Pennsylvania Dutch Sticky Buns
Amish sticky buns are another popular PA Dutch baked good that you will find in many Amish bakeries, especially in Lancaster County, PA.
These cinnamon sticky buns are yeast buns that are baked over the top of pecans and a caramel glaze. And when they are finished baking, the pan gets inverted, causing the sticky caramel sauce to drizzle down over the buns.
They are finger-licking yummy and so good with a morning cup of coffee!
What is the Difference Between Sticky Buns and Cinnamon Rolls?
Cinnamon rolls and sticky buns are both made from a sweet yeast dough that gets butter, sugar, and cinnamon between the layers of the roll.
But sticky buns are baked in a pan with nuts and caramel glaze on the bottom. Then they’re flipped after baking, so the gooey bottom becomes the topping.
While cinnamon rolls usually don’t have nuts, and they are slathered with frosting.
But they are both equally delicious, in my opinion. It just depends if you love nuts and caramel glaze versus a cinnamon roll with frosting.
Easy Caramel Sticky Buns
These Amish country sticky buns are not hard to make. They do, however, take a couple of hours from start to finish since you need to let them rest for a while allowing the dough to rise.
But don’t let that deter you from making these amazing sticky buns. They are well worth the time. And while they are rising, you are free to get other chores done around the house.
It should only take about 30 – 40 minutes of hands-on time. And even though there are a lot of details, they are easy to make.
Scalding the Milk
Why do I Need to Scald the Milk? Scalding the milk denatures or unravels the whey proteins. This makes milk a better food for yeast, which means faster proofing, a larger volume, and a fluffier product. It also makes a smoother dough with better moisture retention.
So, if a recipe with yeast tells you to scald the milk, there’s usually a good reason for it.
Therefore, you want to start your sticky bun dough by scalding the milk. This simply means that you need to heat the milk in a saucepan until a skin begins to form on the top (about 170 degrees). It does not need to boil.
Then set the milk aside to cool. It needs to be lukewarm (about 110 degrees) before adding it to the yeast. Because it will kill the yeast if it is too hot.
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How to Make Pennsylvania Sticky Buns
In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in warm water. (I use my Kitchen-Aid mixer.) Allow it to rest for a couple of minutes, then add the lukewarm milk, sugar, oil, salt, egg, and 3 cups of flour. With the whisk attachment, beat until smooth.
Now remove the whisk attachment and use the dough hook to knead. Continue adding the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, while kneading for a couple of minutes, until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
If you do not have a large mixer, turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface. Continue adding flour and kneading with the heel of your hand until it’s smooth and elastic.
You don’t want the dough to be too sticky, but you also don’t want to add too much flour.
Place the dough into a well-greased bowl and cover with a dish towel. Set it in a warm place to rise for about an hour or until doubled in size.
Sticky Bun Caramel Topping
To make the caramel glaze, heat the butter, brown sugar, and water in a saucepan until melted. Remove from the heat and stir in the corn syrup (or molasses if preferred).
Divide this mixture between two greased 9 x 13″ baking pans (or you can use 3 round cake pans). Spread it evenly across the bottom and sprinkle with pecans.
Roll the Dough
Punch the dough down and knead it a few times. Divide the dough in half, and place one half onto a floured work surface.
With a rolling pin, roll the dough into about a 12 x 14″ rectangle. Spread half of the softened butter onto the dough, followed by half of the brown sugar, and sprinkle the cinnamon over the top. (Or you can mix the cinnamon and sugar if preferred.)
Starting with the long side, roll up the dough like a jelly roll. (You can moisten the outside edge with a bit of cold water before closing it to give a better seal.)
Repeat the same process with the second half of the dough.
With the seam side down, cut each roll into 12 slices (about 1″ thick). Use a sharp serrated edge knife with a sawing motion to avoid smashing the roll.
Place the rolls slightly apart over the top of the nuts and caramel glaze. Cover loosely and set in a warm place to rise until doubled in size. It takes about 45 minutes to an hour. (Or you can refrigerate them overnight.)
Bake for about 22 – 25 minutes.
Overnight Sticky Buns
These sticky buns can be refrigerated overnight and baked in the morning so that you can enjoy fresh warm Amish sticky buns with your coffee. They are never better than warm from the oven.
So if you want to wait till morning to bake them, make the sticky buns, place them in the pans, cover them with plastic wrap, and refrigerate them overnight.
Remove the buns from the refrigerator the next morning and allow them to come back to room temperature and finish rising before baking.
Can I Freeze PA Dutch Sticky Buns?
Yes, you can freeze these Amish sticky buns. And they can be frozen before or after baking.
