Sticky buns are a Philadelphia specialty based on the original schnecken buns, brought over to Pennsylvania by German settlers. Schnecken means snails, and Philadelphia sticky buns today remain true to the original snail shape that gave them their name.
Sticky buns sometimes get confused with cinnamon rolls, but they’re actually quite different. Unlike soft and fluffy cinnamon rolls, sticky buns are a denser but less doughy treat. Thanks to their high quantity of brown sugar and nuts, they’re heavier and heartier in both texture and flavour (here’s how to make cinnamon buns, by the way – and we’ve got vegan cinnamon roll recipes too.)
For the buns:
- 7 g (¼ oz) active dry yeast
- ¾ cup warm water
- ¾ cup warm milk
- ¼ cup sugar
- 3 tbsp canola oil
- 2 tsp salt
- 4 cups (approx.) all-purpose flour
For the filling and topping:
- ¼ cup butter softened
- ¼ cup sugar
- 3 tsp ground cinnamon
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 cup pecans, rustically chopped
- Put the warm water in a large mixing bowl and dissolve the active yeast in it. Add the milk, sugar, oil, salt, and 1¼ cups of flour.
- Beat the ingredients together until smooth, then stir in small amounts of flour until you’ve added enough to form a soft dough.
- Flour a surface and then turn the dough out onto it. Knead until smooth and elastic, then form into a large ball.
- Grease a bowl and transfer the ball of dough into it. Cover the dough and allow it to rise in a warm place until it’s roughly doubled in size. (This should take about 1 hour.)
- Punch the air out of the dough and turn it out onto a floured surface.
- Roll the dough into a rectangle about 45 cm (18 inches) long and 30 cm (12 inches) wide.
- Now onto the filling: Spread butter over the rectangle of dough to within 1 cm (½ inch) of the edges.
- In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon, then sprinkle over the butter.
- Starting with the longer side, roll the dough into a tube, pinching at the seam to seal it.
- Cut the tube of dough into 12 slices.
- Grease a baking tray.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the brown sugar and cream, pour it into the greased baking tray, then sprinkle it with pecans.
- Place the 12 dough slices over the sugar, cream, and pecans, allowing an even amount of space between each slice.
- Cover the baking tray and let the dough slices rise until roughly doubled in size (approximately another hour).
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
- Once the dough slices have risen, remove the cover and bake until well browned (approximately 30 to 35 minutes).
- Allow the finished sticky buns to cool for 1 minute before transferring them to a serving platter.
You can also prepare your pecan sticky buns the night before baking by placing the dough slices on the pecans (step 12), then covering and refrigerating them for up to 8–12 hours. An hour before you want to serve them, freshly baked, simply remove them from the refrigerator and proceed to step 15.
Looking for more delicious pecan recipes? Then why not try making pecan pie ice cream?