I’ve never been a huge fan of sticky buns because I find many of them teeth-screamingly sweet. That said, these dial down the sweetness in favor of flavor, courtesy of two of my favorite things: pecans and maple syrup. And having the two swaddled in a butterscotch-like caramel seems to make each one taste even better than they do on their own.
I was intrigued by a new baking book, The New Sugar & Spice by Samantha Seneviratne, whose subtitle promises recipes for “bolder baking,” which immediately caught my interest. I don’t need to wow me with innovation – tweaking classics is often good enough. The wheel can only be reinvented so many times and no need to repair something that doesn’t need fixing.
It’s unfortunate that I am hooked on both, and like other expats, maple syrup and pecans are two things that we tend to hoard. Sirop d’érable (maple syrup) is available in Paris, the best bottles are sold at natural food stores, and pecans are around, although I often find them not quite at their freshest by the time they’ve hit the store shelves. So those I lug those back with me. Fortunately, on occasion, I’m treated to bags by visiting friends and guests. Thank goodness I now have an American-sized freezer.
Well…to be honest, I used to hide them in the freezer, but since I’m a compulsive nibbler, I was getting tired of teething on frozen pecans. So I gave up and started keeping them in a drawer, which means easier access to these precious beauties.
Sticky buns are very easy to make. You start with a simple yeasted dough, softened with milk. Once it rises, you strew the rolled out dough with a mixture of brown sugar and cinnamon. Then comes the fun part: Rolling them up!
The doughy roll then gets sliced into spiraled wheels. Watching them rise in the pan – then rise even further in the oven, is one of the great joys in life. Eating them, of course, is the best part. But if you’ve got kids (or even a middle-aged man, like me), this is a really fun project for a weekend or during a holiday break.
While I was making these, I posted a live video on Snapchat, which is a fun way to share short videos that I’ve been playing around with. The downside is that I got so involved with shooting and sharing that I neglected to chop the pecans before using them, as you can see in the pictures. On Snapchat, posts and videos disappear after twenty-four hours – so when it’s gone, it’s gone! But you can follow me on Snapchat for other tips, future videos and a soupçon of occasional goofiness at .
As much as I’m freaked out by new technologies, the old ones tend to vex people, too. Folks get freaked out by candy thermometers, but if you use one, you can get your caramel precisely to where it should be. I “went rogue” and didn’t use one, and my sticky buns got a touch too dark, which I liked for the “on the edge” flavor, but resulted in a sticky bun glaze that was less-runny that what some might be used to. So if you have one, you should put that candy thermometer to use when making these sticky buns.
The result of my morning of baking was a tray full of sticky buns that were great for a mid-morning snack but not bad for bringing to a meeting later that evening, which I did. The next day, people raved about them. I’ve got a few other “bold” recipes bookmarked from Samantha’s gorgeous book. And I’m going to make sure my stock of pecans doesn’t run too low, because I’ll be making these again in the near future.