An Intro To Sticky BunsJump to Recipe
Gone are the days of being bribed out of bed by the smell of cinnamon rolls on Sunday mornings.
It was one of my favorite treats that I looked forward to each weekend.
You always gave me the opportunity to be your little helper.
The sound of peeling back the label and a few gentle taps on the counter’s edge filled the kitchen.
The anticipated *pop* would make us jump, but I liked opening these cans for you.
It made me feel brave for you – but the reality of it, I was scared too.
I inherited a lot of your traits. The fear of the unexpected, anxiously biting my nails, having a brain that moved a million miles a minute, but more importantly, unconditional love, kindness, and compassion to a fault.
Somewhere along my food journey, I discovered that we could have bypassed the PTSD of popping those cinnamon roll cans altogether.
That easy bypass would entail making them fresh. But the purpose of my journey isn’t to teach you things you are familiar with.
The purpose is to teach you unimaginably tasty recipes.
A sibling to those sweet Sunday morning snacks are sticky buns.
They are the source of those seductive food scents that filled the malls that we would irregularly visit.
Within the last year, this sticky bun recipe has inducted itself into my recipe hall of fame.
The recipe I created is near traditional, however, it has a secret ingredient.
An ingredient that was just staring at me from the kitchen counter at my restaurant.
Rewind to an innovative idea I had of baking bread pudding in a muffin tin, lined with long and thinly sliced rhubarb.
It was in the morning, the only time I get true peace, before anyone had arrived for the day.
I had just finished slicing the rhubarb and set it aside to line the muffin trays.
Admiring the thin lime green and red contoured ribbons of rhubarb, I wondered what else I could use this for.
I asked myself, “What dessert is so sweet that it could use a bright and acidic punch in the face?”
I considered macarons, creme brulee, and tarts.
Then I remembered it was Sunday!
My memory could smell the cinnamon rolls of my childhood.
What Is A Sticky Bun?
Similar to your canned cinnamon rolls, a sticky bun is a rolled and leavened (with yeast) sweet bread.
It is proofed, then baked with a maple and brown sugar syrup. You will most often see it assaulted with pecans.
I hear you asking yourself, “What on earth is proofed?!”
Proofing is the process of resting yeasted doughs so they can relax from the mixing/kneading, while the dough creates gasses to leaven the delicate bread.
This is necessary for a lot of bready foods. Especially those glazed donuts we grew so fond of.
For every hero, there is an origin story. The sticky bun originated in the middle ages at the height of the spice trade when cinnamon was becoming very prominent.
From here, it was passed around Europe and eventually fell into the laps of the Pennsylvanian Dutch.
German immigrants introduced “Schnecken” (sticky buns) to the united states and its impact has lasted longer than their original communities.
Sticky Buns Vs. Cinnamon Rolls
Ross vs. Rachel, The X-men Vs. The Brotherhood, Edward Vs. That wolf guy; Every Protagonist needs a counterpart.
Although very similar, there are defining characteristics between the classic preparations and recipes of these sweet treats.
Where both have cinnamon sugar (and in my case, butter) lathered between each layer, how they are treated after the first proof (leavening) is where they differ.
Sticky buns are cut, then laid in a tray of sticky goo littered with pecans.
Sticky goo is the iconic maple, brown sugar, and butter sauce you see oozing off of them at the mall.
Sticky buns are then proofed (often overnight) in the goo, baked, cooled, then flipped to reveal the gorgeously sticky face of the buns.
Cinnamon rolls are proofed, cut, then placed into a baking dish, shoulder to shoulder. These are then proofed again, sprayed with fats (butter or oil), then baked.
They are typically topped with cream cheese icing.
You then serve them as they are. No flip. No mystique. No pizazz.
Old Fashioned Sticky Buns
The old fashioned sticky bun recipes will have flour, yeast, butter, milk, and sugar. They have a soft interior that soaks up that decadent glaze and crunchy pecan topping.
It is definitely a unique taste. Nonetheless, they are a sugar bomb.
The old fashioned sticky buns are fluffy, rich, and delicate when prepared fresh.
When they have been frozen or are days old, they get stale and dense.
