Pull-Apart Sticky Buns

Pull-Apart Sticky Buns
I've been making this recipe for, gulp, over 35 years. (It stuns me that I'm old enough to have made a recipe for that long!) It's a version of a recipe shared with me by my college friend, Penny. She got it from her mother. So, if ever there's been a recipe that is tried-and-true, it's this one.
This can be baked in several kinds of pans, but I have found a 9x13 pan results in the most evenly cooked, easy-to-serve sticky buns. The original recipe was made in a bundt pan--some would call it monkey bread that way. I used a bundt pan for many years--it's pretty and festive that way. Either will work, but I recommend a 9x13 pan if you're feeding a crowd--it's much easier to serve, and every piece is equally good and evenly cooked.
Speed scratch convenience. Speed scratch cooking is when you combine a good quality prepared food with fresh ingredients to make the recipe easier and faster to prepare. This recipe uses frozen bread dough. I suppose you could make your own bread dough from scratch, if that's your thing. But honestly, part of the beauty of this recipe is that you start with ready-made frozen bread dough and end up with something that is gooey and delicious and tastes like it is totally made from scratch. 
Make-ahead convenience. This is one of the best things about this recipe. It can be assembled the night before, left out to rise overnight, and baked for breakfast first thing in the morning. I've also discovered that I can make it 1 to 2 days ahead and let it do the rising INSIDE the fridge. That was a new concept for me--I thought that bread dough needed warmth in order to rise. Not so. It needs more time to rise in the fridge, but rise it does! I absolutely love being able to make this well in advance of when I will bake it. There is no preparation or stress that morning. It's perfect for serving to overnight guests, at brunches, and during the holidays. In our family, we have had these sticky buns every Christmas morning and other special occasions for, gulp, over 35 years.
Impress the heck out of your guests. I'm always a bit taken aback by the raves I get from guests when I serve this. It looks hard, and tastes like it must have taken a long time to make. So, they're impressed. When I admit how easy it is, everyone wants the recipe.
Now all that's left is digging in and eating these gooey delights. Serve them warm--they're so much better that way. 
These sticky buns have taken center stage on our Christmas breakfast table for 35+ years. For our family, it just wouldn't be Christmas without them. We often have them for other special occasion breakfasts and brunches, too. (In the photo below, I baked the sticky buns in a 9x13 pan and then inverted them into a larger 10x15 pyrex baking dish for serving at the table.)

Ingredients
  • 2 pounds frozen bread dough -- 24 Rhodes (or similar) frozen dough dinner rolls; or 2 1-lb loaves, partially thawed for 1/2 hour and each loaf cut into 12 even pieces
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/8 cup cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
Directions:
Generously butter a 9x13 baking glass or metal pan. Sprinkle nuts evenly in bottom of pan. Combine sugar and cinnamon in small bowl. Melt butter in separate bowl. Dip each roll or dough piece in butter, then in sugar mixture. Place dipped dough in pan in even rows. Mix remaining butter and sugar mixture; distribute evenly over the tops of the dough. Cover with plastic wrap that is coated with cooking spray. Let rise until doubled* and bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes, until browned and done in center. (Cover loosely with sheet of foil in last 10-15 minutes, if browning too quickly.) 

DONENESS TIP: For extra insurance that the center sticky buns are cooked completely, insert an instant-read thermometer half way down a center bun. The internal temperature should be 190-200°
.
Remove from oven, let cool in pan for 5 minutes and invert onto serving platter. Serve warm.

*MAKE AHEAD RISING METHODS (times may vary depending on the temperature of your house)
1. Assemble the night before, leave out to rise overnight (approx. 8 hours), and bake first thing in the morning.
2. Assemble 20-24 hours in advance, put in the fridge to partially rise. The next day, remove from fridge and allow to rise at room temperature for 2-3 hours before baking.
3. Assemble 44-48 hours in advance, put in the fridge to rise. Remove from fridge and warm to room temperature for 30 minutes before baking.
4. FREEZER OPTION. Assemble pan, cover and freeze for up to a month in advance. Remove from freezer before you go to bed and let them rise overnight--ready to bake the next morning.

FOR A SMALLER BATCH. Cut all of the ingredients in half to make 12 sticky buns instead of 24. Assemble 12 sticky buns in an 8x8 baking dish, 9" deep dish pie plate, or 9" round cake pan (with 2" tall sides). Reduce the baking time by 5 minutes.

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