The actual definition of a sticky bun can be somewhat confusing, as most bakeries make it seem like a sticky bun is a cinnamon roll studded with nuts. Actually, a sticky bun is a breakfast roll made with an enriched (butter and sugar filled) dough, baked with a brown sugar glaze, and topped with a gooey pecan garnish. Unlike cinnamon rolls, they are not served with a cream cheese frosting, and the cinnamon levels are much more restrained. When a bakery does sticky buns well, it is well worth it to try them because not unlike like croissants, sticky buns are best made by professionals.
For the home cook, sticky buns are a hefty project to undertake, involving vast amounts of corn syrup, butter, and sugar—not to mention about five hours of kneading rich dough and wielding melted sugar. This doesn’t mean, though, that all hopes of sticky buns at home are gone. Instead, make a batch of whole-wheat pancakes and top them with a brown sugar and pecan garnish for a special weekend breakfast. Even better, these pancakes come together in less than thirty minutes but will impress everyone at the breakfast table.
The pancakes are light and airy, and the pecan topping is identical to the ones on top of bakery-style sticky buns. Tonight, make sure your stashes of pecans, flour, and brown sugar are sufficient, and get excited for a pancake you won’t forget.
Sticky Bun Pancakes
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon table salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups whole or low-fat milk
1 tablespoon white vinegar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1-2 teaspoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
¼ cup dark brown sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
¾ cup pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
Powdered sugar to serve, optional
- For the pancake batter: Whisk together the flours, sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon in a large bowl. In a separate bowl combine the milk, vinegar, egg, and butter and whisk to combine. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined. Do not over mix. Set the batter aside for 10 minutes to hydrate while you prepare the topping.
- For the topping: In a small skillet over medium heat, melt the butter, corn syrup, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt and bring to a boil, whisking until the butter is melted and all the sugar is dissolved, 2-3 minutes. Take the pan off heat, and stir in the vanilla and pecans. Set aside and keep warm while you cook the pancakes.
- To cook the pancakes: Heat ½ teaspoon vegetable oil in a 12 inch non-stick skillet over medium heat for 5 minutes. Using a paper towel, wipe the skillet, leaving only a thin film of oil in the bottom. Using a ¼ cup measure per pancake, spoon out the pancake batter into the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes, until the edges are set and bubbles form on the top. Flip the pancakes and cook for another 1-2 minutes until light golden brown on each side. Repeat with the remaining batter.
- To serve: Place a stack of pancakes on each individual plate and top with a few spoonfuls of the topping. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if using, and serve immediately.