Breakfast & Brunch

The Best Sticky Toffee Buns with Pecans

These Sticky Toffee Buns are a cross between a fluffy pecan sticky roll and the classic English dessert – sticky toffee pudding. First, a quick yeasted dough is infused with rich molasses flavor and studded with chopped dates. Then, the dough is rolled with a buttery, brown sugar filling. Finally, the rolls are sliced and baked in a homemade toffee sauce with pecans. Once the pan is inverted all that gooey caramel and toasty pecans will top your spiraled buns in a picture perfect fashion. These Sticky Toffee Buns can be a cozy Sunday morning treat or a memory-worthy holiday crowd pleaser!

Even though these homemade Sticky Toffee Buns with Pecans will look like they came from the window of your city’s favorite bakery – we promise you can do it all by yourself! These buns follow the same basic guidelines and procedures as any great sticky bun recipe. However, the absence of cinnamon and the addition of molasses, dark brown sugar and dates makes these buns a one-of-a-kind delight.

These Sticky Toffee Buns were inspired by Sticky Toffee Pudding and the classic Pecan Sticky Bun.

Just Dough It: Making The Date Molasses Dough

These Sticky Toffee Buns use a simple yeasted dough that can be made by in the bowl of your stand mixer or kneaded by hand. This dough is flavored with molasses that gives the buns a rich color and deep caramelized flavor throughout. We recommend baking these buns with bread flour that will result in a fluffy, well-structured dough. That being said, you can make this recipe with all-purpose flour, if that is what you have available. After kneading, your dough may be a little soft and slightly tacky, but should not be overly sticky. Feel free to knead in some additional flour, one tablespoon at a time, if needed, to reduce stickiness.

Incorporating Dates Into the Dough

To mimic the flavors of England’s beloved sticky toffee pudding, we have added dates directly into this sticky bun dough. The dates add a natural sweetness and yummy, chewy texture. To evenly incorporate the dates into your dough, follow this procedure.

  1. Lightly dust your chopped dates in one teaspoon of flour to prevent them from sticking and clumping together.
  2. Turn your kneaded dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Using your hands, press the dough down into a thick disk or rectangle. Distribute about one third of the dates over the doughs surface. Lightly press the dates into the dough. Fold the dough in half over itself to enclose the dates within.
  3. Repeat this process twice more until all of the dates have been incorporated.
  4. Knead the dough once or twice to shape it into a round before proofing.

The Do-ughs and Don’ts of Working with Yeast

For most of our recipes, including these delicious Sticky Toffee Buns, we prefer to use active dry yeast. Active dry yeast is the World War II invention that revolutionized the home kitchen with shelf-stable, no-refrigeration-required leavening. We love baking with active dry yeast because it is widely-available and very reliable. We also appreciate active dry yeast’s better, yeast-ier flavors and our ability to ensure it’s liveliness before baking. In most cases, active dry yeast can be substituted with Instant Yeast using a 1:1 ratio. Instant yeast will rise only once (which will save you a little time) but lack the depth of flavor. (See Note: a.) Furthermore, there is no way of knowing if your instant yeast has died before baking. Long story short, this recipe was developed and tested using active dry yeast.

Here Are Some Tips to Ensure Properly Proofed Sticky Toffee Buns:

