Pumpkin Pecan Sticky Buns & Random Acts of Tastiness

Pumpkin Pecan Sticky Buns, 1/6
Pumpkin Pecan Sticky Buns – recipe in post

I love random acts of kindness. Doing little things, out of the blue, and asking for nothing in return. Whether it be for friends or family, like warming up your spouses towel in the dryer while they shower, or brushing the snow off a neighbors car in the morning… or for complete strangers, like leaving change at a phone booth or bus stop, or giving a personal thank-you note to your waitress or mailman. Small gestures that can make a big difference in somebody’s day.

Pumpkin Pecan Sticky Buns, 4/6Pumpkin Pecan Sticky Buns, 3/6

Over the last weekend, I had my heart set on making my favorite Sticky Pecan Cinnamon Buns, with a twist of fall flavor. It goes without saying that these are now my new favorite sticky buns. Warm, gooey, and full of pumpkin goodness… I loved them so much, there no way I could keep them all to myself! Okay, I’ll admit, the temptation was strong… but I just had to share them.

My day started bright and early, rolling the buns and letting the dough rise. I added lots of freshly-made pumpkin puree, and a triple dose of Cinnamon and spices.

Sticky Bun Brioche Dough

I swear I hovered around the kitchen watching the timer count down every minute for these to be done. Letting them rest in the pan was the longest fifteen minutes of my life. Finally, though, my patience was rewarded!

Pumpkin Pecan Sticky Buns, 2/6

My first “random act of kindness” was waking The Fiancé up to the smell of fresh coffee and sticky buns. Ladies, if you’re looking for a way to put a smile on your man’s face, look no further. Nothing says ‘I love you’ like warm, pull-apart spirals of gooey goodness.

Next, I took some to our neighbors, as a thank-you for some help they’d given us a while back. A well deserved reward for their kindness!

Then we headed out to the Zingerman’s Coffee and Bake House – our usual Saturday morning routine. We weren’t coming in for our regular coffee and pastry, though… we came bearing tasty fall treats for our favorite  bakers and baristas! I wish I had a photo of the look on their faces, first surprised and then excited. The buns were still warm as they dug in, and before I knew it I was talking shop with the bakers about my recipe.

From there, we swung by some friend’s of ours, who were more than happy to polish of our goods. I have to say, as much as I enjoyed eating these sticky buns, I loved giving them away. The look on a persons face when you hand them a freshly-baked, dripping-with-goo, Pumpkin Pecan Sticky Bun… is kind of priceless.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Freshly Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

That wasn’t the end, though! Last, but certainly not least, I decided to make a surprise visit to The Mom. As much as she would have loved a sticky bun, I knew there was one thing she’d like even more – roasted pumpkin seeds. Having made my puree from the sugar pumpkins in our garden, I had a whole jar full of freshly roasted seeds. I adore these crunchy gems, and I know exactly where I got it from… her.

Let me just say, I’m not a big fan of getting up unnecessarily early on a weekend… but days like this are sheer perfection.

Pumpkin Pecan Sticky Buns, 6/6Pumpkin Pecan Sticky Buns, 5/6
Note: I know these sound intimidating to make, with a lot of steps to the process, but please trust me when I say they are 100% worth it! Make the dough the night before, and let the rolls rise the next morning. Pop them in the oven and they’ll be ready for brunch! For more step-by-step type photos, check out my original recipe for Sticky Pecan Cinnamon Buns.

Pumpkin Pecan Sticky Buns
Makes 12 rolls
Adapted from my Sticky Pecan Cinnamon Buns

The Dough
1/4 cup buttermilk, warmed (115f. – not boiling)
1 TBSP granulated sugar
2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast (or one packet)
4 large egg yolks
1 large egg
3 TBSP dark brown sugar

1 cup unsweetened pumpkin puree (make your own here)

1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. powdered ginger
1/8th tsp. cloves

6 TBSP unsalted butter, softened
4 cups all-purpose flour, separated (plus more for dusting)
1 1/4 tsp. sea salt

The Filling
1/4 cup (half stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 TBSP cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
3/4 cup brown sugar (light or dark)

The Caramel Sauce
1/2 cup (one stick) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups brown sugar, packed (light or dark)
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 TBSP brown rice syrup (or corn syrup)
1 TBSP cinnamon
1 TBSP vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans (or walnuts)


