These warmly spiced cinnamon caramel pecan rolls are loaded with buttery, salty-sweet, crunchy goodness for a morning treat that’s sure to start your day off right.
📖 Recipe Overview
- The Perfect Weekend Baking Project - If your ideal weekend plans include some kind of delicious kitchen project, this recipe for pecan sticky buns should go on your shortlist. With a yeasted dough that requires several rises (plus the option to make overnight sticky buns), these tasty treats are the perfect way to go full hygge at home.
- Made With Only 12 Simple Ingredients - It’s amazing that from-scratch pecan caramel cinnamon rolls can be made with primarily pantry ingredients!
- Fluffy, Sticky Perfection - Honestly, there’s nothing better than a pecan sticky roll to pair with a cup of coffee or tea on a Sunday morning.
🧾 Ingredients Needed
As promised, you only need simple, easy-to-find ingredients for this vegan pecan sticky bun recipe. Here’s what to grab:
- Vegan Buttermilk - Making your own is as simple as mixing unsweetened soy milk with apple cider vinegar.
- Vegan Butter - Make sure you reach for block-style butter, not the spreadable kind that comes in a tub.
- Instant Yeast - If you are using active dry yeast instead of instant, it will need to be activated first. To activate, add the yeast to warm buttermilk with a spoonful of sugar and stir. Once the mixture begins bubbling and foaming (about 5-10 minutes), it’s ready.
- Sea Salt - Adding a decent amount of sea salt helps to balance the flavors and enhance the caramel. If needed, you can swap in pink salt or kosher salt, but avoid iodized table salt which can leave a bitter aftertaste.
- Pure Maple Syrup - I love the faint hint of maple flavor this gives the caramel, but you’re welcome to use agave nectar instead.
- Pecans - If you’re on a tight budget, do your wallet a favor and opt for pecan pieces or chopped pecans instead of fancy pecan halves.
🥣 How To Make Vegan Sticky Buns
Although there are a few stages to making this sticky buns recipe, you can spread out the work-load over 2 days and get the dough prepped the night before if you like! Here's how they are made:
Step 1: Combine the wet and dry ingredients to make a shaggy dough. Turn the dough out onto a clean dry surface and knead for 5-7 minutes until it forms a smooth ball. Place the dough into a clean bowl lightly greased with some oil. Cover the top of the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and place it in a warm part of your kitchen to proof for 1-2 hours.
Step 2: For the caramel topping, add the vegan butter, brown sugar, maple syrup, vanilla, and sea salt to a saucepan and gently heat whilst stirring for a couple of minutes until you have an even mixture and all of the ingredients have melted through.
Step 3: Pour the caramel mixture into the base of a greased cake tin, and sprinkle the pecans on top. Set this aside to cool completely.
Step 4: For the cinnamon sugar filling, mix together the softened butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon until they form a paste. Set aside.
Step 5: After the first proof, the dough should be doubled in size. Punch the dough to knock out the air.
Step 6: Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface into a large rectangle. Then spread the cinnamon filling on top in an even layer.
Step 7: Tightly roll the dough into a log and mark out 9 portions. Use unflavoured toothfloss to slowly cut them into sections.
Step 8: Place the rolls in the greased baking pan, on top of the caramel nut mixcover nature. Cover, and let them rest for the second proof until they become light and puffy.
Step 9: Bake the cinnamon sticky buns in a preheated oven until they are browned on top.
Step 10: Place a rimmed baking tray or large plate on top of the cake pan. Very carefully flip the pan over, and slowly lift the pan away from the buns.
- Swap in a different nut. If pecans aren’t your favorite, try swapping in another variety of nuts, such as walnuts, flaked almonds, or even peanuts.
- Bourbon sticky buns - Add 1-2 tablespoons of bourbon or whiskey to the caramel mixture so a hint of pecan pie flavor.
- Go nut-free. If you can’t eat nuts, try making plain sticky caramel rolls instead.
Both are tasty morning treats, but there are a few key differences. Sticky buns are baked upside down in a salty-sweet caramel sauce that turns all gooey and delicious in the oven. Plus, they're often rocking some crunchy nuts, like pecans, in the mix. Then, when you turn them out of the pan, the nutty caramel mixture cascades down the sides, much like a pineapple upside down cake.
Cinnamon rolls, on the other hand, are all about that cozy cinnamon and sugar swirl. You might find some basic icing or cream cheese frosting on top, but they're not nearly as sticky as their sticky bun brethren.