Before You Make the Dough:
  • DO: Bloom (or hydrate) your active dry yeast in warm milk around 105 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees celsius). This temperature is reminiscent of warm bath water. If you are unsure, we recommend using an instant-read thermometer to ensure proper temperature.
  • DON’T: Overheat your milk. Yeast will begin to die at 120 degrees Fahrenheit (49 degrees celsius). Dead, or partially dead, yeast will not leaven your bread leaving you with undesirably dense dough.
  • DO: Add sugar to the warm milk to help activate your yeast. For this recipe, we are dissolving the molasses directly into our milk. This process helps to distribute the molasses throughout the dough and provides sugars to feed your yeast and kickstart fermentation.
  • DO: Allow your yeast to bloom for 5 – 10 minutes. Your shelf-stable yeasts have been dormant for a long time! This warm bath allows your yeast to “wake up” and prepares them to work their rising magic.
  • DON’T: Bake with inactive yeast. Discard any yeast that does not create bubbles or foam in your warm milk. No bubbles, no business! Healthy yeast will begin to ferment in warm, sweetened liquids. If your milk does not become foamy after 5 – 10 minutes, your yeast is dead and will not leaven (rise) your buns. Save yourself the disappointment by discarding your flat, yeasty milk and try again.
After You Make The Dough:
  • DO: Proof (rise) your dough in a warm, draft-free environment. Rising (also known as proofing) doughs prefer temperatures around 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees celsius). You can do this on your kitchen counter, covering the dough with a damp towel, proofing bag or plastic wrap. If your kitchen is running a little cooler, you can proof the covered dough in your oven, with the light on. If using this method, make sure you do not begin preheating your oven while proofing!
  • DON’T: Over-proof you dough. Closely watch the dough until it has doubled in volume. Proofing dough is a fermentation process that has many, many variable factors. Whenever rising dough, all rise time instructions are subjective and will depend greatly on the conditions specific to your dough and kitchen temperatures. Properly proofed dough for this recipe will have doubled in volume and gently spring back to shape when poked. If your dough is over-proofed, it may deflate when poked and flatten in the oven.
  • DO: Rise the dough twice! This dough will need to rise twice to become the fluffy buns you are dreaming of. The initial rise will take place as soon as the dough has been kneaded. The second and final rise will happen after the Stick Buns have been filled and shaped. You will be looking to double the doughs volume in each rise.
Placing these shaped buns over a layer of Sticky Toffee Sauce and Pecans.

Buttery, Pecan Filling

While your Sticky Toffee Bun dough is rising, this sweet, buttery filling will whip up in no time. This Brown Sugar Filling is made from softened butter, dark brown sugar, toasted pecans and a pinch of salt. We like to lightly cream our butter, salt and dark brown sugar together until is is light and easily spreadable. We love the richness of dark brown sugar, but you can substitute light brown sugar for a lighter, less-caramelized flavor. While you may be tempted to use melted butter in the filling, we can’t personally recommend it. We have found that melted butter tends to seep out of the buns during the proof and baking. Instead, your creamed butter and brown sugar will spread smoothly across your dough. Then, you can sprinkle your pecans across the filling and gently roll into delectable little spirals.

Spreading Brown Sugar Filling across the Date Molasses Dough.

Sticky Toffee Sauce and a Crunchy Pecan Topping

The only thing that could make the Sticky Toffee Buns better is a warm blanket of homemade sticky toffee pudding sauce and a layer of crunchy, nutty pecans. This English toffee is the finger-licking sticky sauce that will keep you dreaming of these pecan buns long after the pan is cleared. This Sticky Toffee Sauce is made of just a couple ingredients and is so easy-peasy you’ll be searching for reasons to make another batch. We recommend making this sauce during the dough’s initial proof and transferring it from the stovetop to your cool baking dish Immediately. This will give the warm toffee a chance to cool for a few minutes before adding the sliced buns. (So you don’t disturb the ideal proofing temperatures.)

As for the pecans, we like to use some full pecan halves AND some chopped pecans – but that’s totally up to you. You can leave them all intact for a luxurious presentation or chop them all up to get little bits in every bite. Either way, we do not toast these pecan toppers before baking. Since these pecans will bake on the bottom of your dish, toasted pecans have the potential to burn. Use raw, un-toasted pecans for the best results.

Sticky Toffee Buns with Pecans fresh from the oven and ready to be flipped.

Share Your Success!

We hope these Sticky Toffee Buns bring as much delight to your Sunday mornings as they do to our own! When I was growing up, my mom made the ultimate pecan sticky buns every Christmas morning. Many moons later, Scott and I shared home-baked sticky toffee pudding on our first Christmas’s together. Needless to say, this recipe is near and dear to our hearts and we now find ourselves baking these buns all year long. If this recipe makes its way to your table be sure to drop us a comment below! And, as always, tag @foodworthfeed in your Instagram posts and stories. We love having a seat at your table, and you’ll always have one at ours!

Sticky Toffee Bun being served on a plate.
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The Best Sticky Toffee Buns with Pecans


  • Author: foodworthfeed
  • Prep Time: 2 Hours, 30 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 – 45 Minutes
  • Total Time: 3 Hours, 15 Minutes
  • Yield: 12 Sticky Toffee Buns

Description

These Sticky Toffee Buns are a cross between a fluffy, pecan sticky roll and the classic English dessert – sticky toffee pudding!


