Sticky Buns: Brioche, Butter And Another Tuesday With Dorie

Recipes: Brioche and Pecan Sticky Buns

Sticky buns epitomize all that’s wonderful about weekend breakfast; indulgence, leisure, hanging out with people who are happy to see you in your pajamas, and of course, an excess of butter.  They go perfectly with strong coffee too. And because I was lucky enough to be chosen as one of the hosts for this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie, I get to share the sticky bun recipe from Baking with Julia with you.

I’ve eaten and baked many a sticky bun.  I’ve even written about them before. But this sticky bun recipe – made from brioche dough, is a keeper. Watch (part 1 and part 2) Nancy Silverton – the contributing baker and driving force behind the La Brea Bakery - make these sticky buns for Julia Child.  See if you don’t end up wanting to run into the kitchen and bake.

These buns remind me of those I discovered in Illinois. Until researching this post I had no idea that sticky buns are considered a Philadelphia specialty.  And the buns in Philly are often credited to the Amish, who are also a substantial presence in East Central Illinois where I lived.

Before tasting Amish sticky buns, I was strongly repelled by anything resembling a cinnamon roll.  The first Cinabon opened in a mall where I worked in as a teenager in the eighties.  Imagine, that over-the-top cinnamon smell, now synonymouswith terrible food courts everywhere, was once a novelty, a relief from stale mall air. But the buns were much too sweet, too much cinnamon, not enough texture, and tasted artificial to me.  Too much like the mall itself. And about as far from a good sticky bun as you can get.

The length of these two recipes is daunting.  But with a heavy duty mixer and a cold kitchen counter, nothing is that far out of reach. My mixer did walk around the counter a bit while the brioche dough came together, but never came close to overheating.  It’s seventeen years old and going strong, if a little loud.

I was emotionally prepared for the dough to separate when I added the last round of butter – (thanks to Dorie) and oh, so relieved to have it comeback together with a lovely satin surface.

After that, the brioche rises and chills overnight, and then you are on to the sticky bun recipe. And you immediately add more butter. (Read Nina Planck’s Real Food. She’ll convince you that butter is the least of our problems.)  Personally, its the white flour that makes me twitch. But yeast pastry and whole wheat flour are usually a sad combination, and this recipe is both too expensive and too time consuming to risk failure.  And really, whole wheat brioche? I’d rather have the real thing, once or twice a year, in small portions. Nancy Silverton gets seven sticky buns from half a recipe for brioche dough.  I got 16.

I did replace half the butter in the glaze with maple syrup, and I used raw sugar, rather than brown – I melted the ingredients together, and then spread in the bottom of the pans, with the chopped pecans.  And I made my buns into an overnight version, letting the buns complete the last rise, slowly, over eight hours in the fridge.  The hardest part was withstanding the smell during the baking, and waiting till the glaze was cool enough to let us dig in safely.  We lasted for 30 very long minutes.

Be sure to check out the blog of my co-host, Nicole of Cookies on Friday, and the participating baker’s links.  If you are a baker, get a copy of Baking with Julia.  It’s both an education and a document of culinary history.   Today, Nancy Silverton is better known as a chef/restaurateur rather than as a baker– but her culinary roots reach back to pastry and to the California food revolution.

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39 responses to this post.

  1. Great post, I love your photos. I loved these buns, I only did half the recipe and it made 8 nice big buns!

    Reply

  2. Hi, thank you so much for hosting this 6-page long recipe! You did a great job!
    Unfortunately I did not like the gooey part of it (please forgive me!)
    I’ve “decimated” and replaced the butter and were still fine and I’ve used 1/2 all purpose flour and 1/2 spelt flour hoping to make them healthier.
    Best greetings from Switzerland

    Reply

  3. Thanks for hosting!!! I love your tweak with the maple syrup…YUM! Beautifully done~

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  4. maple sounds like a great addition

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  5. Absolutely beautiful! I sat this recipe out because I am so busy with end of school year stuff, but LOVE sticky buns – will have to go back and try it!!!

    Reply

  6. You reminded me of that mall smell back in the 80´s! So true. Your pictures came out great and thanks for hosting!

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  7. Lynn, these sticky buns look amazing. I’m enjoying them vicarously this week as I decided that after the shortbread cookies the family needed a break from the butter.

