Call them caramel rolls or sticky buns, or just call them delicious.
Sticky buns. Caramel rolls. Whatever you want to call cinnamon rolls covered in buttery caramel deliciousness, is fine by me. Just give me one. Preferably warm from the oven with all that caramel dripping down the sides of each delicious bite.
I’m a fan of pretty much anything involving cinnamon, sugar, butter and bread. I mean, isn’t everyone? A thick slice of freshly toasted bread slathered with butter and sprinkled generously with cinnamon sugar is pretty hard to beat.
Warm from the oven cinnamon rolls dripping with cream cheese icing on a lazy Sunday morning always sounds like a great idea. Occasionally swapping out the cinnamon roll icing for buttery caramelized brown sugar glaze and chopped nuts? Hell, yeah.
Apparently, the delicious pastry we know as sticky buns was brought to us by German immigrants, god bless ’em.
My Great Grandparents were German immigrants, which might help to explain why we were all obsessed with sticky buns in my family growing up. My mom and Grandma would make them on special occasions and we all oooh’d and ahhh’d and then mmmmm’d with bites of tender, sweet, caramel dough in our mouths.
Just like my overnight cinnamon roll recipe, these sticky buns start with my absolute favorite dinner roll dough. After all, sticky buns are simply bread dough wrapped around cinnamon sugar and topped with caramel. It goes without saying that a great sticky bun requires delicious bread and luscious caramel. And yet, I’m saying it.
Around my house, whenever someone mentions, those rolls, we all know what they’re talking about these dinner rolls.
They are buttery, soft, tender, and slightly sweet. We love them. A few years ago, it occurred to me that if the dough made great dinner rolls, it would most certainly make great cinnamon rolls as well. I know… Duh.
Then, a couple of months ago, I used the same dough to make overnight homemade doughnuts, glazed, frosted and stuffed with pastry cream. Soooooo good.
And now, this amazing dough has reinvented itself again into sticky buns. It’s a personal growth type of dough where each version of itself gets better than the one before. What, oh what, will it become next? I’m giddy with anticipation.
Sticky bun recipe notes:
Some sticky bun recipes call for corn syrup in the caramel glaze, some do not. This one does. Caramel has a tendency to burn and crystalize easily and the corn syrup helps to prevent both.
I know corn syrup is not good for us, and something we should generally stay away from. But, come on. Sticky buns are not exactly health food. They aren’t something you want to eat for breakfast every day. Well, you might want to eat them for breakfast every day. But that doesn’t mean you should.
Sticky Buns are a once in a while treat. I tend to subscribe to the idea that most of the time I should feed my body healthy food consisting of mostly things that grow in the ground and some protein. But there has to be room for indulgence.
We can’t be super responsible all the time. Well, I can’t at least. I suspect you can’t either, since you are currently reading about sticky buns. So, add the corn syrup and enjoy your sticky bun guilt free. There’s salad in your future either way and you know it.
It’s really, REALLY important that you put some foil or a baking sheet underneath the pan while these sticky buns are baking.
I cannot stress this enough, especially since right now I am typing this within a house that smells like burnt sugar. Do not let this happen to you, my friend. You do NOT want your house to smell like burnt sugar. Trust me.
There is a very good chance that some of the caramel will bubble up and spill out all over your oven. Save yourself the hassle and put something under the pan of sticky buns.
It’s a little tricky to know when these sticky buns are baked through.
The dough contains a decent amount of butter. Plus, I like to brush the tops with even more butter before baking. This will cause the rolls to brown to a deep golden color. You will think, just by looking at them, that they are done. But, just because the tops look done doesn’t mean that the buns are baked all the way through.
The only way to tell for sure, is to pull them out of the oven after 40 minutes and cut into the center. If it looks doughy in there, keep baking. If you are concerned that the rolls are browning too much, just lay a piece of foil loosely over the top.
Sticky buns are best when they are fresh from the oven.
It’s not that they are bad later in the day or the next day… just not nearly as good. Since I want to eat sticky buns in the morning, this recipe instructs you to let them rise overnight, pulling them from the refrigerator to bake the next morning. But, if you’d rather make and bake them all in the same day, just let them rise at room temperature for about an hour before baking.
