Grandma Schmidt’s Sticky Buns
By Chef Thomas Schmidt
- ¼ cup warm 3.5% milk (105° to 115°)
- 1 package active dry yeast (7 grams)
- 1/3 cup sugar
- ¾ cup 3.5% milk
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
- 3 large farm egg yolks
- 2 tbsp finely grated orange zest
- 1 ¼ tsp kosher salt
- 4 cups All Purpose flour, may need a little bit more
- ½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter
- ¾ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter
- 3 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp agave syrup (grandma used Karo)
- 1 ½ cups coarsely chopped walnuts (about 6 oz)
Make the dough the night before: In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine warm water, yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar. Stir to dissolve and let sit until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add milk, soft butter, sugar, egg yolks, orange zest, salt and 3 cups flour. Mix with dough on low speed until blended scrap sides as needed. Slowly add the remaining 1 cup of flour, increase speed to medium, kneading until the dough is smooth and a little sticky (adding a little more flour if too wet), 3 to 5 minutes. Melt a little butter and dump in a medium sized bowl. Shape the dough into a ball and place in the buttered bowl. Turn dough over in bowl to coat with the butter. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise overnight in the fridge, it will double in volume.
In the morning, preheat the oven to 375° take out the dough and place in a warm place (I put it on the range over the oven) for about ½ hour, just to warm slightly. Unwrap and punch down the dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured cutting board and roll out dough into approximately a 12″ x 18″ rectangle.
As the dough is warming make the filling and topping
For the filling: Combine brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Melt butter but keep separate.
For the topping: In a 1-quart saucepan, combine brown sugar, butter, walnuts, honey and agave (or corn) syrup over low heat; stir until sugar and butter are melted. Pour mixture into a greased 9″ x 13″ pan, spreading to coat evenly.
Back to the dough
Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar mixture. Starting with the long side, roll dough into a cylinder. Place seam side down on a flat surface and cut crosswise into 15 slices. Place dough rounds, flat side down, on top of prepared topping (3 across x 5 lengthwise). Don’t crowd them that they touch. Cover with plastic wrap, leaving to rise in a warm place. Bake buns until golden, 30 to 35 minutes.
Remove from oven and invert: Remove pan from oven and immediately, and carefully, invert onto a sheet pan or large rectangular platter. If you have the patience, let buns cool slightly and serve warm.