P & Q: Pecan Sticky Buns

This one looks a little intimidating to me.  Help!

111 thoughts on “P & Q: Pecan Sticky Buns

  1. for the record, I made the brioche dough without a mixer. I made it slightly less buttery, with lots of rests when it got too annoying to knead. but it CAN be done, especially with a granite/marble counter and a very good dough scraper (read, one that cost less than a dollar)

  2. I’ve had my KA stand mixer for 7+ years and for the first time I really thought it was tested to its limit when it was mixing the brioche dough for as long as the recipe states. Luckily it survived with flying colors!

    The brioche dough itself was really fantastic – so pliable and easy to work with. I love working with laminated doughs. I made the recipe up to the point where you freeze the filled and rolled dough prior to baking. I’m leaving it in the freezer and will finish baking one roll this coming weekend.

    I found that the cinnamon/sugar recipe for the filling wasn’t nearly enough to sprinkle over both portions of dough. I ended up doubling it…I love cinnamon/sugar! Next time I think I’m going to toast the pecans before chopping and using them in the filling. For sure I’m going to toast the pecans for the topping. I’ll chop them as well instead of leaving them whole.

    Still debating whether or not I should stick with the BWJ recipe for the topping (butter, brown sugar, pecas) or use one from Flour Bakery in Boston because it also uses honey and heavy cream.

  3. I baked this over the Labour day holiday we just had. Did it by hand and it was not too bad – sort of followed Peter Reinhart’s method for making brioche by hand. One thing I found was that I had a lot of additional flour to the recipe – am sure I added something like half to 3/4 cup more. Not sure whether it was because of the extreme humidity that the equator has been facing.
    Reduced the butter a little when laminating the dough and reduced the butter for coating the buns but apart from that sort of kept to the recipe.Agree that the cinnamon sugar filling could have been increased a little.

      • Oh thank heavens, I did the same my dough was so sticky! But then it seemed to get a little weird and dried out in the fridge (despite the plastic wrap) and kind of separated a little. I’m finishing the recipe tonight; fingers crossed it comes out alright!

  4. These 2 youtube videos gave me the possibility to see “them” live.

    Part 1 (the brioche)

    Part 2 (the buns)

    Mine are now resting in the freezer.
    I hope I did not mess it up too much as I reduced the butter where I hoped it’d be possible…
    They won’t definitely be the same as Julia’s but I hope that they’ll still be tasty.

    Good luck everybody. Enjoy it!

  5. Thanks for posting the videos…it’s helpful to see the technique. I’m deciding whether to make half the recipe, or make the full amount and freeze half for later. I’ll definitely add more cinnamon – 1/4 tsp. per pan is too skimpy.

  6. Thanks for posting the videos. I also plan on decreasing the butter, some from the brioche dough and some from the lamination. I’ll be using leftover cinnamon/sugar/nuts from the rugelach, so it won’t be purely pecans. I’m sure we’ll survive!

  7. RE testing the limits of the stand mixer:

    I have 2 KA mixers, one is about 20 years old, the other about 5. There is no way I’d make this dough in the newer mixer – it just can’t compare to my older one which is much more sturdy.

    • My 5-year-old KA mixer had no problems with this dough. It got warm, for sure, and wanted to walk around on the counter, but it worked like a champ.

    • Hi Carmen – I have JC’s The Way to Cook cookbook, and she makes her brioche dough in a food processer, and doesn’t process it as long. That’s what I plan to do (no stand mixer in my house). Shoot me an e-mail to remind me, and I’ll try to scan and send the recipe/technique.

      Anyone else as well – werled@hotmail.com

      • Diane, you’re the best! Many thanks. :)

        IF I bake this go round, I’ll make one batch of the Brioche recipe and make:

        >> 1/2 of the Sticky Buns recipe
        >>Brioche Tart with White Secret Sauce (which calls for 1/2 brioche recipe)

        I’ve made Sticky Pecan Buns once in a pastry class. It was so good…


    • Carmen, I´m sending you an email with a food processor recipe I made once. It´s good.
      Hope you make them, I loved them!

  8. Has anyone tried it with hand mixer? I don’t have a stand mixer, and I wonder if it is doable with hand mixer if I half the recipe.. That is what I did with the white bread..


    • Do you have a bread machine? That might be a better option than trying to make the brioche dough with a hand mixer. The recipe states the dough should knead in a stand mixer on medium speed for a full 15 minutes – my hand mixer wouldn’t be able to handle that.

      • Thanks.. No bread machine either.. I will give the hand mixer a try, it will not be easy to hold it for 15 mins even if the mixer survives.. If it dies, it will be a good reason to get a stand one :)

      • Well then, I’m pulling for your hand mixer to die. My baking went to the next level after I got my first stand mixer.