I typically freeze mine after baking them, because it is very handy to pull a few sticky buns from the freezer, give them a half-hour or so to thaw, and then enjoy them. They still taste like the day I made them.
This recipe makes a large batch. So unless you are making them for a crowd or to share with others, I recommend freezing some for later.
Sticky buns are the best when they are fresh. And whenever baked goods sit at room temperature for a couple of days they start to dry out.
They are amazing on the first day! They are still good on the second day. But by the third day, they really need to be warmed in the microwave for about thirty seconds to soften them up a bit again.
So, I recommend that you freeze whatever won’t get eaten within two days. Wrap them tightly, either individually or in the amount that you think you’ll want to get out at one time. Place them in an airtight container and freeze them for up to three months.
I always wrap and place my baked goods into the freezer while they are still slightly warm because it helps to retain the moisture.
And if you freeze them before baking, you will need to let them thaw in the refrigerator overnight and then let them rise at room temperature before baking them.
Sticky Buns with Raisins
You don’t have to use pecans to make Amish sticky buns.
You can substitute the pecans for walnuts or even raisins. Or better yet, add raisins and nuts.
And if you don’t care for nuts or raisins, you can make them with just caramel glaze and not add anything else.
More Amish Baked Goods to Enjoy with a Morning Cup of Coffee…
Amish Sticky Buns Recipe
- 1/2 c. warm water
- 2 pkg. (equals 2 scant Tbsp.) active dry yeast
- 2 c. lukewarm whole milk, scalded then cooled
- 1/3 c. sugar
- 1/2 c. canola or vegetable oil
- 2 tsp. salt
- 1 large egg
- 6 1/2 – 7 c. bread flour or all-purpose flour
- 2/3 c. brown sugar (or white sugar)
- 3 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/2 c. butter, softened
- 2 c. brown sugar
- 2 sticks butter (1/2 lb.)
- 2 Tbsp. water
- 1/4 c. Karo corn syrup
- 2 c. pecans (halves or chopped)
- Begin by scalding the milk. (Heat it in a saucepan until a skin forms on the top.) Remove from the heat and set it aside to cool. It needs to be lukewarm before adding it to the yeast (approx. 110°).2 c. lukewarm whole milk, scalded then cooled
- In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in warm water. Let it set for a few minutes until frothy.1/2 c. warm water, 2 pkg. (equals 2 scant Tbsp.) active dry yeast
- Add the warm milk, sugar, oil, salt, egg, and 3 c. flour. Beat until smooth.1/3 c. sugar, 1/2 c. canola or vegetable oil, 2 tsp. salt, 1 large egg
- Continue adding the remaining flour, 1/2 c. at a time. Knead with a dough hook (or your hands) for several minutes until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and it is smooth and elastic.6 1/2 – 7 c. bread flour or all-purpose flour
- Place the dough into a greased bowl and cover lightly. Set in a warm place to rise for about an hour or until doubled in size.
- Punch the dough down, knead for a bit, and divide it in half.
- Place one half onto a floured surface and roll it into approx. 12 x 14" rectangle.
- Spread half of the butter over the top. Then spread with half of the brown sugar and cinnamon.2/3 c. brown sugar (or white sugar), 1/2 c. butter, softened, 3 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
- Starting with the long side, roll the dough like a jelly roll. (You can moisten the outside edge with wet fingertips to create a better seal.)
- Repeat the process with the second half of the dough.
- Using a sharp serrated edge knife, cut each roll into 12 (about 1") pieces.
- Place the rolls, slightly apart, on top of the caramel and pecans.
- Cover lightly, and set in a warm place to rise again (about 50 minutes to an hour) until about doubled in size.
- Preheat the oven to 350° and bake the rolls for about 23 – 25 minutes. (You can insert a toothpick into the middle and if the dough doesn't stick, they should be finished.)
- Remove from the oven and place a slightly larger pan or heat-proof tray on top of the rolls and carefully invert the pan to flip out the buns. Let it rest for a moment to allow the caramel glaze to drizzle over the rolls.
- Serve the rolls warm. Or cover tightly and store at room temperature for up to three days.
- I recommend that you wrap and freeze any buns that won't get eaten within two days, to keep them fresh.
- Heat butter, brown sugar, and water in a saucepan until melted. Remove from the heat and add the corn syrup. Stir to mix.2 c. brown sugar, 2 sticks butter (1/2 lb.), 2 Tbsp. water, 1/4 c. Karo corn syrup
- Divide the caramel sauce into two greased 9 x 13" baking pans.
- Sprinkle with pecans, and place the rolls over the top.2 c. pecans (halves or chopped)