Traditionally, you will also see raisins and other nuts used. Sometimes liqueurs, and sometimes not even rolled.
That is right. The classic sticky bun recipes are just leavened and pressed into a baking dish.
Luckily, we have evolved into creatures on the ultimate quest to perfect food.
Rhubarb Sticky Bun Recipe
Here are videos and photos of the process.
Check out below the recipe for a video demonstration!
Rhubarb And Pecan Sticky Buns
- Baking Tray
- Hand Mixer
Sticky Bun Dough
- 2 Tbsp Instant Yeast
- 1 1/2 Cups Warm Water 105 Degrees
- 1/2 Cup Sugar, Granulated White
- 2/3 Cup Milk
- 2 Each Eggs
- 2/3 Cup Butter Softened
- 6 Cups Flour All Purpose
- 1 Tsp Salt
Cinnamon Sugar Butter Filling
- 2 Cups Sugar, Granulated White
- 2 Tbsp Cinnamon Ground
- 1 Pound Butter Softened
Sticky Goo Topping
- 1 Pound Butter 1 Box
- 1 Pound Brown Sugar Check box or bag for weight
- 2 Cups Maple Syrup
- 1 Pound Rhubarb Sliced thinly on a mandolin or with a knife
- 2 Cups Pecans Toasted and chopped
- 1 Cup Granola Optional
Sticky Bun Dough
- 1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
- 2. Turn on your hot water and let it run for a 30 seconds. Adjust the cold water until it is slightly hotter than warm to the touch. If you have a thermometer, temp the water at a consistent 105 degrees F. If not, going by touch is fine.
- 3. Measure out the hot water, and add your yeast, and sugar. Mix well and set aside.
- **Chef's Tip** The sugar will feed the yeast and allow it to bloom.
- 4. Beat the softened butter in a bowl. Mix in the milk and combine well. Then add the eggs and mix until it has just combined. Set this aside as well.
- 5. In a separate bowl, combine the flour and salt.
- 6. When the yeast has bloomed, combine it with the milk mixture. Mix well. Then mix with the flour and salt. This will create a dough. beat this until it pulls away cleanly from the bottom of the bowl.
- 7. Form into a ball and transfer to a greased bowl. Cover with a towel, or plastic wrap. Let it sit in a warm place for 30 minutes until it has doubled in size.
Sticky Goo Topping
- 1. Place the butter in a pot to fully melt. Add the maple syrup, then the brown sugar. Cook on low heat until the brown sugar has dissolved. Set aside.
Cinnamon Sugar Butter Filling
- 1. Soften the butter and use the hand mixer to evenly distribute the cinnamon and sugar. Set aside.
- 1. Flour a table top or cutting board and turn your dough out on top of it. Flour the surface and roll out to a 1/2" thickness.
- 2. Spread your cinnamon butter filling starting from the side closest to you. Spread upward until you reach the upper 1/3 of the dough. Leave bare.
- 3. Slice your rhubarb on a mandolin or by hand with a knife. You can also use a peeler to get thin slices. Lay out on top of all of the cinnamon sugar butter.
- 4. Start rolling the sticky bun dough into a log starting from the side closest to you. Once you have rolled it all up, slice it into 2" Slices. Gently roll forward each slice to preserve the shape and set aside. Slice the entire of sticky buns.
- 5. In your greased baking tray or hotel pan, add your sticky goo. Tilt to cover the entire surface area. Shower with the toasted and chopped pecans and granola.
- 6. Place each bun in the tray and line up shoulder to shoulder. Spray the tops with grease or butter, cover, and set aside to proof in a warm area for 30 minutes.
- 7. When the buns have risen, place into the oven to bake for 25 minutes. Check and adjust time for doneness. You will be looking for a brown color. Pull back the layer to see if it has cooked all the way. If it looks elastic or raw, continue to bake.
- 8. When finished, turn out onto a cutting board or plate. If you want to put in extra texture and flavor, do not turn out and drizzle the top of the buns with sticky goo and your toasted pecans/granola.
Sticky buns are amazing. I really hope to make this for you and dad someday.
It would offer me no greater pleasure than to do this for you on a Sunday morning when I visit you next.