The Dough
1.   In a small bowl, warm the buttermilk – not hot, just warm. Add the granulated sugar and the yeast, and set aside for 10-15 minutes, or until the yeast has become frothy.
2.   In a large bowl, or the bowl of your stand mixer, beat together the egg/egg yolks and brown sugar. Whip them until they turn very thick, fluffy, and a pale toffee color.
Add in the pumpkin puree, spices and butter, and beat to combine. While mixing, pour in the buttermilk mixture.
3.   To the wet ingredients, add 2 cups of the flour and all of the salt. Mix until combined, then remove your beaters – it’s time to get your hands dirty. Add the rest of the flour and begin to mix/knead the dough by hand, until all of the flour is incorporated. The dough should be very soft, and slightly sticky. If it’s too sticky to work with, you can add more flour 1 TBSP at a time – but be careful not to add more than is needed.
Knead the dough for a good 4-5 minutes. It will be soft, elastic, and not very dry.
4.   Once the dough is kneaded, shape it into a ball and place in a lightly greased bowl. Dust the top lightly with flour, and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm place to rise for 2-3 hours, or until doubled in size. After the dough has rested, you can proceed with the recipe as follows or refrigerate the dough overnight, or up to a few days before using.

The Filling
1.   Using a fork, mash together the softened butter and spices. Measure the brown sugar into a separate bowl, and set aside.

The Goo
1.   In a small pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Add in the brown sugar and syrups, and cook until all of the brown sugar has dissolved, stirring frequently. If you don’t thoroughly dissolve the sugar now, it will be gritty, rather than gooey, later – so be sure your sauce is nice and smooth.
2.   Once all of the sugar has dissolved, remove from heat and stir in the cinnamon and vanilla.
3.   Pour the caramel sauce into the bottom of a 9×12 inch baking dish, and sprinkle the chopped pecans evenly over top.

1.   Gently sink your fist into the dough, releasing some of the gasses. Peel it out of the bowl, and place on a flour-dusted counter. Using your fingers, press the dough into a 12×18 inch rectangle.
2.   Using a flexible rubber spatula, spread the butter and spice mixture evenly over the dough, going all the way to the edges. Spread the brown sugar on top of that.
3.   Roll the dough up into one long tube, keeping the spiral as tight as possible. Once it’s all rolled up, slice the tube in half, then into quarters. Cut each quarter into thirds, and you should have 12 even rolls. It may be helpful to lightly grease your knife before cutting. If you’d like to make these ahead, you should be able to wrap the individual rolls in plastic wrap and freeze them for later. When you’re ready to bake them, simply thaw them, make the caramel sauce, and let them rise according to the rest of the recipe. I haven’t tried this myself, but hear it works nicely.
4.   Place the sliced buns on top of the pecans and caramel sauce, and cover them loosely with plastic wrap. Set aside to rise for 1-2 hours, or until doubled in size. Tip: if you want them to rise faster, try turning your oven to its lowest setting and opening the door. Place the baking dish on the open door of the oven. Rotate the dish and check that it isn’t too warm every 20 minutes or so, until the rolls have doubled in size and are filling the pan.

1.   Preheat your oven to 350f., and place a baking sheet on one of the lower racks to catch any drips.
2.   Bake the rolls on the middle rack for 12-15 minutes, then cover them loosely with aluminum foil. This is an important step to keep the top side from getting too dark before the insides have time to cook. Rotate the pan to ensure even baking, and bake for another 18-25 minutes. I like mine a little under-done in the center, but if you’d like you can bake yours a little longer.
3.   Remove the buns from the oven, and set aside to cool for 10-15 minutes before removing from the pan. If you take the buns out too soon, the caramel sauce will all drip into a puddle at the bottom of the buns… if you wait too long, the caramel will harden into the pan and be very difficult to remove. Once ready, slide a knife around the edges and then quickly and carefully invert the entire baking dish over a cookie tray or platter. Ta-da! Congratulations, you may now dig in!

Best served fresh from the oven with a hot cup of tea or coffee.

Freshly Brewed Coffee

Have you ever given or received a random act of kindness (or tastiness)? Tell me in the comments below!

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2 Responses to Pumpkin Pecan Sticky Buns & Random Acts of Tastiness

  1. Courtney J October 6, 2012 at 1:19 am #

    Yummmmmmm!!!! These look AMAZING! Wow! :)

    Love the pics of the crossword puzzle. *hehe* I adore doing puzzles. Also, love the pic of you holding the mug. The lighting is gorgeous! :) Such a happy picture.

  2. Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes October 15, 2012 at 4:32 pm #

    Amazing Willow – you, the pictures, the buns, are all so incredibly amazing! I love random acts of kidness, lending a helping hand, giving away a boatloaod of baked goods or freshly canned jam – I love seeing that smile and making someones day a little brighter :)

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