We enjoy freshly home-baked sticky buns, hot from the oven on Christmas morning. Yes, this is the morning after we have hosted about 40 family members for Champagne, Crab Cakes, Gumbo, Profiteroles and Buche de Noel. And staying up late dancing, covering Santa Duty and doing stacks of dishes because no-one wants to wake up to a mess on Christmas morning. How do we find the time? We start two days ahead and use a deceptively simple no knead dough. I developed the Sticky Buns for my book Blue Eggs and Yellow Tomatoes, and have tweaked the timing slightly, so that I no longer have to do anything Christmas morning but preheat the oven and bake the buns. (Which is all I really in shape to do after the late night and merriment.) If you want to enjoy these treats on your holiday, be sure to start two days before you want to bake.
No Knead Pecan-Cinnamon Sticky Buns
These are tender, sticky, delicious and super easy to make. Don’t panic if the dough seems very soft and wet when initially mixed—it will firm up during the first proof.
Yield: 8 large buns
1/4 cup luke warm water
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
4 tablespoons (1 /2 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 cups milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
2 1/4 cups (about) unbleached all purpose flour
Filling and Topping
1 1/2 cups firmly packed golden brown sugar
1 1/2 cups pecans, toasted and chopped
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
For the dough: Combine the water and yeast in a large bowl and let stand until the yeast dissolves, about 5 minutes. Melt the butter over medium heat. Remove from heat and immediately stir in the cold milk. Add the luke warm butter mixture to the yeast mixture in the bowl. Whisk in the sugar and salt, then eggs. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the white whole-wheat flour. Stir in enough of the remaining flour to form a smooth but very sticky dough. Generously butter another large bowl. Using a rubber spatula, transfer the dough to prepared bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic and refrigerate the dough overnight.
For the filling and topping: Generously butter a 9x 13 baking pan or dish. Combine the brown sugar, pecans, cinnamon and salt in medium bowl. Add the butter and mix well. Remove dough from refrigerator. Using a rubber spatula, transfer the dough to a floured surface (do not punch down). Sprinkle the dough with flour and roll out to a 10 x 13-inch rectangle. Sprinkle the dough with 1 cup filling, leaving a 1/2-inch border on all sides. Beginning at one long side, roll up the dough, jellyroll style. Cut the dough crosswise in half, then cut each half into 4 even slices, making 8 buns.
Stir 2 tablespoons of warm water into the remaining pecan mixture; spread mixture evenly over the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Place the rounds, cut side down and evenly spaced atop the pecan mixture in the dish, a row of three, a row of two and a row of three (rounds will not cover pecan mixture completely).
Cover the dish loosely with plastic wrap. Let rise in warm draft-free area until the buns are puffed and have increased slightly in volume, about 1 hour OR cover carefully with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Position the rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 400ºF. If your buns were formed and refrigerated overnight, place them atop the oven while preheating, about 20 minutes. Bake the buns 10 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 375ºF. Bake until the buns are golden brown about 20 minutes. Immediately and carefully turn the buns out onto a parchment-lined baking pan and cool slightly. Serve warm.