Used to make this sticky bun recipe:
A few other sweet bread treats you might like:
- Chocolate Almond Babka
- Overnight Homemade Cinnamon Rolls
- Old Fashioned Banana Bread
- Overnight Homemade Doughnuts
Sticky buns. Caramel rolls. Whatever you want to call cinnamon rolls covered in buttery caramel deliciousness, is fine by me. Just give me one.
FOR THE STICKY BUN DOUGH
- 2 cups whole milk, at room temperature, between 70 and 75 degrees
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 3½ tsp active dry yeast
- 1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk, slightly beaten
- 6 tbsp butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
- 6 cups unbleached, all purpose flour
- 2 tsp salt
FOR THE CARAMEL GLAZE:
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 lb (2 sticks) salted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup chopped roasted almonds, or any other nut you like (optional)
FOR THE CINNAMON SUGAR FILLING:
- 7 tbsp salted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 3 tbsp ground cinnamon
MAKE THE DOUGH:
- Pour the milk into the bowl of a standing mixer, and add the sugar and yeast. Stir to combine and then let sit for about 5 minutes to let the yeast begin to come alive. Whisk in the egg, egg yolk and melted butter.
- Fit a standing mixer with the dough hook and add 5 cups of the all-purpose flour. Mix on low speed (speed number 2 if using a KitchenAid mixer) until the dough begins to come together.
- Continue kneading, adding enough additional flour so that the dough comes together into a soft, slightly sticky ball. Depending on the humidity in the air, this might take the entire remaining cup of flour, or only a bit of it. What you’re looking for is a soft, smooth ball of dough that clings to the dough hook, does not stick to the sides of the bowl, but does stick slightly to the bottom of the bowl. If you stop the mixer and touch the dough, it should feel a bit sticky, but not so wet as to be confused with cookie dough.
- Once the dough has come together, sprinkle in the salt. Continue to knead in the mixer for about 8-10 minutes. The dough should look very soft and smooth.
- Spray a large bowl with non-stick cooking spray and dump the dough into the bowl. Spray a piece of plastic wrap with non-stick spray and use it to cover the bowl. Let the dough rise at room temperature for 1-2 hours, until the dough has doubled in size.
MAKE THE CARAMEL GLAZE:
- Add both sugars, salt, and butter to the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat for 2 minutes on high speed, stopping once to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Pour in the corn syrup and the vanilla, and beat for an additional 5 minutes, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl from time to time, until the mixture is light and fluffy.
FILL, ASSEMBLE AND BAKE THE STICKY BUNS:
- Spread the caramel glaze evenly on the bottom of a 13×9 inch baking dish and sprinkle with chopped almonds.
- Stir the ½ cup sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl and set aside.
- Gently turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and roll it into a rectangle that is about 18 inches wide and 12 inches long. Spread all but about 1 tablespoon of the melted butter evenly over the surface of the dough with a pastry brush or spoon. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar evenly over the butter.
- Roll the dough into a long, cigar shaped roll. With the seam side down, cut the roll into 12 even pieces. Place each piece on top of the caramel glaze in the baking dish, spacing them evenly. Brush the tops of the buns with the remaining melted butter, cover with plastic wrap, and put in the refrigerator to rise overnight. (If you’d like to just keep going and bake the sticky buns the same day, simply let them rise in the covered baking dish at room temperature for about 1 hour, until nearly doubled in size, before baking.)
- The next morning, remove the pan from the refrigerator and let the sticky buns sit at room temperature for 60 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Remove the plastic wrap and bake the buns for about 45-50 minutes. (As mentioned in the recipe notes, it’s a good idea to place a sheet of aluminum foil or a baking sheet underneath the pan of rolls to catch drips just in case the caramel bubbles over while the bake.) Check the rolls after 30 minutes and cover loosely with a sheet of aluminum foil if the tops are getting too brown. To test if the sticky buns are done in the center, pull the pan from the oven and use a butter knife to gently separate a couple of the buns in the center of the pan. If the buns still look doughy, bake for a bit longer.
- Remove the pan from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes before carefully inverting the rolls out onto another pan. Let cool for 20 minutes and serve.
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