I recently wrote a post about a Baby Shower Brunch I had hosted. I promised to share my easy recipes from the brunch. This is one of them.
I've been making this recipe for, gulp, over 30 years. (It stuns me that I'm old enough to have made a recipe for that long!) It's a version of a recipe shared with me by my college friend, Penny. She got it from her mother. So, if ever there's been a recipe that is tried-and-true, it's this one.
This can be baked in several kinds of pans, but I have found a 9x13 pan results in the most evenly cooked, easy-to-serve sticky buns. The original recipe was made in a bundt pan--some would call it monkey bread that way. I used a bundt pan for many years--it's pretty and festive that way. Either will work, but I recommend a 9x13 pan if you're feeding a crowd--it's much easier to serve, and every piece is equally good and evenly cooked.
Speed scratch convenience. Speed scratch cooking is when you combine a good quality prepared food with fresh ingredients to make the recipe easier and faster to prepare. This recipe uses frozen bread dough. I suppose you could make your own bread dough from scratch, if that's your thing. But honestly, part of the beauty of this recipe is that you start with ready-made frozen bread dough and end up with something that is gooey and delicious and tastes like it is totally made from scratch.
Make-ahead convenience. This is one of the best things about this recipe. It can be assembled the night before, left out to rise overnight, and baked for breakfast first thing in the morning. I've recently discovered that I can make it 1 to 2 days ahead and let it do the rising INSIDE the fridge. That was a new concept for me--I thought that bread dough needed warmth in order to rise. Not so. It needs more time to rise in the fridge, but rise it does! I absolutely love being able to make this well in advance of when I will bake it. There is no preparation or stress that morning. It's perfect for serving to overnight guests, at brunches, and during the holidays. In our family, we have had these sticky buns every Christmas morning for, gulp, 30 years.
Impress the heck out of your guests. I'm always a bit taken aback by the raves I get from guests when I serve this. It looks hard, and tastes like it must have taken a long time to make. So, they're impressed. When I admit how easy it is, everyone wants the recipe. So many people at the baby shower asked for this recipe, that I had to get this post written right away. They've been nagging me anxious. (You know who you are!)
Step-by-step photos for making Pull-Apart Sticky Buns:
Step 1. Assemble the ingredients. There aren't many: sugar, pecans (chopped or whole), cinnamon, and butter.
You'll also need 2 pounds of frozen bread dough. For years, I used 2 of Rhodes frozen 1-pound loaves and cut each partially thawed loaf into 12 pieces. That works fine. Recently, I started using 24 of Rhodes frozen dinner rolls--the exact same dough, but it's already in smaller portions and ready to use. Even easier. Now that's speed scratching!
Step 2. Whisk together the sugar and cinnamon.
Step 3. In a separate bowl, add the butter--cut it into a few pieces. Zap it in the microwave until it's melted.
Step 4. Chop the pecans (or purchase chopped pecans to begin with).
Step 5. Butter a 9x13 pan. Step 6. Sprinkle the pecans evenly into the bottom of the pan. NOTE: If you have some no-nut eaters, just sprinkle the pecans over part of the pan.
Step 7. Set up an assembly line--the frozen rolls (or cut loaf pieces), melted butter, cinnamon/sugar, and pan with nuts.
Step 8. Dip the frozen dough in melted butter. Step 9. Roll the dough in the cinnamon/sugar mixture. Coat it well on all sides.
Step 10. Place the dough pieces in the pan in even rows.
Step 11. Combine the remaining butter and cinnamon/sugar. If the butter has started to harden, zap it for a few seconds in the microwave to liquefy it again. Stir it.
Step 12. Spoon the mixture evenly over each piece of dough. Step 13. Cover with plastic wrap that has been coated with cooking spray.
Step 14. Let the dough rise until doubled. Here are 3 make-ahead methods to try:
If left out, it will normally take 6-8 hours for the sticky buns to rise depending on the temperature of your house. Make it before going to bed, let it rise overnight, and it's ready to cook in the morning.
Put the pan in the fridge to partially rise for 20-24 hours. Remove it from the fridge and let it rise for another 2-3 hours at room temperature. This is the way I prepared the sticky buns for the baby shower brunch. The brunch was at 10 am; so I assembled the pan at 8 am the morning before the brunch, covered and put it in the fridge, removed it from the fridge the next morning at 6 am and let the buns rise at room temperature until I baked them at 9 am.
Put the pan in the fridge for 44-48 hours. That's what I did with this batch--assembled them Friday morning, baked them Sunday morning. The photos below show what the pan looked like when I took it out of the fridge after 44 hours. I let the pan warm to room temperature for 45 minutes, and it was ready to bake.
Step 15. Bake for 40-45 minutes until browned. I put a loose sheet of foil across the top during the last 10 minutes of baking, because my oven tends to over brown things. Keep an eye on yours, that may or may not be necessary.
These taste fantastic, and they also have satisfying textures. The crusty sugar you see on top has a crunchy, streussel-type texture and taste. The butter melts down and mixes with the nuts and sugar on the bottom of the pan and makes a caramely syrup. So, they're both crunchy and gooey.
Step 16. Let the sticky buns rest in the pan for 5 minutes after removing them from the oven. Then put the serving tray on top of the pan and quickly flip the tray and pan over (carefully--the pan is hot!).
Remove the pan, and TA-DAH, beautiful, gooey, delicious sticky buns!
Now all that's left is digging in and eating these gooey delights. Serve them warm--they're so much better that way. If you have leftovers (unlikely, I know), it's easy to reheat a plate by zapping them in the microwave for 15-20 seconds.
Well, that's what I'm making for Christmas breakfast. For the, gulp, 31st time. What are you having?
Make it a yummy day!
Pull-Apart Sticky Buns
Servings: 12 2-bun servings
2 pounds frozen bread dough (24 Rhodes frozen dinner rolls; or 2 1-lb loaves, partially thawed for 1/2 hour and each loaf cut into 12 even pieces)
1-1/2 cups sugar
1/8 cup cinnamon
3/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup chopped pecans
Generously butter a 9x13 baking pan. Sprinkle nuts evenly in bottom of pan. Combine sugar and cinnamon in small bowl. Melt butter in separate bowl. Dip each roll or dough piece in butter, then in sugar mixture. Place dipped dough in pan in even rows. Mix remaining butter and sugar mixture; distribute evenly over the tops of the dough. Cover with plastic wrap that is coated with cooking spray. Let rise until doubled* and bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes, until browned. (Cover loosely with sheet of foil in last 10-15 minutes, if browning too quickly.) Remove from oven, let cool in pan for 5 minutes and invert onto serving platter. Serve warm.
*MAKE AHEAD RISING METHODS (times may vary depending on the temperature of your house) 1. Assemble the night before, leave out to rise overnight (6-8 hours), and bake first thing in the morning. 2. Assemble 20-24 hours in advance, put in the fridge to partially rise. The next day, remove from fridge and allow to rise at room temperature for 2-3 hours before baking. 3. Assemble 44-48 hours in advance, put in the fridge to rise. Remove from fridge and warm to room temperature for 45 minutes before baking.
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