The Fresh Loaf

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Cinnamon Maple Pecan Whole Wheat Sourdough Sticky Buns

Benito's picture

Cinnamon Maple Pecan Whole Wheat Sourdough Sticky Buns

Did you know that the price of pecans is much less here in the south compared with in Canada?  So I decided I’d try making pecan sticky buns that I’ve seen but never eaten.  To bring a bit of Canada to them I’ve added maple syrup to the topping.  The rest of the bun is pretty standard cinnamon rolls.  I’ve used my usual stiff sweet levain to keep the sourness in check.  I’m still fully hand developing the dough so decided to try an experiment.  I added the butter that would go into the dough, usually late in development, into the saucepan with the milk and flour while preparing the tangzhong.  This changes the tangzhong making it looser and somewhat greasier.  However, this change reduced the number of slap and folds by 50% to get full dough development.  Having more KA WW flour than I can use up before my stay here ends I’m adding WW to everything.  I figure most people won’t notice the small amount that I’ve added here since it is only in the tangzhong and with the strong flavours they won’t taste it.


PREPARE THE BROWN SUGAR CINNAMON FILLING: In a medium bowl, whisk together the 140g dark brown sugar, 12g flour, 6g cinnamon, and small pinch of salt. Cover and set aside.


Topping for 9x9” pan

170 g chopped pecans

70 g unsalted butter

57 g packed light or dark brown sugar

41 g whole milk

41 g maple syrup

1 g salt




Mix the levain ingredients in a jar or pyrex container with space for at least 300% growth. 

Press down with your knuckles or silicone spatula to create a uniform surface and to push out air.

At a temperature of 76ºF, it typically takes up to 10-12 hours for this sweet stiff levain to be at peak.  For my starter I typically see 3-3.5 times increase in size at peak.  The levain will smell sweet with only a mild tang.



In a sauce pan set on medium heat, stir the milk and flour until blended. Then cook for several minutes until well thickened, stirring regularly with a spoon or heat-resistant spatula. Let cool in the pan or, for faster results, in a new bowl.  Theoretically it should reach 65ºC (149ºF) but I don’t find I need to measure the temperature as the tangzhong gelatinizes at this temperature.  You can prepare this the night before and refrigerate it, ensure that it is covered to prevent it from drying out.


If you plan on using a stand mixer to mix this dough, set up a Bain Marie and use your stand mixer’s bowl to prepare the tangzhong.



In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the milk (consider holding back 10 g of milk and adding later if this is the first time you’re making this), egg, tangzhong, salt, sugar and levain.  Mix and then break up the levain into many smaller pieces.  Next add the flours.  I like to use my spatula to mix until there aren’t many dry areas.  Allow the flour to hydrate (fermentolyse) for 20-30 minutes.  Mix on low speed and then medium speed until moderate gluten development this may take 5-10 mins.  You may want to scrape the sides of the bowl during the first 5 minutes of mixing.  Next add room temperature butter one pat at a time.  The dough may come apart, be patient, continue to mix until it comes together before adding in more butter.  Once all the butter has been added and incorporated increase the speed gradually to medium. Mix at medium speed until the gluten is well developed, approximately 10 mins.  You will want to check gluten development by windowpane during this time and stop mixing when you get a good windowpane. 


On the counter, shape the dough into a tight ball, cover in the bowl and ferment for 2 - 3 hours at 82ºF.  There may be some rise visible at this stage.


Optional cold retard overnight or just 1.5 hours to chill the dough for easier shaping.


Prepare your pan by greasing it or line with parchment paper.   Meanwhile, make the topping:  Spread chopped pecans in an even layer in the pan. Set aside. Combine the rest of the topping ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the butter has melted, then bring to a simmer. Allow to simmer for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, give it a quick whisk, then pour over pecans. Set aside.


This dough is very soft. Act quickly to roll, spread the filling, and cut before the dough warms and softens further. If it begins to soften, place it in the fridge to firm.

Remove your bulk fermentation container from the fridge, lightly flour your work surface in a large rectangle shape, and the top of the dough in the bowl. Then, gently scrape out the dough to the center of your floured rectangle. Lightly dust the top of the dough with flour, and using a rolling pin, roll the dough out to a 15″ x 15″ square or larger rectangle.


Brush melted butter on rolled dough.  Sprinkle brown sugar cinnamon filling mix on top.


Starting at one of the long sides of the rectangle in front of you, begin rolling up the dough as you move across. Be sure to tightly roll the dough by gently tugging on the dough as you roll.

Once finished rolling up the dough, divide it into nine 1 1/2″ pieces using a sharp knife. Transfer the pieces to the prepared baking pan and cover with a large, reusable bag, place in a warm spot.  I use my proofing box set to 82°F.  Final proof may take 3-6 hours, be patient and wait until the dough passes the finger poke test.


Be sure to start preheating your oven about 30 minutes before you feel the rolls will be fully proofed. For me, the final warm proof time was about 3 hours at 77°F (25°C).



Preheat your oven, with a rack in the middle, to 400°F (200°C). After the warm proof, uncover your dough and gently press the tops of a few rolls.  The fully proofed rolls will look very soft. The texture of the dough will be almost like a whipped mousse. Be sure to give them extra time in warm proof if necessary. If the dough needs more time to proof, cover the pan and give the dough another 15 to 30 minutes at a warm temperature and check again.

Once your oven is preheated, remove your pan from its bag, slide it into the oven, and bake for 40 to 45 minutes.  Once fully baked remove from the oven and then invert pan onto a serving platter.

My Index of Bakes.


Benito's picture

These were very delicious and sticky.  We each had one for lunch, the rest of the batch went to neighbours and staff of our building here in Fort Lauderdale.  I’d make these again in a heartbeat.

CalBeachBaker's picture

Let me second that WOW! Those look sinful.


Benito's picture

Thank you Tony, they were sticky and yummy.  I’m glad I made these.


Isand66's picture

These look amazing!  Pecans are my favorite and these look visually evil 👿 in a good way.  Lucky neighbors you have 😀

Benito's picture

If you haven’t made these then you need to Ian, especially if you love pecans.


JonJ's picture

These look awesome. Adding to my list of things to bake.

And, since it is "only" 170g pecans doesn't matter too much if the pecans are pricey. In fact, for me real maple syrup would be the expensive ingredient 😃


Benito's picture

Thank you Jon, you’re right 170 g isn’t really much so even if they’re a bit pricey it’s fine.  I guess maple syrup has to travel a long way to get to you, where is most of it from that you get, is it Canadian or American?


Sugarowl's picture

I love sticky buns! Publix has a buy-one-get-one right now on Fischer pecans, so I just bought some. Time to make some sticky buns this week!

Benito's picture

Glad to have inspired you to make sticky buns, I’ll have to make these again with walnuts when I get home, people seemed to enjoy them.