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Baklava sticky buns are nutty, flaky and drenched in honey butter

Baklava sticky buns

Active time:1 hour

Total time:two o’clock


Active time:1 hour

Total time:two o’clock



A weekend baking project should be more than just something to eat – it should be a event. It should be something that involves drama and moments of doubt, but culminates in a thrilling reveal and riotous revelry.

Boy, do I have a recipe for you: These baklava-inspired sticky buns are built on a flaky dough saturated with spiced honey, which surrounds a thick swirl of warmly spiced walnuts and is loaded to the gills with “yeah, I know this is over the top.” but dagnabit it’s weekend” amounts of butter.

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The curtain rises as you stand in your kitchen, hovering above a counter with the usual suspects. Flour, of course, as well as its mates, baking powder and salt. There is rich whole milk (life is too short for skim), a lone egg and two – that’s right, two – sticks of oh-so-sweet butter. (But hold on to your hats; more butter is coming! The weekends are for letting loose, and we’re going all in, baby!)

There is no yeast, because this is not a puffy, doughy sticky bun. Our goal is flakes that split open like cavernous ravines, ready to be drenched in a deluge of honey butter. (That part comes later, but prepare for it mentally for now. We’re on an indulgent adventure.)

The dough comes together much like a good pie or cookie mix, with a few key differences. First, you’re going to be cutting your butter into thick chunks rather than breaking it into pea-sized pieces. Two, at first it won’t look like dough. It looks like a wild party of belligerent butter slices covered in beige goop. Like I said, this is a test of faith. A constant refrain of “well, that sure doesn’t look good.”

You may let self-doubt creep in, but don’t let your heart sink. What’s the fun of a weekend baking project if it all feels routine? When all is said and done, that doubt will be overcome and you will become a champion. And boy, oh boy, it will feel so good.

Your blob of butter dough is rolled and folded, then rolled and folded again. This creates wafer-thin wafer-thin strips of butter between sheets of dough, which puff up in the oven to make the flakes we want. You need to do this on a large piece of parchment paper, which will help you lift and fold it.

Keep a small bowl of extra flour on hand so that your hands and rolling pin remain generously dusted to tame the dough’s stubborn stickiness. When the dough sticks to a surface, it’s because it’s a little bit too wet. Dab a little flour on sticky spots to dry them out, just like a baby’s poop.

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Most importantly, when folding, do not worry that the dough will look beautiful. It will not. We all look like a mess as we get ready for a big, exciting event, and eating these sticky buns is nothing short of that.

After two roll-and-folds, you’ll have a relatively legitimate-looking dough with thick slivers of butter obscured but visible below the surface.

Then the dough is slathered with a honey butter that you can make in the microwave if you don’t feel like getting a pan dirty. It’s so easy to make that you’ll want to keep a jar of it in the fridge. Let the dough cool to cool the butter – warm butter is the enemy of flakes – and to give yourself a moment of self-care.

Once you’ve cooled your jets down a bit, sprinkle that glistening surface with finely chopped walnuts and cinnamon sugar. If you prefer baklava with pistachios, use pistachios instead. If you don’t like baklava at all, you can use peanuts or almonds. Any chopped nut will do.

Roll your dough into a log and shape it as best you can. This part always looks so easy on TV, but it’s rarely perfect in real life. And that’s okay. Sticky buns are supposed to be messy, right? Just do your best and don’t overdo it. Remember: we don’t want all that butter to melt, so worry more about that than making a perfect cylinder.

Cut your dough into 12 even slices. Pour the remaining honey butter into your pan and add those slices in nice little rows. Personally, I like to sleep in until 10pm on weekends and roll out of bed sometime around 11am. (I have very comfortable sheets.) This is why if I want hot sticky buns for breakfast, I put them together the day before and bake them in the morning. These (and all) sticky buns are best warm, but let them cool a bit so you don’t burn your tongue and miss out on the sweet reward of all your hard work.

Even if your sticky buns turn out to be lumpy or lopsided, they’ll taste great and you’ll be proud of yourself. Go ahead and enjoy – you’ve earned it.

Make Ahead: The buns can be formed, covered, and refrigerated up to 1 day before baking; the honey mixture can be stored at room temperature for up to 1 day.