No, I don't recommend that you freeze them. Rather, tightly cover any leftover rolls, or place them into an airtight container. They will keep at room temperature for 2 days, or you can refrigerate them for up to 5 days. Take them out of the fridge an hour before serving to let them soften.
I did a rigorous test to discover which plant-based milk makes the best buttermilk, and soy was the hands-down winner. That said, if you can’t do soy, try swapping in another high-protein alternative like pea milk. Almond milk and oat milk are also options, they just don’t end up quite as fluffy!
🍞 More Vegan Brunch Recipes
Pecan Caramel Topping
- 60 g (7 ½ tbsp) vegan butter (block-style), softened *see note 3
- 60 g (⅓ cup) brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- Please read the recipe thoroughly before getting started. For the most accurate results, measure with a digital kitchen scale.
- Preparation: Make a batch of vegan buttermilk. Slowly melt the vegan butter (for the dough) in a saucepan over low heat or in the microwave. Be careful not to heat it, you just want to warm it enough to melt. Lightly grease an 8x8-inch cake pan or similar with some oil or vegan butter and set aside.
- Make the dough: Add the melted butter and vanilla extract to the vegan buttermilk and mix. In a separate large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt.Pour the buttermilk mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients and use a spatula to bring the mixture together into a shaggy dough.
- Knead: (By hand) Turn the dough out onto a clean dry surface. Knead the dough for 5-7 minutes until it forms a smooth ball. DON'T be tempted to flour the surface, the dough will be very sticky at the start but it will come together once ready. If it gets too messy, you can wash and dry your hands halfway through the process. A dough scraper is also very useful to frequently scrape up any dough that sticks to the surface.
- 1st proof: Clean and dry the bowl and lightly grease it with some oil. Place the dough ball into the bowl and cover the top of the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Place in a warm part of your kitchen to proof for 1-2 hours until the dough has puffed up and doubled in size. Meanwhile, prepare the topping and filling.
- Topping: Add the butter, brown sugar, maple syrup, vanilla, and sea salt to a saucepan and gently heat whilst stirring for a couple of minutes until you have an even mixture and all of the ingredients have melted through.Pour the caramel into the base of the cake tin, and sprinkle the pecans on top. Set this aside to cool.
- Filling: In a bowl, mix together the softened butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon until they form a paste. Set aside.
- Once the dough has doubled in size, punch the air out of it + roll it out on a lightly floured surface into a large rectangle (about 12”x 14”).
- Fill, roll + slice: Carefully spread the cinnamon filling mixture in a thin layer using a spatula - going all the way to the edges. Carefully and tightly roll the dough into a log. Mark the log into 9 portions. Use unflavoured toothfloss to cut them into sections, with slow and steady pressure. You can also use a very sharp knife - but floss works best!
- 2nd proof: Place the rolls in the cake pan on top of the cooled pecan caramel mixture + cover the plastic wrap or foil. Let them proof in a warm place for 1-2 hours until they rise and double in size.Alternatively, to make overnight sticky buns you can place them in the fridge for up to 24 hours at this stage. Then take them out to sit at room temperature for about 2 hours, or until they double in size.
- Bake: Preheat the oven to 175°C(347°F). Bake for 28-30 minutes until the tops are light golden brown. Cool slightly for 15 minutes, then carefully run a knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the buns.
- Place a rimmed baking tray or large plate on top of the cake pan - it needs to have a wider diameter than the cake pan to catch the caramel sauce. Be very careful not to burn yourself for this next part as the pan will still be very hot. Using oven gloves, very carefully flip the pan over, and slowly lift the pan away from the buns. The buns should easily free from the pan and the caramel sauce will flow out over the top of them.Serve them warm, or let them cool to room temperature first if preferred.
- Storage: Tightly cover any leftover rolls, or place them into an airtight container. They will keep at room temperature for 2 days, or you can refrigerate them for up to 5 days. Take them out of the fridge an hour before serving to let them soften.
- I recommend measuring with a scales. If you must measure with cups make sure to measure your flour correctly.
- Yeast: This recipe calls for instant dry yeast, if you are using active yeast, it will need to be activated first. to activate, add the yeast to warm buttermilk with a spoonful of sugar and stir. Once the mixture begins bubbling and foaming (about 5-10 minutes), it’s ready.
- The butter for the filling needs to be quite soft to help it spread nicely without damaging the structure of the dough. I recommend taking it out of the fridge at least an hour ahead.
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