I’ve made no secret of my love for King Arthur Flour. I was thrilled when my wife and I made plans to visit family in Vermont because I would have the opportunity to visit KAF’s headquarters, in Norwich.
Unfortunately, my schedule didn’t allow for me to take one of their baking classes. My wife and I did stop for lunch, however, and we sampled the King Arthur Flour sticky buns, which, according to the attendant behind the counter, people travel specifically to taste.
The sticky buns were certainly delicious, with a gooey texture and sweet buttery taste, almost like honey. After trying the buns, I had to know: Could I make sticky buns as good as the ones at King Arthur Flour? I remembered seeing a version of the recipe in the cook book I had. (Here’s another version, with slightly different instructions.)
After testing my execution of the KAF recipe, my wife declared them even better than the ones we had at the bakery. They included cinnamon, which added even more depth of flavor, and were even gooier.
I’m a sucker for a good sticky bun, and these did the trick.
- 2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour (Note: You can also use 2 cups of pastry flour, which will give an even more tender bun. I opted not to buy another type of flour.)
- 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon water
- 1/16 teaspoon instant yeast
- 1 1/2 cups (6 1/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup dry milk
- 1/4 cup dried potato flakes (optional, but makes for a more tender bun)
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast (1 packet)
- 6 tablespoons room-temperature butter
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 cup golden syrup or light corn syrup (Note: Golden syrup is a specialty item; I’m certain it contributed to the flavor of the buns I tried at the KAF bakery. I used corn syrup, and while the flavor wasn’t quite as unique, I don’t think golden syrup is a necessary purchase.)
- 1 tablespoon rum (optional, but why not?)
- 3 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 cup diced pecans
Step 1. The night before baking, combine the starter ingredients in a medium bowl. You just need a small pinch of yeast. Let the starter sit covered, at room temperature, over night, or at least 12 hours. By morning the starter will be full of air bubbles.
Step 2. Combine all of the dough ingredients with the starter and knead for about 7 minutes, until a smooth, supple dough forms. If the dough is still clinging to the sides of the mixing bowl, add another tablespoon of flour. Let the dough rise, 90 minutes to 2 hours.
Step 3. While the dough is rising, prepare the pans, the filling and the glaze. Whisk together the sugar and cinnamon and set aside. Grease a 9×13 pan with butter. To start on the glaze, combine the melted butter, corn syrup and rum in a small mixing bowl and whisk together. Then pour this mixture in the greased pan.
Step 5. Now it’s time to prepare the dough. Lightly grease a space that’s at least 14×20 inches. I used two cookie sheets. Plop the dough in the middle and start stretching. The dough is a pleasure to work with, and holds its shape well. Once it’s in the 14×20-inch rectangle, spread the cinnamon and sugar mixture, leaving about a 1-inch border.
Step 7. Divide the log into 12 equal pieces (divide it in half, then quarters, then divide each quarter into thirds) using a serrated knife. The buns at each end of the log likely won’t have any filling. Place the buns in the pan prepared with the pecan glaze, then cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 90 minutes. The buns won’t rise up that much, but they will spread out, until they almost touch.
Step 9. Remove the buns from the oven and let them cool for a couple minutes. Then transfer them to a pan lined with parchment paper. First gently separate each bun from its neighbors with a knife, then use a spatula to scoop up the bun and as much sticky glaze and flip it upside down (right-side up in this case) onto the parchment paper. As soon as the hot buns start coming out of the pan, the leftover glaze will start to cool and get much stickier. Work as quickly as possible, spreading the left-behind glaze on top of the buns.