Light and fluffy sourdough sticky buns with a cinnamon filling and a sticky walnut caramel coating.
I met a friend for coffee at a bakery cafe last year and left with a great idea for another sourdough starter recipe. We both had ordered a sticky bun and my friend, a sourdough lover like me, suggested making a sourdough version. I just love converting yeasted recipes into sourdough, so here they are! Sourdough sticky buns.
What are sticky buns
Well essentially these are sourdough cinnamon rolls, baked over top of sticky caramel and nuts. When they're baked, they're tipped upside down so the caramel underside becomes the top! There's no need to ice them as that's what the caramel is for.
The sourdough bun is made from an enriched dough, with eggs and butter. It gives it a great tender texture and full flavour. It's a bit similar to my sourdough brioche dough, but with less butter and eggs.
I made them a few different times and one thing was clear- if you want a super fluffy sourdough sticky bun then you need a stiff sourdough starter.
Stiff Sourdough Starter
Stiffer starters are slower to rise than those with a higher hydration. Low hydration sourdough starter undertakes a slow but steady growth, with less risk of peaking too early. Unlike my normal sourdough starter feeding which is at 100% hydration (so equal parts water to flour), this one is fed less water than flour. It means you make a bit of a starter dough ball instead of the runnier mixture that comes with a high hydration sourdough starter.
Because of this different feeding ratio, I make a separate overnight sourdough levain for this dough. It's summer here in New Zealand so my kitchen is warm overnight. Because of this, I don't use much seed starter because I don't want it rising too fast overnight.
I use a 1:4:2 ratio (1 part starter, 4 parts flour, 2 parts water). I use 25g starter, 100g flour, 50g water. This recipe calls for 150g starter but the levain makes a little bit more than that to account for any starter stuck to the bowl that doesn’t make into the dough.
If your kitchen is cold overnight, you can halve the amounts of water and flour and change the ratios to 1:2:1; eg 50g starter, 100g flour and 50g water. This will make approximately 200g starter.
The dough is made over a period of two days and one night.
Overnight- The stiff starter is mixed.
The next day - The mixing of the dough ingredients. There is a short room temperature ferment before the dough undergoes a long cold proof in the refrigerator.
The last day- The caramel is made, the dough is rolled and cut into scrolls. The sourdough rolls are left to rise and then baked.
The Sticky Bun Dough
Once the overnight sourdough starter has risen overnight, it's time to mix the dough. You can do this by hand, or with a bench mixer. This time I am using a mixer, but there are plenty of times where I don't so don't worry if you don't have one. Below is a video of my sourdough brioche dough being mixed by hand which is actually a much trickier and wetter dough to mix than these sticky sourdough buns.
If you can't view the video here, you can try view it here on youtube instead.
Once the dough has been mixed into a shaggy clump, the butter can be kneaded in, a few pieces at a time. Afterwards, the dough will be kneaded for approximately 10 minutes until smooth. Though dough starts off sticky but just keep mixing until it becomes strong.
If you're mixing by hand and need a break, take it. The dough responds well to a bit of resting time.
The Windowpane Test
Once you think the dough has been kneaded enough, leave it to sit and relax for 5 minutes. Then, grab a piece of dough and see if you can carefully stretch it out so thin that you can almost see through it. This is called the window pane test and it shows you whether or not the gluten strands in the flour have strengthened enough.
Once kneaded, place it in a lightly greased bowl and cover it with a lid or a damp tea towel. Leave it to sit at room temperature for around 2-3 hours. If your room temperature is below 20°C (68°F), you can leave it for the 3 hours. If it's above that, you may only need to leave it out for two hours. It's not going to rise much at this point so don't worry if you don't see much of a difference in the dough yet.
Once this room temperature ferment is completed, place the covered dough bowl in the refrigerator overnight.
The Caramel and Sticky Bun Shaping
The following day, remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it sit for about 15 minutes at room temperature while you make the caramel.
Melt together the butter, sugar, honey and salt and stir until the butter has completely melted and the brown sugar has dissolved. Whisk it together, then pour it into a 23cm by 33cm (9 x 13 inch) baking tray or dish. Sprinkle over chopped walnuts (or nuts of your choice.)
Now, it's time to roll the dough and mix together the sugar and cinnamon for the filling.
Roll it out into a large 30cm by 45cm rectangle (12 by 18 inch). Brush with melted butter and spread over the cinnamon sugar mixture. Roll the dough up lengthwise into a log.
Now the buns are sliced into 12 even slices. Using unflavoured dental floss, thread or fishing line works really well to cut even slices.