    • I would be very much afraid to use a stand mixer. I’d do it by hand before using a mixer. You’ll get a workout, but at least your mixer will be alive the next time you need it.

      • I agree here… hand mixers are not designed for this kind of mixing. Leave the hand mixer for your whipped creams and cookie doughs, and do this one by hand if you don’t have a hand mixer!!!

    • I have not used this particular technique that is described in making the brioche, however I could share with you what my grandmother used to do. She would melt the butter and bring it to room temperature. Then she would deep her hands in the butter and knead the dough until the butter is absorbed, and then again and again. I sounds that it might take a looooong time, but that was not the case. I have tried it and it works. Yes, my grandmother did not have a mixer :)

  9. Honestly, I wouldn’t try this with a hand mixer. It’s just not strong enough to work the dough. My KA professional needs 15 minutes to knead this. A hand mixer needs twice that. I would make a smaller batch and try it by hand.

    • Jules.. I did it by hand.. half the recipe.. in the fridge right now.. honestly.. wasnt too bad.. did it most by hand.. took longer though.. but not as much as I had dreaded it.. now will have to wait tomorrow when i bake them to know if all went ok!!

  10. I have made cinnamon buns a few times using the Pioneer Woman recipe and talk about butter! They rocked but I am also worried about my mixer. I may need a tune up for the mixer before attempting this one.

  11. Is anyone going to skip the laminating part? I’m tempted to do this as I don’t have the heart to add 6 more ounces of butter to these buns! The butter that’s going to be used for the dough as well as the filling is already too much for my heart to take LOL

    • Don’t skip the laminating part as it will give you wonderful layers of dough like a croissant! I made these just as the recipe said, used my KA stand mixer, and the topping as stated. I thought the balance was just right. If there had been more filling or stronger nuts it would have overpowered the marvelous taste of the dough–which is what I think this recipe is about.

      We baked these along side of the recipe on the cover of Bon Appetit which had a simpler dough (no layers) and a honey-cream glaze with toasted nuts and there was simply no comparison! For flavor as well as texture, the Baking with Julia pecan sticky buns were the best!

      • I agree.. just follow the recipe to the last instructions.. i know it feels a bit too much butter.. but face it.. this is not everyday baking.. make it once .. go the whole way.. and when its all done.. you will really be rewarded.. these were simply amazing.. and i made the dough by hand!!

    • The same here.. I am thinking of halving the butter at the laminating part and halving the one smeared to the pan.. I will decide on the day I bake it..

    • I think the laminating part is essential here! Otherwise they´re just regular rolls. These turned out like filled croissants. Heaven!

  12. Since my small new kitchen is streamlined and only one appliance is out, has anyone tried this with a Cuisinart food processor?


    Maybe it was a kind of “blasphemy” but I did the following:
    took 90 gr of soft butter and mixed it with 80 gr creme fraiche. Mixed well and put back into the fridge. When it hardened a bit I used it as “laminator”.
    The dough structure was perfect.
    What I’ve missed: some salt and some sugar in the dough. It was kind of “fade” but I don’t think that the “laminator trick” was to blame.

    Anybody else missing salt or sugar in the dough?

    PS: And for the bottom of the pan I did the same: butter & creme fraiche!
    PPS: For the brioche dough I’ve used 60 gr butter and 110 gr yoghurt
    TEXTURE PERFECT (for me!)

    PPS: All in all I did not like them. Probably because I am not a fans of sticky buttery baking. I’ve tried once the Monkey Bread but I did not like him .

    OK, NOW THAT ALL MY TRICKS WERE REVELED, I hope you’ll still come to visit my blog :-)

  14. I made the brioche dough this morning/early afternoon. I think I might wait until tomorrow to do the sticky buns. And I plan on freezing one dough log to have later (with only 4 of us in the house, we definitely don’t need 14 buns!).

    The dough definitely heated my KA mixer, but it worked great. And I didn’t (and wouldn’t) skimp on the butter. This is not an everday treat. But if you’re going to go through the effort to make them, they should be over the top.

    One thing about the brioche recipe that I don’t agree with: there is no way the dough is still going to be cool to the touch after 20 minutes of hard mixing. But it was a great texture and rose beautifully in 2 hours.

  15. If you do not have a heavy duty mixer you can make brioche dough in a large food processor. In “The Way to Cook” by Julia Child there is a recipe on page 48 that I have made in my 14 cup Magimix food processor. The proportions seem similar to Nancy’s recipe.

