You may be a gullible dreamer just like I am and believe the good news momentarily without asking any questions…because when luck is on your side, sometimes it’s better to avoid asking questions. Well yes, I have won a recipe book signed by the one and only Martha Stewart, thank you very much. Of course I have. Why wouldn’t I?
No questions asked…at least for the first couple seconds.
Then my brain, which is practically stubborn by nature, starts to ponder the obvious questions that would run through the mind of anyone who has never ever won anything in her life. Well, that sounds negative and hopeless, doesn’t it? Let me clarify…I have won several crucial things in my life that I will never take for granted: the opportunity to be blessed with a great family, a sweet and caring soulmate, a dual citizenship, a few splendid friends, etc, etc. But that’s not what I meant.
What I meant is that I have never won a vacation to some island in the Caribbean. I have never won the lottery. I have never won a free movie ticket. I have never won a free cupcake. And I certainly have never won a signed book. Oh wait. Once I did win a seat exchange from second class to first class on a British Airways flight.
So after doubting my luck and ability to actually win something and after asking “why me?,” several times, I responded to the email. Martha Stewart’s Social Media Content Director, informed me that Martha had chosen her winner of the day for sharing her recipes online and that the winner would receive a free signed book. But the story didn’t end there. He then added that he was coordinating with other book winners and would possibly do an entry on Martha’s blog on great completed projects/recipes by book winners. He suggested that I keep him informed, that I take pictures of the preparation, and most importantly…that I have fun. And that’s exactly what I did!
It was difficult to choose a recipe from the book and I must have bookmarked over a dozen recipes with sticky notes, but as soon as I glanced over pages 126-127, it was decided. It was basically love at first sight and these sticky buns had me at hello. I simply had to recreate these magnificent, sticky, doughy, tender, and sweet creations. After having tasted them, I can fully say that I am so thankful I did!
Backstory: Eating a freshly baked sticky bun is a hands-on experience, whether you prefer to bite into it whole or peel apart the gooey spiral and eat one piece at a time. The sugary treat, now standard fare in coffee shops and malls nationwide, comes to us via the Pennsylvania Dutch, who are famous for their sweet yeasted breads and other pastries. Today, you can visit Pennsylvania’s Lancaster County to sample authentic Amish sticky buns—or use this recipe, chock-full of brown sugar, cinnamon, and pecans, to bake your own.
2 packages active dry yeast (each 1 scant tablespoon)
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm milk (about 110 F)
6 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons salt
4 large eggs
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted buter, cut into small pieces and softened, plus more for pan
3 1/3 cups pecans (about 14 ounces)
2 1/4 cups light corn syrup
1 1/4 cups packed light-brown sugar
1 1/2 cups plus 3 tablespoons sour cream
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1. Sprinkle yeast over the milk; stir to dissolve yeast. Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes. With an electric mixer on low speed, beat flour, granulated sugar, and salt to combine. Mix in yeast mixture and eggs until combined.
2. Increase speed to high and add the butter, several pieces at a time; continue mixing the dough until it is smooth and shiny, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a parchment-lined 13-by-18-inch baking pan; use your hands to spread dough to fit the pan. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate up to overnight.
3. Preheat oven to 350 F. Generously butter a standar 12-cup muffin tin. Chop 2 cups pecans; break the remaining 1 1/3 cups pecans in half lengthwise. Pour 3 tablespoons corn syrup into each prepared cup; top with about 1 tablespoon brown sugar and 2 tablespoons halved pecans.
4. Remove dough from refrigerator and let stand at room temperature until slightly softened, about 15 minutes. Roll out dough lengthwise to form a 15-by-20 inch rectangle about 1/4 inch thick. Using a spatula, spread sour cream evenly over dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border all around. Dust sour cream with cinnamon and sprinkle with 2/3 cup brown sugar. Top evenly with chopped pecans and roll the dough up lengthwise to form a log, about 3 inches in diameter. Trim ends so log is 18 inches.
5. Using a sharp knife, slice log into 1 1/2-inch-thick rounds. Place one in each prepared cup. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until dough is 1/2 inch above cups, 20-30 minutes. Transfer to oven, placing a baking sheet on the rack below to catch any drips. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until dark golden brown, about 40 minutes. Remove from oven, and immediately turn out buns onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Replace any pecans that may have fallen off. Let cool on a wire rack before serving; best enjoyed the same day.
Recipe and recipe backstory is courtesy of Martha’s American Food: A Celebration of Our Nation’s Most Treasure Dishes, From Coast to Coast.