These slices are then spaced evenly over the walnut caramel. Cover the dish with a damp tea towel and let the buns rise until the rolls have puffed out, so they're about 50% fatter. This can take anywhere between 3-6 hours depending on your room temperature and starter.
Baking and Serving
Once they have risen, it's time to bake the buns. Once they're baked, they'll need to be tipped upside down, out of the tray onto some parchment paper so have that set up ready to go.
The caramel will be very runny when they're straight out of the oven. Let the buns cool for a bit, then use a spoon or knife to scrape the caramel that's oozing out the sides and drizzle it back over the buns. As they cool right down, the caramel will thicken and become sticky.
It's best to wait until the buns have cooled to eat them, but if you can't wait, just know that the sugary caramel is insanely hot!
Any leftover buns can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Want more sourdough recipes? Try these!
Have you made these sourdough sticky buns? Tag me and let me know! @home_grown_happinessnz
- 25 g starter
- 100 g strong bread flour
- 50 g water
- 150 g Levain
- 450 g all-purpose flour with a protein level of around 11%
- 50 granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 8 g salt
- 125 ml milk
- 100 g unsalted butter, room temperature
- 100 g unsalted butter
- 100g (½ cup) brown sugar
- 2 Tbsp honey
- ⅛ tsp salt
- 1 ½ cups chopped walnuts, pecans, almonds or hazelnuts
- 2 Tbsp melted butter
- 100g (½ cup) brown sugar
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
The Night Before
- The night before: Mix together the levain ingredients into a dough ball. Place it into a wide jar or bowl and cover loosely with a damp tea towel or lid. Leave it to sit on the bench overnight.
- If your kitchen is cold overnight, the starter amounts may need to be changed. See the post for more details.
- The following day, in a bench mixer bowl or a large bowl, add in all the dough ingredients except for the butter. Mix it together, either with the mixer or with a fork into a shaggy dough ball.
- Now add in a few chunks of butter at a time and keep mixing to incorporate each piece.
- Use the bench mixer to knead the dough for 8-10 minutes until smooth, or knead by hand. If doing it by hand, tip the dough ball onto a clean bench and slap and fold it for approximately 10 minutes until the dough is glossy and smooth.
- Though dough starts off sticky but just keep kneading and slapping the dough down on the bench until it comes together. If you need a break, take it. The dough responds well to a bit of resting time.
- To see if the dough has been mixed enough, perform the window pane test. See the post for more details.
- Once kneaded, place it in a lightly greased bowl and cover it with a lid or a damp tea towel. Leave it to sit at room temperature for around 2-3 hours. If your room temperature is below 20°C (68°F), you can leave it for the 3 hours. If it’s above that, you may only need to leave it out for two hours. It’s not going to rise much at this point so don’t worry if you don’t see much of a difference in the dough yet.
- Once this room temperature ferment is completed, place the covered dough bowl in the refrigerator overnight.
- The following day, remove the dough from the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for 15 minutes while you make the caramel.
- Over medium-low heat, melt together the butter, sugar, honey and salt and stir until the butter has melted and the sugar dissolved. Whisk it together, then pour it into a 23cm by 33cm (9 x 13 inch) baking tray or dish. Sprinkle over chopped walnuts.
- On a lightly floured or lightly oiled bench, roll the dough into a 30cm by 45cm rectangle (12 by 18 inch). In a bowl, mix together the cinnamon and brown sugar for the filling.
- Brush the dough with melted butter and spread over the cinnamon sugar mixture. Roll the dough up lengthwise into a log.
- Slice the dough log into 12 even slices. Using unflavoured dental floss, thread or fishing line works really well to cut even slices.
- Space the buns evenly over the walnut caramel. Cover the dish with a damp tea towel and let the buns rise until the rolls have puffed out, so they’re about 50% fatter. This can take anywhere between between 3-6 hours depending on your room temperature and starter.
- Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F) regular oven (170°C or 338°F fan-bake) Prepare a sheet of parchement paper on a bench or board.
- Bake the buns for around 30-35 minutes until puffed up and golden brown. Once baked, remove the buns from the oven and carefully flip the tray upside down onto the parchment paper to remove the buns.
- The caramel will be very runny when they’re straight out of the oven. Let the buns cool for a bit, then use a spoon or knife to scrape the caramel and pecans that are oozing out the sides and drizzle it back over the buns. As they cool right down, the caramel will thicken and become sticky.
Serving Size:1 grams
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 454Total Fat: 21gSaturated Fat: 9gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 67mgSodium: 303mgCarbohydrates: 61gFiber: 2gSugar: 28gProtein: 6g