    • I would think a food processor would work just fine…I have a dough setting on my Cuisinart. The mixer or food processor is going to be a lot easier…but people have been kneading their brioche dough for years by hand. It just gets very tiring because you have to knead it so long.
      I’m going to be stressing out my kitchenaid! I’ve made brioche in it before and it definitely was feeling it’s age…just like me…lol!
      I found Julia’s old show on ‘you tube’ (that someone already posted to this site). It was a big help to see the techniques being used!

  16. Does anybody have experience with freezing the brioche dough after the second rise? Any tips? Do you think it would be better to freeze the dough and then continue on with the recipe for the sticky buns or freeze the logs with the filling?

      • The rolls probably shouldn’t go direct from freezer to oven. They need a certain amount of rise time once in the pan, and the dough needs to be thawed before the clock starts on that rise.

        So, from the freezer, let the rolled up dough thaw just enough to be able to easily slice the rolls. Place the slices in the prepared pan (butter, sugar, etc.). Cover that with plastic wrap, and let them thaw completely, in the refrigerator (overnight-ish), or at room temperature.

        Then make sure to give them their full rising time at warm-ish room temperature. Finally bake them as directed.

      • Thank you! I ended up freezing the brioche dough, did not have time to get to making the logs. I like your idea, though, to defrost the logs slightly to allow cutting and to thaw them completely in the prepared pan.

    • Brioche dough freezes beautifully. I always make a big batch and freeze half. Just defrost it first in the fridge (the best way is not to go from one extreme temperature to another) overnight and then at room tº, but be careful this is very buttery so you want to start working with it while it´s still cold. Don´t bring it completely to room tº because you´ll have a buttery mess!

      • Brioche dough will keep frozen for a month for sure. Me, I would freeze it for two or three if I needed to… but that´s me, jaja
        The problem is how much does it affect the yeast potency. So after a month try to use it so you don´t run the risk of not leavening.

  17. Traveling right now in the Airstream- will miss my cooking. This sounds incredible- is the brioche not like Dorie’s version in FFWD?

    • No, this dough is completely differrent than the FFwD version. A lot more work, but I’m not sure it was much better. In fact, having made the brioche recipe in BWJ, I will use a different recipe the next time we come to a brioche-based TWD recipe.

  18. I found this dough easy to work with – My mixer did try to take a walk, but once chilled it was simple to roll out, and roll up, which were the parts I was worried about!

  19. I find it difficult to believe that this quantity of dough will make 2 trays of sticky buns? I ended up adding about 1 cup of additional flour, the dough just seemed so sticky to me.

  20. rolled up the loaf of sticky buns and baked the remainder of the dough. I made the challah last week and the recipes are very similar, but with different techniques. I must say that the challah recipe is the winner in my book. and I’d use it to make sticky buns in the future. I’m sure these will be delicious, but I much prefer the bread-making technique from the challah recipe

  21. I’m headed to my parents house this weekend to bake these sticky buns – with my mom and her trusty Kitchen Aid mixer. We’re planning on not doing anything else since it seems like it’ll take so long!
    I wanted to share this with you all, too. I wrote about our plans (and about us baking together virtually) in a special Mother’s Day story for my newspaper – http://blogs.fredericksburg.com/features/2012/05/09/mom-and-daughter-bond-through-baking/

      • I just received a reply from Kitchen Aid regarding using a KA Artisan to make brioche. This is what they said: We recommend to use speed 2. For heavy loads (bread dough, pasta, and cookie dough) that use a slow speed, 10 minutes is probably the maximum. When kneading bread dough, we suggest running the unit no longer than 4 – 6 minutes. Typically, the dough is processed well before that. For lighter loads (cake batters, whipping cream) that use a faster speed (6 – 10), the running time is more like 15 – 20 minutes although the load will be processed well before that.

    • You can prepare the pan with butter, sugar, etc. the night before, then place the sliced rolls in it. Cover them with plastic wrap to keep them from drying out / forming a skin (which will inhibit rise), and refrigerate until morning. Take them out about an hour before baking to complete their rise.

      Not sure when you want these for breakfast, but you should be able to sleep a little later than 5 am ;)

  22. I’m afraid I have to opt out of this weeks recipe. It looks completely delicious and someday I’ll try it. However, I just started Weight Watchers and I don’t want to completely foil the progress I’ve made by having these little lovelies calling my name.
    I’ll look forward to participating in the recipes for June. Maybe those will be ones where I can give large portions away and won’t take me all day to make. BTW, LOVE the video with Julia on this one! Thanks for posting that!!!

    • I don’t blame you. I’m opting out too. They are too decadent for me! I too will be reading the posts, but I’ll be a wallflower for this one. I’m hoping for some savory choices for June!

  23. I made the brioche dough ahead of time and froze the filled logs. Now that I want to bake the buns I’m finding that the dough is taking for ever to proof. They are no where near the size from the video.

    Anyone else have this issue?