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  8. Yum, and interesting info. I didn’t know about the link to Philly either. Can’t wait to bake mine tonight!

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  9. Posted by thekitchenlioness on May 15, 2012 at 6:47 am

    Thank you Lynn for hosting this wonderful but rather lenghty recipe! The photos are great and I did enjoy reading your post – very nicely done! Enjoy the rest of the week!

    Reply

  10. Thanks for hosting!

    ~Carmen
    TWDBWJ member
    http://bakingismyzen.wordpress.com

    Reply

  11. Thanks for hosting this week! Your sticky buns look incredibly delicious! I really enjoyed these!

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  12. Thanks for hosting! I love the idea of using maple syrup. Ya’ll did better than my crew, we could only wait 15 minutes before we devoured our buns.

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  13. We live in PA Dutch country. This is also where my grandparents lived. I have fond memories of visiting here when I was a kid. My grandmother would take me to the farmers market to get a round of sticky buns. She would toast them up with melted butter for breakfast in the morning. I have always had a soft spot for sticky buns since then. Yours look nothing less than delicious.

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  14. Yummy, yummy! Yours looks beautiful! Thanks for hosting! I love the maple syrup idea, also.

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  15. Love these photos, I made the recipe as is and thought it was wonderful. Lots more work than my typical sticky -bun -overnight rolls I make at Christmas. The latter is made with scaled milk in the dough not a brioche base.

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  16. Oh I like your version. I thought of letting them rise overnight in the fridge and I really have no idea why I convinced myself that was a bad idea. Having grown up on sticky buns I’m amazed I never realized they were an Amish confection, I grew up in Amish land and returned for college as well! Thanks for the tid bit and for hosting! Very intrepid of you!

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  17. I totally agree with your mall-cinnabon-experience, and much prefer the labor-intensive hand-made variety. :) Your sticky buns look amazing!

    Thank you for hosting this week!

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  18. Labor-intensive indeed! But, oh! so worth the effort. Next time I’ll try your suggestion of maple syrup. Great photos…thanks for hosting!

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  19. Yum. Yours turned out way yummier looking than mine! Maybe because you used the maple syrup in the glaze so it actually glazed more? Mmmm. Thanks for hosting!

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  20. Great post! Thanks for putting in a good word for butter :)

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  21. Lynn,
    Thanks for hosting..yours turned out beautifully ..and love the extra pecans on top !

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  22. Great photos. Nancy Silverton’s one of my baking idols so I was really excited to try her recipe. It did not disappoint. Thanks for hosting and for the book recommendation.

    Reply

  23. Posted by Cakelaw on May 15, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    I didn’t know that sticky buns were a Philly specialty. Your buns look fab!

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  24. Thanks to everyone for the feedback. Hosting is a lot of fun!

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  25. Great photos and commentary. Thanks for hosting!

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  26. thank you so much for hosting! Your post was great- good information, photos were awesome. and I agree, butter is the least of our worries.

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  27. I’m totally going to read Real Food – with a blog name like mine I need all the ammo I can get supporting butter! Your sticky buns look delicious! Thanks for hosting this week!

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  28. I like your idea of using maple syrup and raw sugar in the topping. And letting them rise overnight in the refrigerator is a great idea. I also enjoyed your comments about Cinnabon and malls.

    Reply

  29. That’s a great idea to let the rise in the fridge for the last rise. I bet the maple syrup was delicious, they look to-die-for!

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  30. —Looking at these sins, I just gained 3 pounds! FabULOUS. WOWwww.

    Reply

  31. Nice job! Now that you mention Cinnabon, I can totally smell it! The little mini’s were ok, but just one mini was more than enough for me :-)

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  32. Posted by Teresa on May 17, 2012 at 6:10 pm

    I remember when Cinnabon was a novelty, too. These were much better and I agree with you, the occasional bit of buttery brioche isn’t going to hurt anyone.

    Thanks for hosting this week!

    Reply

  33. These look so good, love your changes of maple syrup and raw sugar! I’m confused though, doesn’t the host usually share the recipe?

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  34. What fabulous buns– your topping looks really delicious! I didn’t know that about Philly either. Thanks for a great job hosting this week..I love the handy recipe pdfs.

    Reply

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