Pillowy-soft, sweet dough swathed in buttery, warm caramel wrapped with pecans. Every year during the Holidays we make one of our favorite bread recipes, Dave's Caramel-Pecan Sticky Rolls. Festive for family breakfast and brunch, follow along as we craft our sticky rolls with love and serve them hot out of the oven.
The sticky roll is an American icon found in bakeries, donut shops, and coffee shops throughout the land. They are especially popular during the Holidays when we gather for breakfast and brunch with family and friends. A sticky roll is familiar, full of comforting tastes and big breakfast flavors. While the name, sticky roll, sounds pretty basic, Dave's Caramel-Pecan Sticky Rolls stand above the crowd. The key is to use simple ingredients, along with our tips and easy steps for crafting the dough and the caramel.Jump to Recipe
The dough for sticky rolls is called "sweet dough." The base of the dough is bread flour. It's milled differently from all-purpose flour, giving rolls a soft, pillowy texture. Sweet doughs also include egg and sugar for flavor. The next ingredient we use may surprise you, dry milk powder.
Dry milk is often forgotten these days. But home bakers and pastry chefs know the difference dry Dry milk powder gives baked goods like sweet breads, muffins and rolls a soft texture with sweet, dairy flavor. You can substitute fresh milk or cream, just refer to an online table for the correct ratio of wet dairy to dry.
This dough couldn't be easier. We start by "blooming the yeast" in warm water in the bowl of a mixer. You should immediately smell the aroma of the yeast starting to wake up. In about 5 minutes, you'll notice little blooms starting to pop-up on the surface of the water. This shows the yeast is becoming alive, a good sign the rolls will rise properly.
A stand mixer is the best tool for mixing the dough. You mix the ingredients together, then the dough hook attachment does the kneading for you. Don't try to do the kneading by hand, it's a tough job that takes time, so let the mixer does the work for you.
The first rise, the caramel and the second rise-
Letting dough rise is easy so don't stress. It's a natural process that takes time, so that's why we say "let rise in a warm place until doubled," and "about 3 hours." We place the dough on a kitchen table when the house is at about 72.
You can also turn on your oven to 250, and place the dough tub on the stovetop. Just go by the "when doubled in size" rule before going to the next step. We use a plastic bread rising tub with a lid. Just place the dough in the tub, then loosely place the lid on top. We want some air to get into the tub, so don't seal it tight. Natural humidity will be created as the warm dough works its magic and rises.
Making caramel puts the fear into our minds, but this caramel is easy to make. We don't need to use a candy thermometer to cook it to a certain degree. This caramel is simply a mixture of butter and brown sugar. The heat of the oven during baking cooks the caramel as it becomes sweet, thick and gooey.
The rolls go on top of the warm caramel for the "second rise." Just cover the rolls with a soft kitchen towel and let them sit again to rise until doubled, about one hour. Now we're ready to bake.
Bake until bubbly-
Use a heavy baking dish for the Caramel-Pecan Sticky Rolls. It retains consistent heat better than a glass or metal baking dish, and makes for a beauty of a presentation. If you want to be dramatic, bring the baking dish to the Christmas table and serve the rolls, picking up the soft rolls and sticky caramel with pecans. And extra spoons of hot caramel over the top.
Try our recipe for Pecan-Praline Coffee Cake Braid for Christmas morning breakfast-
The Caramel-Pecan Sticky Rolls can be cooled and store in a sealed container. The next day just put them into the microwave for about 35 seconds to melt the caramel. Or wrap in foil and bake in a 350 oven about 20 minutes.
The local bakery might offer a good sticky roll, but nothing beats Dave's Caramel-Pecan Sticky Rolls served hot out of your home oven all gooey, buttery, nutty, and dripping with sticky caramel. Coffee or champagne are the beverage of choice.
Dave's Caramel-Pecan Sticky Rolls
Pillowy-soft, sweet dough swathed in buttery, warm caramel and wrapped with pecans. Every year during the Holidays we make one of our favorite bread recipes, Dave's Caramel-Pecan Sticky Rolls, for family breakfast and brunch. Easy-to-make with just a few ingredients, made with love and hot out of the oven, they beat the best sticky rolls from your local bakery.
For the dough and filling-
- ¾ cup warm water, 105-110 degrees
- 1 envelope dry yeast
- 4 tbsp. softened butter
- 1 large egg
- 1 tbsp. dry milk powder
- 2 ½ cups bread flour
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ½ tsp. salt
- 6 tbsp. melted butter
- ½ cup dark brown sugar
- ½ tsp. cinnamon
- ⅛ tsp. ground cloves
- ¼ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
For the caramel and nuts-
- 10 tbsp. butter
- 1 cup dark brown sugar
- 2 tbsp. light corn syrup
- 1 cup chopped pecans
Make the dough-
Pour the warm water into the bowl of a heavy mixer with the dough hook attached. Sprinkle the yeast over the water and stir to combine. Allow the yeast to start to activate and bubble, about 5 minutes.
Add the softened butter, egg, dry milk, 2 cups of the bread flour, salt and pepper. Attach the dough hook and begin to combine the ingredients. The dough will be soft and sticky. Add additional flour just until the dough forms a very soft ball. Knead in the mixer until soft and elastic, about 8 minutes. Spray a large plastic tub with cooking spray and turn the dough into the tub. Loosely place the lid on the tub and place the dough in a warm place to rise and double in size. The dough should double in size in about 3 hours.
Flour a work surface and turn the dough out of the bowl. Roll the dough into a rectangle about 10" x 14" and ⅓" thick. Brush the dough with the melted butter and sprinkle with the dark brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Beginning at the long edge, slowly roll-up the dough into a log. Pinch the ends of the dough log to seal the edges. Cut the dough log into 8 equal size rolls.
Make the caramel and bake the rolls-
Heat a saucepan over medium heat. Add the butter and melt. Once the butter is melted, stir in the brown sugar and corn syrup. Let the caramel come to a simmer and cook for 3 minutes. Pour the caramel into the baking dish and sprinkle the chopped pecans over the top. Place the sliced rolls on top of the pecans and caramel. Cover and let the rolls rise again until doubled, about one hour.
Heat the oven to 325. Bake the rolls just until they start to turn golden brown, about 20 minutes. Remove the baking pan from the oven. Use a spatula to place the rolls on top of the cookie rack placed over a baking sheet. Spoon any caramel and nuts left in the baking pan over the top of the rolls. Serve the rolls warm while the caramel is still hot and sticky.
These Caramel-Pecan Sticky Rolls are easy to re-heat the next day. Put them in the microwave and give about 30 seconds to re-melt the caramel. Or wrap in foil and re-heat in a 350 oven for about 20 minutes.