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Spiced maple walnut sticky buns

This holiday-inspired brunch dish is perfectly sticky and sweet thanks to the maple syrup and has a fun crunchy element thanks to the walnuts and pecans. 




  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup milk


  • 1/2 cup milk, warmed
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons medium-grained kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, soft

Sticky Part

  • Butter, for greasing the pan
  • 8 ounces pecan halves
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons golden syrup, dark honey, or dark or light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon medium-grained kosher salt


  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 teaspoon medium-grained kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground clove
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper, optional
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • Flour, for dusting
  • Flaky salt, for finishing if desired


  1. Start with the dough the evening before you want to serve the buns. Lightly butter a large bowl.


  1. Combine the all-purpose flour, water, and milk in a small saucepan and set over medium heat. Cook, whisking constantly until thickened to a smooth paste, about two minutes. Set aside to cool to room temperature.


  1. Pour the warm milk into the bowl of a stand mixer. Scatter the yeast onto the milk and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Pour in the sugar, eggs, vanilla bean paste, flour, and salt. Scape in the cooled tangzhong. Place the bowl onto the stand mixer with the dough hook attached. Mix on medium-low speed for 12 minutes, stopping and scraping down the bowl and hook periodically. With the mixer running, drop small pieces of butter into the dough until incorporated. Let the mixer run for five minutes more, at which point the dough should be smooth and elastic, and slightly sticky; it will collect around the hook and pull from the sides of the bowl. If it is not holding height, add a little more flour, a tablespoon at a time, and continue to knead until it does. Scrape the dough into the greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and proof in a warm, draft-free spot for 1 hour before refrigerating for one hour more.
  2. Lightly grease a nine-by-13-inch metal baking pan, and set aside.

Sticky Part

  1. Scatter the walnuts halves over a quarter sheet pan or rimmed baking sheet and bake until darkened in colour, aromatic, and toasted through, eight to 12 minutes, check them towards the end of the cooking time and shuffle the nuts around to toast evenly. Let cool, then roughly break into pieces in a mortar and pestle or in a zip-top bag with a rolling pin. Sieve to remove any powdery bits.
  2. Melt the butter over medium-low heat. As soon as it is liquid, stir in the remaining ingredients. Raise the heat to medium and bring to a boil, undisturbed, for 15 to 20 seconds. Carefully pour the syrup into the prepared pan, tilting the pan to coax the caramel into the edges. Scatter the toasted walnuts in an even layer over top, and let cool.


  1. To make the filling, place brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, clove, and black pepper into the melted butter.

Assemble and Serve 

  1. Remove the dough from the fridge. Tip out onto a lightly floured work surface. Dust the top of the dough with flour, as well as your rolling pin. Working quickly but gently, roll the dough into a 20-by-nine-inch rectangle, about one-quarter-inch thick, with the long side parallel to the edge of the counter. As you work, make sure the dough is not sticking, and try to keep the edges straight and the corners square. (This can be done on floured parchment paper if concerned about sticking and forming the rolls later.)
  2. Spread the spiced butter mixture evenly across the dough, leaving a scant one-inch border on the long side farthest from you.
  3. Now working from the closest side, roll the dough into a tight spiral, pinching the end to seal. If using parchment paper, use it to aid in lifting dough. Even the log so that it doesn’t taper to the ends. With a thin, sharp knife, trim the ends to just reveal the swirl. Then cut the log into 12 pieces—cut the log in half first, then cut those pieces in half, then finally those four into thirds. Arrange the rolls, spiral up, on top of the nuts and caramel in the pan, in a three-by-four grid. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  4. The next morning, let rise in a warm, draft-free spot again until almost doubled in size, about 60 minutes but will depend on the room temperature.
  5. Preheat an oven to 350° F with a rack in the middle position.
  6. Bake the rolls in the hot oven until puffed, golden, firm, and bouncy when prodded at the center of the pan, 40 to 45 minutes. Rotate the pan once during baking and tent it with foil if browning too quickly. Remove the tray from the oven. The buns are done when their middles register 185° F on an instant-read thermometer.
  7. Run an offset spatula around the edge of the pan, then cool for five minutes on a wire rack set over a baking sheet. Carefully invert the pan onto the rack, using that offset spatula to arrange any stray nuts back to where they belong. Sprinkle with flaky salt, if desired.
  8. Serve warm or at room temperature. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for a few days, or freeze for up to one month. Enjoy! 

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