Ingredients

Date Molasses Dough 

  • 177 milliliters (3/4 cup) whole milk
  • 50 milliliters (1/4 cup) molasses, we use light sugarcane molasses
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons (1 packet) active dry yeast (See Note: a.) 
  • 480 grams plus 1 teaspoon (4 cups plus one teaspoon) bread flour, divided, plus more if needed and to prevent sticking
  • 1 teaspoon fine, sea or kosher salt
  • 25 grams (2 tablespoons) granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs, room-temperature, lightly beaten
  • 58 grams (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened to room-temperature
  • 113 grams (about 1116 dates) dried dates, pitted, chopped (See Note: b.)
  • Cooking spray or oil, to lightly-oil a mixing bowl, as needed

Brown Sugar Filling

  • 115 grams (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened to room-temperature
  • 179 grams (3/4 cup) dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fine, sea or kosher salt
  • 60 grams (1/2 cup) pecans, lightly toasted, chopped

Sticky Toffee Sauce and Crunchy Pecan Topping

  • 75 grams (1/3 cup) unsalted butter
  • 75 grams (1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 15 milliliters (1 tablespoon) molasses, we use light sugarcane molasses
  • 1 teaspoon fine, sea or kosher salt
  • 355 milliliters (1 1/2 cup) heavy cream, room-temperature
  • 120 grams (1 cup)  pecans, un-toasted: halves, chopped or a combination (See Note: c.) 

 


Instructions

Date Molasses Dough

  1. Gather, measure and prepare the ingredients as listed. For the most consistent results, we recommend using metric weight measurements whenever possible.
  2. Combine the whole milk and molasses and warm to approximately 105 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees celsius). This can be done in the microwave for about 45 seconds or on the stovetop. Stir in yeast to bloom (hydrate) and set aside for 5 – minutes until frothy. (See Note: d.)
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, add 480 grams (4 cups) bread flour, salt and sugar and whisk to combine. Set aside.
  4. Add bloomed yeast mixture to the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the dough hook or large mixing bowl. Add eggs and stir to combine. 
  5. Add flour mixture to stand mixer or large mixing bowl. Knead on medium speed, or by hand, for 1 minute until dough is combined.
  6. While kneading, add butter, about 1 tablespoon at a time, scraping the bowl as necessary, until completely incorporated into the dough. Once incorporated, continue to knead the dough for 3 – 5 minutes until smooth and elastic. Dough may be slightly tacky but should not be overly sticky. If sticky, add more flour 1 tablespoon at a time. 
  7. Meanwhile, toss your chopped dates in 1 teaspoon of bread flour to prevent sticking.
  8. Incorporate the dates into the dough: Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Using your hands, press the dough down into a thick disk or rectangle. Distribute about one third of the dates over the doughs surface. Lightly press the dates into the dough. Fold the dough in half over itself to enclose the dates within. Repeat this process twice more until all of the dates have been incorporated. Shape the dough into a round before proofing. 
  9. Place the dough into a large, lightly-oiled mixing bowl. Cover the dough with a damp kitchen towel, proofing bag or plastic wrap. Allow the dough to double in size in a warm, draft-free environment, about 60 to 90 minutes. 
  10. In the meantime, prepare the Brown Sugar Filling and Sticky Toffee Sauce. 

Brown Sugar Filling

  1. Gather, measure and prepare the ingredients as listed. For the most consistent results, we recommend using metric weight measurements whenever possible.
  2. Combine butter, brown sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or medium mixing bowl. On medium speed, cream ingredients until thoroughly combined and easily spreadable, about 1 – 2 minutes. (See Note: e.) Set aside with the chopped pecans until Date Molasses Dough is proofed and the buns are ready to be shaped. 

