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Upside Down (un-flipped) Pecan Sticky Buns

Before I completely separate myself from sweet recipes after a season of treats, here are notes about my favorite holiday recipes this year so I can find them again next year (….. or sooner).

This Pecan Sticky Bun recipe from Deb Perelman, Smitten Kitchen, is intimidating because it has so many steps.  But, once you wrap your head around what needs to be done, it’s not so hard, and the result is superb.

Her description is so long, that I “skimmed” when I read it and missed the step where you flip the buns.  They are baked sitting in the Pecan Caramel as a layer on the bottom of the pan and are to be flipped before serving so the goo is on top of the bun instead of underneath.  My husband did ask where the sauce part was.  It was there, just on the underside, instead of on top.  Although, the taste is the same, they definitely look more decadent when flipped.

I tried the Whole Lemon Bar recipe in the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook this year, too, but, despite the fact that they contain the entire lemon, they were not tart enough for my family.  I have a Lemon Bar recipe in the Archives of this blog and remember it as the best one.  It is from the New York Times and comes out like Lemon Curd on Shortbread.  That is my go-to Lemon Bar recipe for now, and this is my go-to Sticky Bun recipe.

Pecan Sticky Buns

Make the Dough:
1 packet (1 tablespoon) instant or active dry yeast
3/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
6 tablespoons  butter, melted and cooled to lukewarm
4 large egg yolks
1 large whole egg
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting counter
1 teaspoon coarse or kosher salt
Oil or butter to coat bowl

Proof the yeast.

Whisk in butter, yolks and whole egg.

Add half the flour and combine with the dough hook of a stand mixer or a wooden spoon.

Add salt, then second half of flour and continue to mix until a craggy dough forms.  Knead for 5-10 minutes.

Let the dough rise until doubled, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Prepare Caramel:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup  honey
1/4 teaspoon salt

Melt butter in a medium heavy saucepan over medium heat.

Stir in brown sugar, cream, honey and salt.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until caramel is golden brown and glossy, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Pour into a the bottom and up the sides of a deep 9×13-inch baking dish and let the dish cool down in the fridge while you assemble your rolls.

Mix Filling:
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon coarse or kosher salt
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups toasted and cooled, chopped pecans (divided)

In a small bowl, stir sugars, cinnamon and salt together.

Remove slightly cooled caramel base from fridge and sprinkle it with 1 cup pecans.

Turn the risen dough out onto a floured work surface and roll it into a rectangle that is 18 inches wide and 12 or so inches long. (It’s okay if it goes longer/thinner, but try to keep the width at 18″.)

Brush the dough with melted butter.

Sprinkle it with the filling and then 1/2 cup pecans.

Roll the dough into a tight 18-inch long spiral.

Using a sharp serrated knife, very, very gently saw the log into 1 1/2-inch sections; you should get 12.

Arrange the buns evenly spread out over pecan-caramel base.

Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for another 1 to 2 hours, until they press tightly together in the pan and look puffed again.

*(Or, you can refrigerate the buns overnight, and up to 16 hours. If chilling overnight, remove from fridge 1 hour before you’d like them to bake. Heat oven to 350°F (175°C).)

Bake your buns until they’re puffed and golden (the internal temperature should read 185 degrees F), approximately 30 to 40 minutes. If they brown too quickly on top before the centers are baked, cover dish with foil for remaining baking time.

Let rest in pan on cooling rack for 2 to 3 minutes, then carefully and quickly invert onto a large serving tray, nudging any caramel left behind in the pan or puddled in the center of the buns back evenly over the tops and sides. Eat warm. Store any leftovers in the fridge, rewarming slightly.

Adapted Recipe from smitten kitchen.com

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Holiday Whole Lemon Bars

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