“That’s just my luck. I only like guys with girlfriends or guys who are obsessed with my friends. Whaaaat’s wrrrrrong with me? Am I that bad? Am I that unlikable?”
“Maybe it’s too early for a fancy date? I’m so used to sharing food with [my friend] that it’s all I want to do. I can’t do that on a first date. That would be so weird.”
“Do you want to go out with me?,” he says as a joke, but maybe it’s what she has wanted all along. “I’ll just go on dates with my friends.”
Lately, whichever table I choose at restaurants or coffee shops seems to be a MAGNATE for young drama. From my perch high atop early thirties hibernation hill, all I want to say is, “You’re all going to be FINE! Your twenties are meant to be a volatile cocktail of restlessness, heartbreak and romantic desperation. You’ll get through it.” Then, if you’re lucky, there’ll be pajamas for days, champagne and fresh baked cinnamon rolls with the one you love, but you gotta earn your passage.”
I baked these golden sugar swirls for Christmas morning. There’s something about the quieter winter months that enable me to tackle the time commitment of rising dough, kneading and rising some more. Yeast breads and baked goods were a New Year’s tradition in my family. The way a bubbling liquid grows to fill an entire bowl feels symbolic of a fresh start and forms a comforting blanket against the winter grays. Just the smell of dough takes me back to my mom’s kitchen.
From childhood tradition, straight to adulthood hibernation, sticky buns are a staple that magically bypass the dramas of those confusing, self-absorbed early 20s (as everyone should). If you’re already in the clear (ie: your thirties), bake some this weekend, and relish the perspective you have gained (while your 40+ friends laugh at your naiveté). If you’re still stuck, like pecans to a cinnamon-sugar topping, in that sinkhole of twenties love and desperation, remember…
You’re all going to be just fine!
The Ultimate Sticky Buns
Recipe adapted from Bon Appétit
Makes 9 Servings
About this Recipe: Just a few swaps from the original recipe to make these a tad more wholesome- vanilla coconut sugar and white whole wheat flour. The coconut sugar gave the dough a dark, amber tone. The original recipe specifies not to have the rolls touching when they bake. I was short a pan, so I used a skillet and crammed them in. This yielded a cakier bun, so I recommend following the original instructions, which are included below.
2/3 cup organic whole milk
5 Tablespoons vanilla coconut sugar, divided
1- 3/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (from one ¼-ounce envelope)
2 large eggs, room temperature (organic/cage-free)
2 3/4 cups white whole wheat flour (such as King Arthur)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) organic unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces, room temperature, plus ½ tablespoon, melted
1 3/4 cups chopped pecans (about 8 ounces)
1/2 cup (1 stick) organic unsalted butter
3/4 cup (packed) organic dark brown sugar
3/4 cup organic heavy cream
1/3 cup local honey
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon finely grated orange zest (optional)
1/2 cup (1 stick) organic unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup (packed) vanilla coconut sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
White whole wheat or all-purpose flour (for dusting)
1 large egg (organic/cage-free)
Coarse sea salt
For the Dough
Heat milk in a small saucepan over medium until an instant-read thermometer registers 110°–115°.
Transfer milk to a 2-cup measuring cup; stir in 1 Tablespoon coconut sugar.
Sprinkle yeast over milk and whisk to blend. Let sit until yeast is foamy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs; whisk until smooth.
Combine flour, salt, and remaining 4 Tablespoons coconut sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add milk mixture. With mixer running, add 1/2 cup room-temperature butter, 1 piece at a time, blending well between additions. Mix on medium speed 1 minute. Knead on medium-high speed until dough is soft and silky, about 5 minutes.
Brush a medium bowl with about 1 teaspoon melted butter; place dough in bowl. Brush top of dough with remaining melted butter; cover with plastic wrap. Let dough rise in a warm, draft-free area until doubled in size, 1–1½ hours.
Chill dough 2 hours.
Do Ahead: Dough, before first rise, can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with plastic; chill. Let rise in a warm, draft-free area until doubled in size, 2–2½ hours.
For the Topping
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread nuts on a rimmed baking sheet. Toast until fragrant and slightly darkened, 10–12 minutes. Let cool completely. Set 1 1/4 cups nuts aside for buns.
Melt butter in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat. Stir in brown sugar, cream, honey, salt, and orange zest. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer until glaze is golden brown and glossy, 3–4 minutes.
Pour 1 cup glaze into baking pan, tilting to coat bottom and sides. Set aside remaining glaze. Sprinkle 1/2 cup toasted pecans over bottom of baking pan and let cool.
For the Buns
Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and kosher salt in a medium bowl until light and fluffy, 2–3 minutes. Set filling aside.
Roll out dough on a lightly floured work surface into a 12×16″ rectangle about 1/4″ thick. Arrange dough on work surface so 1 long side faces you. Spread cinnamon-sugar mixture over dough, leaving a 1″ border on the side farthest from you.
Sprinkle 3/4 cup chopped pecans over cinnamon-sugar mixture. Beginning with the long edge closest to you, roll dough into a log, tightening as you roll and patting in ends if they begin to taper. Pinch together the seam where the long side meets the roll to seal. Arrange log seam side down.
Using a large knife, cut log crosswise into 9 pieces (lightly flour knife between slices if dough is too sticky). Turn buns cut side up and gently pat top to flatten slightly. If needed, reshape to form round edges by cupping lightly floured hands around each bun and gently pushing and turning them in a circular motion. Transfer buns to prepared pan, spacing evenly apart (buns should not touch each other).
Loosely cover pan with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel. Let buns rise in a warm, draft-free area until doubled in size, 45 minutes–1 hour, or 1 1/2–2 hours if dough has been chilled overnight.
Arrange a rack in middle of oven; preheat to 350°F.
Whisk egg with ½ tsp. water in a small bowl. Brush tops of buns with egg wash.
Bake, rotating pan halfway through and tenting with foil if browning too quickly, until buns are golden brown, filling is bubbling, and an instant-read thermometer inserted into center of buns registers 185°, about 50 minutes.
Let cool 5 minutes. Spoon remaining glaze over.
Sprinkle 1/2 cup pecans over. Let cool in pan on a wire rack.
Lightly sprinkle sea salt over. Serve buns warm or at room temperature.