These sticky buns will never be considered a healthy breakfast option, but they are an insanely delicious treat. The soft, buttery dough is brushed with bacon fat and rolled up with brown sugar and pecans, then baked in a gooey maple-caramel sauce with crunchy bacon bits.
Special equipment: You will need 2 (8-inch) round cake pans and a pastry brush for this recipe.
Game plan: The dough can be prepared and the pecans toasted up to 1 day ahead.
This recipe was featured as part of our How to Make Oven-Smoked Bacon project.
- Yield: 12 sticky buns
- Difficulty: Medium
- Total: 2 hrs 20 mins, plus rising time
For the dough:
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 (1/4-ounce) packet active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon fine salt
- 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out the dough
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and at room temperature, plus more for coating the bowl
For the topping:
- 8 thick-cut bacon slices
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks)
- 1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- 2/3 cup pecan halves, toasted and coarsely chopped
For the dough:
- Coat a large bowl with butter and set aside. Place the milk and water in a small heatproof bowl or measuring cup and warm in the microwave until the mixture reaches 100°F to 115°F (this can also be done in a small saucepan on the stovetop over low heat). Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Set aside until foamy, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add the eggs, sugar, and salt and whisk until evenly combined.
- Add the measured flour and place the bowl on a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix on low speed until the flour is incorporated and the dough just comes together, about 1 minute.
- Increase the speed to medium high and add the measured butter one piece at a time, letting each piece completely incorporate before adding the next. Continue mixing until the butter is completely incorporated and the dough is smooth and pulling away from the sides of the bowl (the dough will be soft, moist, and slightly sticky), about 10 minutes total.
- Transfer the dough to the prepared bowl and turn to coat with the butter. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and, if you’re baking the sticky buns the same day, leave it in a warm place until the dough doubles in size, about 90 minutes. Punch the dough down, cover with plastic wrap, return to the warm place, and let rise again until doubled, about 45 to 60 minutes more. (If you’re not baking the dough until the next day, place it in the refrigerator and let it rise overnight.)
For the topping:
- Heat the oven to 400°F and arrange a rack in the middle.
- Arrange the bacon slices in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until browned and crisp, about 15 to 25 minutes.
- Transfer the bacon to a paper-towel-lined plate and pour the rendered fat into a small heatproof bowl. Using a pastry brush, coat 2 (8-inch) round cake pans with the bacon fat; set aside. Set aside the remaining bacon fat.
- When the bacon slices are cool enough to handle, cut them into small dice and set aside.
- Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the brown sugar and whisk to combine. Cook, whisking occasionally, until the edges of the mixture start bubbling, about 4 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the cream, maple syrup, and salt.
- Divide the mixture between the prepared pans. Sprinkle half of the diced bacon into each pan; set the pans aside.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and keep the rack in the middle. Place a baking sheet covered with aluminum foil on a lower rack to catch any drips from the sticky buns while they are baking. (If you had let the dough rise overnight, remove the bowl from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before rolling out.)
- On a lightly floured work surface with a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a 14-by-14-inch square. Liberally brush the dough all the way to the edges with the reserved bacon fat. Sprinkle with the brown sugar and toasted pecans all the way to the edges.
- Starting at the edge closest to you, roll the dough into a cylindrical shape. As necessary, tuck the center in and under to ensure that the cylinder is being rolled to an even thickness.
- Using a sharp knife, slice the dough cylinder crosswise into 12 pieces (they will resemble slices of a tortilla wrap).
- Place 1 roll cut-side down in the center of each prepared cake pan. Evenly space 5 rolls around each center roll. Set the pans in a warm place uncovered and let the rolls rise until they touch the sides of the pan and each other, about 40 minutes.
- Place the pans in the oven on the middle rack and bake until the rolls are puffed and golden brown, about 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow the pans to cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Place a serving plate over top of each of the pans and invert the rolls onto the plate. Remove the pans.
- Serve the sticky buns immediately or at room temperature.