Recipe: Flour’s Sticky Sticky Buns

You might already know this about me, but I like instant gratification. Especially when it comes to baked goods. That’s why cookies are one of my favorite things to bake. The batter tends to come together fairly quickly and a dozen are in and out of the oven in 15 minutes or less. That aligns perfectly with my attention span and seemingly endless desire for dessert.

You know what’s a real test of patience?

Waiting NINE HOURS for sticky buns. Most of this is inactive prep time, since the dough needs to proof twice before baking, so you won’t be slaving over the oven the entire time.

Toasting pecans

Toasting pecans

But, still. It’s a two day project.

Fortunately, at the end of this process you won’t have just any old sticky buns. These will be the famous Sticky Sticky Buns from Boston’s Flour Bakery.

Remember that every time you open the refrigerator during those first six hours of proofing time, and that pale ball of brioche dough taunts you with the knowledge that you’ll have to wait until sometime the following day to get your fix.

Brioche dough after proofing for six hours

Brioche dough after proofing for six hours

(However, the protracted prep time does make it a perfect project for a lazy, three day weekend, since it also allows for two hour naps during the process if you so desire. And, I did).

All rolled up

All rolled up

Ready for the oven after two more hours of proofing

Ready for the oven after two more hours of proofing

Friends, they are totally worth the wait. They are tender and chewy in all of the right places (particularly, in the center) and dripping in warm, caramel “goo” (yes, that’s the technical name for it) and toasted pecans.



Next time, I’ll be a little more liberal with the pecans and I’ll make some extra goo to drizzle over them before serving. Then, they’ll be exactly like what I remember from the shop. God bless Joanne Chang for making this recipe publicly available for the times when I just can’t make the trip to Boston and I really NEED a sticky bun.

This was the first recipe that I tried from the Flour cookbook and I’m looking forward to others. One of the things that I like best about this book is that are recipes are very detailed, with great descriptions of how the mixtures will look, feel and even sound as they make their way around the mixing bowl at various stages in the process. So, even if you are still working on your baking skills, you’ll feel a little bit more confident about taking on the more challenging recipes.

Flour’s Sticky Sticky Buns

From: Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery + Cafe

by Joanne Chang

What you will need:

For the brioche dough:

  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more if needed
  • 2 1/4 cups bread flour
  • 1 1/2 packages (3 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast or 1-ounce fresh cake yeast
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 3/8 cups (2 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 10 to 12 pieces.

For the goo:

  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

For the filling:

  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup pecan halves, toasted and chopped

What to do:

For the brioche dough:

Using a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the all-purpose flour, bread flour, yeast, sugar, salt, water, and 5 of the eggs. Beat on low speed for 3 to 4 minutes, or until all the ingredients are combined. Stop the mixer, as needed, to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure all the flour is incorporated into the wet ingredients. Once the dough has come together, beat on low speed for another 3 to 4 minutes. The dough will be very stiff and seem quite dry.

With the mixer on low speed, add the butter, 1 piece at a time, mixing after each addition until it disappears into the dough. Continue mixing on low speed for about 10 minutes, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. It is important for all the butter to be thoroughly mixed into the dough. If necessary, stop the mixer occasionally and break up the dough with your hands to help mix in the butter.

Once the butter is completely incorporated, turn up the speed to medium and beat until the dough becomes sticky, soft, and somewhat shiny, another 15 minutes. It will take some time to come together. It will look shaggy and questionable at the start and then eventually it will turn smooth and silky. Turn the speed to medium-high and beat for about 1 minute. You should hear the dough make a slap-slap-slap sound as it hits the sides of the bowl. Test the dough by pulling at it; it should stretch a bit and have a little give. If it seems wet and loose and more like a batter than a dough, add a few tablespoons of flour and mix until it comes together. If it breaks off into pieces when you pull at it, continue to mix on medium speed for another 2 to 3 minutes, or until it develops more strength and stretches when you grab it. It is ready when you can gather it all together and pick it up in 1 piece.

Put the dough in a large bowl or plastic container and cover it with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap directly onto the surface of the dough. Let the dough proof (that is, grow and develop flavor) in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or up to overnight At this point you can freeze the dough in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

For the goo:

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the brown sugar and cook, stirring, to combine (it may look separated, that’s ok). Remove from the heat and whisk in the honey, cream, water, and salt. Strain to remove any undissolved lumps of brown sugar. Let cool for about 30 minutes, or until cooled to room temperature. You should have about 3 cups. (The mixture can be made up to 2 weeks in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.)

Putting the buns together:

Divide the dough in half. Use half for this recipe and reserve the other half for another use.

On a floured work surface, roll out the brioche into rectangle about 12 by 16 inches and 1/4-inch thick. It will have the consistency of cold, damp Play-Doh and should be fairly easy to roll. Position the rectangle so a short side is facing you.

In a small bowl, make the filling. Stir together the brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, and half of the pecans. Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the entire surface of the dough. Starting from the short side farthest from you and working your way down, roll up the rectangle like a jelly roll. Try to roll tightly, so you have a nice round spiral. Trim off about 1/4- inch from each end of the roll to make them even.

Use a bench scraper or a chef’s knife to cut the roll into 8 equal pieces, each about 1 1/2-inches wide. (At this point, the unbaked buns can be tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for up to 1 week. When ready to bake, thaw them, still wrapped, in the refrigerator overnight or at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours, then proceed as directed.)

Pour the goo into a 9 by 13-inch baking dish, covering the bottom evenly. Sprinkle the remaining pecans evenly over the surface. Arrange the buns, evenly spaced, in the baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and put in a warm spot to proof until the dough is puffy, pillowy, and soft and the buns are touching-almost tripled in size, about 2 hours.

Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat to 350 degrees F.

Bake until golden brown, about 35 to 45 minutes. Let cool in the dish on a wire rack for 20 to 30 minutes. One at a time, invert the buns onto a serving platter, and spoon any extra goo and pecans from the bottom of the dish over the top.

The buns are best served warm or within 4 hours of baking. They can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 day, and then warmed in a 325 degree F oven for 10 to 12 minutes before serving.


  1. Comments may make you happy, but these rolls are seriously making me happy even just staring at them! I always forget that you have to let them rise (the multiple rise thing *really* tests my patience, I don’t know how you waited 6 hours!). These are definitely bookmarked for a weekend project!

    • They are totally worth the wait! The nice thing is that the brioche recipe makes enough for two batches. So, at least you can freeze half and bypass the 6 hour rise for the next time around.

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