I've been making this recipe for, gulp, over 35 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 also 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 and other special occasions for, gulp, over 35 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.
Here's a 1-minute video that shows you how simple it is to make these.
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. (Any brand of frozen bread dough should work.) For years, I used 2 of Rhodes' frozen 1-pound loaves and cut each partially thawed loaf into 12 pieces. That works fine. For added convenience in recent years, I've been using 24 of Rhodes' frozen dinner rolls--the exact same dough, but it's already in smaller portions and ready to use. 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 glass or metal baking 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 4 make-ahead methods to try:
Step 15. Bake for 40-45 minutes until browned and done in the center. 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.
The baked buns have satisfying textures. The crusty sugar you see on top has a crunchy, streusel-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!). Lift off 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.
These sticky buns have taken center stage on our Christmas breakfast table for 35+ years. For our family, it just wouldn't be Christmas without them. We often have them for other special occasion breakfasts and brunches, too. (In the photo below, I baked the sticky buns in a 9x13 pan and then inverted them into a larger 10x15 pyrex baking dish for serving at the table.)
Want to make a smaller batch? Simply cut all of the ingredients in half to make 12 sticky buns instead of 24. You can bake 12 sticky buns in an 8x8 baking dish, 9" deep dish pie plate, or 9" round cake pan (with 2"tall sides). Reduce the baking time by 5 minutes for a smaller batch.
If you have leftovers (unlikely, I know), it's easy to reheat a serving of sticky buns by zapping them in the microwave for 15-20 seconds.
Make it a Yummy day!
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