    • I froze my logs last night and took them out this morning to thaw, cut, and rise again. The buns did not touch each other at the end of the 2 hours rise time…no where close. But they did touch after baking, so everything worked out fine.

    • The last time we made brioche dough with FFWD; I ended up freezing half of mine for later. I do remember being disappointed when I thawed it & set it out to rise- it just did not rise properly (even though I gave it adequate time). It was beautiful when I first prepared it, so ????

  24. I am sorry I am going to have to skip this one! Too much going on this weekend. Maybe I can catch up on our extra Tuesday. I was looking forward to this one, too.

  25. I’m afraid I’m going to have to save these for our catch-up week this month. Too much going on this weekend and I need a break from all this butter! I am really looking forward to making the brioche dough. My plan is to use half the dough for the pecan sticky buns and make the Savory Brioche Pockets with the other half. Can’t wait to see everyone’s results.

  26. Have you ever heard Garth Brooks song “The Dance”? If he hadn’t experienced the pain, he would have missed the dance… That is how I feel about Brioche and Pecan Sticky Buns. I wasn’t going to do it. Too much work, too much time. I already have a good cinnamon roll recipe…. But– I took the time, did the pain, and today I experienced the dance! Oh my gosh! These are the most delicately layered, buttery, perfect tasting caramel rolls I have EVER eaten … and my friends, I have eaten A LOT of rolls in my life :)

    FYI- I made the two log rolls and froze them last night. This morning I prepared one pan with the butter and brown sugar. I cut the frozen rolls at 8 a.m. At 2 p.m. they were perfectly thawed and raised. I baked them for 30 minutes and they are amazing.

    In the future … I will keep a log roll in the freezer, prepare them the night before I want to serve, raise them for 7 or 8 hours overnight and bake in the morning. Tada … Pecan Sticky Buns for breakfast.

    Gotta run … got some bloggin’ to do! Nice baking with all of you!

  27. 5 sticks of butter… roughly 32 grams of fat and 290 calories from the butter alone. Brought them to church. Somebody said, “Oh, I’ve made this before. Monkey Bread.” I about died. 3 days, so much rolling and a ridiculous amount of butter and it is no different than monkey bread, which goes together in minutes? UGH! they were good, but would never make again.

  28. It took 24 hours to get the sliced brioche dough to proof enough to fill the cake pan after the dough had been in the freezer for a week. The brioche tasted great but I found the caramel topping disappointing.

    After baking in the oven for about 40 minutes I ended up with a puddle of melted butter at the bottom of my pan. I didn’t get the thick, gooey caramel topping I was after, more like a separated sauce. Next time I think I’m going to decrease the amount of butter used and and melt it with dark brown sugar in a saucepan (and maybe heavy cream) before pouring it on the bottom of the cake pan.

    This recipe wasn’t a home run for me…more of a work in progress.

    • I had the same problem with the sauce getting all separated and the butter sloshed all over my counters and floor. I wonder why it worked for some people but not others??

  29. I finished these yesterday (started on Saturday). The brioche was delicious so light and lovely layers, and my sauce was nice too however this recipe was a lot of work and they weren’t so good that I’d spend 2 days making them again! Glad I tried them though.
    I am a weight watcher too and so only one for me, I have guesstimated them at 10 points each!

  30. All, will be sitting this one out…will stop by some of the blogs to see the creations. When I buy a new mixer, I’ll make these…

    Hope all the moms had a wonderful Mother’s Day! :)


  31. I’m on the fence about making this one. On the one hand, this recipe sounds pretty labor intensive and I’m struggling with time. On the other hand, various comments from the group make me want to give it a try.

  32. My mom’s comment was that this was THE BEST recipe we’ve made so far in this book, despite the amount of time (really not that much active work time though) and the amount of butter. Everyone at our house was a fan.

  33. I made these yesterday/this morning. I loved “tending” the dough all day. My only disappointment was I really thought there’d be more glaze. However, my folks at work loved these. And my hubby’s folks at work loved these. We came with one and are splitting it for tonight’s dessert! YUM!!!!

  34. Almost skipped this one, but made it today. It took all day. (started at 9:00am and just pulled them out of the oven at 9:20.) Boy, they were worth it! Super recipe. Worth every tablespoon of butter.

  35. I made the dough Saturday, refrigerated it overnight, then let it come almost to room temp on Sunday before I formed the rolls. A lot of the time it took was rise time, and the “holy moly, does it still need more kneading?!” time in the food processor.

    My Cusinart food processor worked like a champ. I actually used the brioche recipe from JC’s The Way to Cook, but finished the rolls using the BWJ recipe rather than the one in TWTC. Loved, loved, loved the results. Enough to consider experimenting again with brioche-based treats…maybe every six months or so!

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