Sticky Toffee Sauce

  1. Gather, measure and prepare the ingredients as listed. For the most consistent results, we recommend using metric weight measurements whenever possible.
  2. In a medium saucepan, melt butter, brown sugar, molasses and salt, stirring to combine. Once melted, stream in cream slowly. Bring to a simmer, stirring often to prevent burning. Once simmering, remove from heat and pour into you baking dish. Allow to cool to room-temperature before adding your shaped sticky buns. 
  3. Arrange pecans over toffee sauce in the bottom of your baking dish. After baking, the dish will be inverted and the pecans and Sticky Toffee Sauce with top your Toffee Sticky Buns. Cover your toffee sauce-filled baking dish and set aside. 

Sticky Toffee Buns

  1. Once your Date Molasses Dough is doubled in size, it is time to shape your sticky buns. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (190 degrees celsius).
  2. Punch down your dough to deflate. On a lightly floured work surface roll your dough into a large rectangle about 18 inches (or 48 centimeters) by 12 inches (30 centimeters). 
  3. Spread your creamed Brown Sugar Filling evenly across the surface of the dough leaving a small (1/4 inch – 1 centimeter) border along the edges. Sprinkle the Brown Sugar Filling chopped pecans across the filling on the dough.
  4. Starting from a longer edge, roll the dough into a spiraled log. (See Note: f.) 
  5. Using a sharp knife, slice the log of spiraled dough into 12 equal buns about 1 1/2 inches (or 4 centimeters) wide. With your hands, gently shape you sliced buns back into circles, spiral side-up. Arrange your buns over the Sticky Toffee Sauce and pecans in your baking dish. 
  6. Cover your buns in the baking dish with the pans cover, a damp dish towel, proofing bag or plastic wrap. Allow the buns to double in size in a warm, draft-free environment, about 30 – 45 minutes.
  7. Bake Sticky Toffee Buns for 25 – 35 minutes or until the dough in the center of the pan reads 190 degrees Fahrenheit (88 degrees celsius) on an instant-read thermometer. Rotate the pan halfway through baking and tent with foil to prevent burning, if necessary. 
  8. Remove from the oven and place baked Sticky Toffee Buns on a cooling rack and allow to set for about 5 minutes. Proceed to the next step while buns are still warm.
  9. With an off-set spatula or knife, loosen buns from the outer edges of the pan. To invert the buns, use oven mitts or thick, dry dish towels. Place a large sheet pan or serving platter over your baking dish and carefully invert the pan. Be cautious not to burn your hands on the hot pan or Sticky Toffee Sauce. The Sticky Toffee Sauce and pecans will glaze your buns. Enjoy warm! 

 

 

Notes

a. If you will be substituting Instant Yeast in this recipe, we recommend watching your dough very closely. Your dough will be fully proofed (risen) when your dough has doubled in size. Once doubled, you can proceed to rolling and filling your dough. If your dough does not double in size, some or all of your yeast has died and the dough must be discarded. For more information: See The Do-ughs and Don’ts of Working with Yeast text, above. 

b. There are several varieties of date, otherwise known as date palm, fruit. For this recipe, we used a variety common in the United States called deglet noor. Medjool dates are also common and will work well in this recipe. If you live in a place where other varieties are available, feel free to test them in this recipe.

c. We like to use a combination of pecan halves and chopped pecans to top our buns. The pecan halves look beautiful while the chopped pecans ensure a little pecan crunch in every bite. Feel free to use pecan halves or chopped pecans. For this recipe, we used 90 grams (3/4 cup) intact pecan halves and 30 grams (1/4 cup) of chopped pecans. 

d. If your yeast does not begin to bubble or froth after several minutes in the warm milk, it is likely dead and must be discarded. Start again with new yeast. If you will be substituting instant yeast, there is no way to test for its’ liveliness. Add instant yeast directly to your flour mixture in Date Molasses Dough – Step 3.

e. For the Brown Sugar Filling, your goal is to combine and be able to easily spread the mixture over the surface of your dough. You do not need to worry about incorporating much air when creaming, say as you would for a cake recipe. 

f. Take care not to roll your dough too tightly. Ideally, you want snugly coiled buns that have a little space to grow during the second proof. Too-tightly rolled buns will still be delicious, but the centers have a tendency to pop-up and unravel during baking.

  • Category: Brunch, Breakfast, Baked Goods
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: American, English

Keywords: Sticky Toffee Buns, Sticky Toffee Pudding, Pecan Sticky Buns, Pecan Sticky Rolls

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