These sticky, sticky buns are stuffed with walnuts and cinnamon sugar, then rolled to perfection. The glaze, with a subtle hint of orange zest makes it IMPOSSIBLE to eat just one!
Sometimes I’m just not feeling food photography. Like today. I’m not feeling it. Not feeling it at all. I woke up thinking, I’m making sticky buns and putting them on the blog; however, when it was time to photograph these bad boys… I just wasn’t feeling it.
And it sucks, ‘ya know? Because when I’m not feeling my photos, and words fail me, there’s no way to describe what making these sticky buns mean to me.
How can I show you, I love playing with yeasted dough? Because it’s alive. Because I love watching it rise. How can I show you, I love kneading dough because it helps me think. How to show you, I loved zesting an orange with my trusty Microplane and mixing it into this sticky bun dough?
Yeah… When you’re not feeling food photography, a lot get’s lost in translation. As a food blogger, you’re expected to supply your readers (You know, your mom and cousin), with mouthwatering photos.
And today, I got nothin’.
These photos are not beautiful. They weren’t beautifully composed.
They’re not perfect and mouthwatering. They’re just not. Because today, I wasn’t feeling it. I allowed myself to get lost in the act of making these sticky buns. In the dough mix, in the rise, in the punch down – A punch down that’s not really a punch, but a press. I got lost in rolling a perfect rectangle on my kitchen counter, the counter with the shitty lighting. I wasn’t feeling like transferring my perfect rectangle 15 feet towards my window. It would have ruined the rectangle.
I got lost in melted butter spread with my trusty OXO brush, then the spread of cinnamon sugar and walnuts. I got lost in the perfect roll, followed by the perfect cut. I just didn’t feel like photographing it all. I got lost in buttering and lightly sprinkling cinnamon sugar in my cast iron skillet and lovingly placing my newly cut sticky buns on top of all that buttery, sugary goodness.
I got lost in the scent of cinnamon, orange, and brown sugar as these buns baked. I wasn’t feeling the photography aspect of the thing. And I know it’s what I signed up for, but I wasn’t feeling it. I just wanted to bake some buns. I wanted to mix a thick, thick glaze with a hint of orange and a crapload of vanilla bean paste. I wanted to glaze those buns the second they came out of the oven. And I did.
And these photos don’t do these buns justice. Because I just wasn’t feeling the whole photography composition situation. I realize that yes, I want to give you pretty photos – But I want to show you real food too. Food you can feel, food you can make. I want you to see that not everything that comes out of my kitchen is picture perfect. It isn’t. It’s hella messy sometimes. But it’s real. It’s me. And it’s delicious. And you should make these sticky buns because it will be the realest thing to come out of your oven, the realest thing to tantalize your taste buds.
Just take my word for it.
Cinnamon Walnut Sticky Buns
- For the yeast
- warm water (not warmer than 105 degrees Fahrenheit) - 1/4 cup
- Active dry yeast - 1/4 ounce (about 1 scant tablespoon)
- Granulated sugar - 2 teaspoons
- For the dough
- all purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup then leveled - 4 1/4 cups
- unsalted butter at room temperature - 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick)
- light brown sugar, packed - 1/3 cup
- salt - 1 1/4 teaspoon
- Yeast mixture
- egg yolks - 3 large
- milk - 3/4 cup (6 ounces)
- finely grated orange zest - 1 tablespoon
- For the filling
- light brown sugar, tightly packed - 3/4 cup
- ground cinnamon - 1 1/2 tablespoons
- unsalted butter plus more for your baking vessel - 4 tablespoons (half a stick)
- chopped walnuts - 1 1/4 cup
- For the glaze
- confectioners' sugar - 2 cups
- milk - 1/3 cup
- finely grated orange zest - 1/4 teaspoon
- vanilla bean paste - 1 1/2 teaspoons
For the yeast:
In a small bowl, combine warm water, yeast, and sugar. Stir to dissolve the yeast as best you can and set aside until yeast is foamy. This should take about minutes or so.
Make the dough:
In a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add 4 cups of flour, butter, brown sugar, and salt. Mix on low for a few seconds to combine. Stop the mixer and add the yeast mixture, eggs yolks, milk, and orange zest. Mix on medium to combine. Scrape the dough from the mixer and dump onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until the dough, sprinkling the remaining 1/4 cup of flour as needed until dough is smooth and elastic. The dough should feel slightly tacky to the touch, but not sticky, about 5-7 minutes. Alternatively, you can mix the dough in your stand mixer using a dough hook over medium speed until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Butter a large bowl, and shape the dough into a ball. Place the ball of dough inside the bowl and turn it a couple of times to coat with butter. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap of a damp dish towel and allow it to rise for about an hour in a warm place until doubled in volume. This may take longer if your area is not warm. While your dough is rising, make the filling:
Make the filling:
In a medium bowl combine the brown sugar and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Remove about 1/4 cup of cinnamon sugar and set aside. Melt the butter and have the chopped walnuts ready.
Cut the buns:
Remove dough from the bowl and turn onto a lightly floured surface. Press the dough down with your hands and shape it into a rough square. Roll the dough into a 12x18 rectangle,lifting the dough every so often to make sure it doesn't stick. Lightly sprinkle flour as needed. If your rectangle is longer or shorter than 12x18, don't sweat it. Brush the dough with melted butter, then sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture. Top with walnuts.
Starting from the long side, roll the dough into a cylinder. Place the dough seam side down onto your surface and cut into about 15 slices.
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Heavily butter either a 12 inch cast iron skillet or a 9x13 pyrex dish. Sprinkle the reserved 1/4 of cinnamon sugar. Place the dough slices, cut side down on the skillet or pyrex dish. You can crowd them, it's ok. Cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap and allow to rise slightly in a warm place for about 30 minutes.
Bake the buns:
Place the buns in the preheated oven and bake until the tops are golden brown, about 25-30 minutes. About 5 minutes before the buns are due to come out of the oven, make the glaze.
Make the glaze:
In a medium bowl, combine the confectioners' sugar, milk, orange zest, and vanilla bean paste. Mix until smooth and combined.
Glaze the buns:
Remove buns from the oven and allow to cool slightly, about 5 minutes or so. You can either remove the buns from the cast iron skillet or pyrex dish and glaze, or you can glaze in the vessel. Whatever floats your boat. Spoon or spread the glaze on top of the buns. Go in on those bad boys.
Sticky buns are best eaten the day they're made, but if you plan eating them the next day, place in the microwave for a few seconds to soften.
Adapted from Simply Recipes