mixing sugar with cinnamon.
Make the rolls:
With a rolling pin, roll dough out on floured counter into a 12 x 18” rectangle. Brush with melted butter, and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Again, it may seem like a lot, but that is good: use it all! From the long side, roll the dough tightly into a long log. It may spread out longer than 18”, and it may not stay too tight, but don’t sweat it. Slice the log into pieces that are about 1 ½” long and place evenly in pan (there should be about a dozen).
Cover pan tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, or to 2 ½ days (the refrigerator dough itself will last up to a week if punched down. I’ve let the assembled Sticky Buns sit in the refrigerator for 2 ½ days, but haven’t tried it for longer).
When ready to cook, remove pan from refrigerator, remove plastic wrap, and let come up to about room temp, about an hour and a half or so. Preheat oven to 350, place on middle rack in oven (with cookie sheet or foil on baking pan on rack below to catch any topping that bubbles up and over). Cook for about 40 – 50 minutes, until nice and brown and rolls in center are cooked through. Check after about 30 minutes, and if they are looking dark at this point, cover very loosely with foil. They should be dark, with the topping bubbling up and around all of the rolls.
Remove from oven and let rest for 20 or 30 minutes on a rack away from the heat of the oven. Unmold by covering the whole pan with a board or large plate, and flipping over, but don’t unmold too soon, while it is still hot, or the topping will just run out onto the counter. Best enjoyed while still warm.