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Sticky buns

Everyone needs a gooey, sticky cinnamon bun recipe in their repertoire—not only for brunchy mornings, but for showing up with anytime you want to make someone ecstatically happy. My go-to recipe makes two pans: one to eat immediately, another to share, or wrap and freeze to bake on another day.

If you want to assemble them the night before to bake in the morning, you can slow the rise by putting them in the fridge overnight; take them out and let them warm up on the countertop while you preheat your oven.




  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup milk, warmed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup golden syrup, corn or maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup water


  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon

Glaze (optional):

  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk or cream
  • 1 tablespoon butter, soft or melted


  1. Put the water in a large bowl (or the bowl of your stand mixer) and sprinkle with the yeast and a pinch of the sugar. Let stand for five minutes, or until it gets foamy.
  2. In a small bowl or measuring cup, mix the milk and eggs together with a fork. Add to the yeast mixture along with three cups of the flour and the remaining sugar; mix until well blended and sticky. Add the butter, remaining flour (hold a bit back, just in case you don’t need it) and salt and stir by hand or with the dough hook attachment of your stand mixer until you have a soft dough. Knead for about eight minutes, or until it’s smooth and elastic—it should still be quite tacky, but will swell and smooth out as it sits. Place the dough back in the bowl, cover with a tea towel and let rise in a warm place for an hour or two, or until doubled in size.
  3. Meanwhile, make the goo: combine the butter, brown sugar, syrup and water in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring until well-blended and smooth. Divide between two buttered deep dish pie plates, 23 or 25 centimeter baking dishes or cake pans, pouring it over the bottom.
  4. Divide the dough in half and roll each piece (you shouldn’t need to flour the countertop—it will cling a bit better without) into an 28x38 centimeter (or thereabouts) rectangle. Brush each with half the melted butter and sprinkle with half the brown sugar, smoothing it over the surface. Sprinkle with cinnamon.
  5. Starting on a long side, roll each piece of dough up into a log. Using a serrated knife or dental floss, cut it crosswise into thirds, then cut each piece into thirds—this is easier than eyeballing nine pieces. Place the rolls cut-side-up in the pans, placing one in the middle and the rest around it, or in three rows of three. Cover with a tea towel and let rise for another hour, or if you’re making them the night before, cover and refrigerate; in the morning, take them out and leave them on the countertop for half an hour or so before baking. (If you like, wrap one of the pans and tuck it away in the freezer for another day—you can bake them from frozen, or thaw them first.)
  6. When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350˚F and put a baking sheet on the lower oven rack to catch any drips. Bake the buns for 30-40 minutes, or until they’re deep golden. Let them cool for five to ten minutes, but invert onto a plate while they’re still warm. (If you wait too long and they stick to the pan, slide them back into the oven or rewarm them on the stovetop, then try again.)
  7. To make the glaze, whisk together the icing sugar, milk and melted butter, and drizzle over the buns with a fork. (I like to drizzle the buns with glaze, invert them onto a plate, and then invert them back onto another plate—this allows gravity to pull the goo down to the tops, then back again, which is what I did for the photo.) Serve warm.

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