Storage: Cover and store at room temperature for up to 1 day, or refrigerate for up to 4 days. Wrap the baked rolls tightly and freeze for up to 3 months. Reheating: Thaw in the refrigerator, if frozen, then reheat in a 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes.

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  • 4 cups (500 grams) all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 2 tablespoons of baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp fine salt
  • 2 sticks (8 ounces/227 grams) cold unsalted butter, sliced ​​1/2-inch thick
  • 1 cup (240 milliliters) plus 2 tablespoons whole milk, or more if needed
  • 1 large egg

For the honey butter and filling

  • 1 stick (4 ounces/113 grams) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups (510 grams) mild honey, divided
  • 1 teaspoon of fine salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon rose water or orange flower water, or the juice of 1 tangerine (optional)
  • 2 cups (8 ounces/227 grams) chopped walnuts, divided
  • 1/3 cup (67 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Make the dough: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the butter and mix in the flour mixture, making sure each piece is well coated and does not stick to another piece of butter.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk and egg until well combined. Add to the bowl with the flour mixture and mix gently with a wooden spoon, taking care not to completely break down the butter, until a soft dough forms. The dough will be rough, but if it’s too crumbly to hold together, add more milk 1 tablespoon at a time.

Place a large piece of parchment paper — at least 8 inches long — on the counter and place the dough in the center. Generously dust your hands with flour and knead the dough into a rectangle about 1 inch thick.

Using a floured rolling pin, roll out the dough into a rectangle 1/4 inch thick, about 18 inches long and 12 inches wide. Use the parchment paper to lift the sides (it gets messy!), fold the dough in thirds like a letter, then fold the top and bottom until they meet in the middle. Turn this folded dough over so that the seam is on the bottom so that all loose pieces are brushed in and flour is sprinkled over any naked bits of butter or other sticky spots.

Wrap the dough in parchment paper and place in the freezer to cool slightly, no longer than 5 minutes.

Lightly dust the work surface with flour. Remove the dough from the refrigerator, unwrap and, using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough into an approximately 1/4-inch-thick rectangle, about 18 inches long and 12 inches wide, and repeat the folding process. Re-wrap the dough in the parchment paper and refrigerate while you make the honey butter and walnut filling.

Make the honey butter and filling: In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter with about 1/2 cup (170 grams) of honey, stirring until smooth, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the salt, then the remaining honey, and finally the rose water and orange flower water or mandarin orange juice, if using.

Set aside about a third of the walnuts. Cut the rest into small, gravel-sized pieces and place in a small bowl. Add the sugar and cinnamon and mix to combine.

Lightly flour your workspace. Remove the dough from the refrigerator, unwrap and, using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a rectangle 1/4 inch thick, about 18 inches long and 12 inches wide. (You should be able to see streaks of butter through the dough.)

With the long side closest to you, brush the dough generously with the honey butter and drizzle evenly with the walnut-sugar mixture, leaving a border of about an inch at the top. Roll up the dough tightly from the bottom and pinch the seam closed. If the dough doesn’t close, moisten your fingertips and pinch the seam again. You may need to use a bench scraper or thin spatula to loosen the dough from the counter if it starts to stick.

Wrap the roll completely in the parchment paper, twist the ends and gently roll back and forth on the counter to even out the shape. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight.

When ready to bake, place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees.

Grease a 9 by 13 by 2 inch pan, line the bottom with parchment paper — it’s fine if a little goes up the sides — and very lightly grease the parchment as well. Pour the remaining honey butter into the bottom of the pan and sprinkle evenly with the remaining walnuts.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Using a serrated knife, cut into 12 relatively even-sized pieces, 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick, and arrange them in three rows of four. The buns should not touch each other.

Transfer to oven and bake for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 375 degrees, rotate pan, and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for at least 10 minutes before carefully inverting onto a large platter, cutting board or baking sheet. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Calories: 652; Total Fat: 37g; Saturated fat: 16 g; Cholesterol: 79mg; Sodium: 563mg; Carbohydrates: 77 g; Dietary fiber: 3 g; Sugar: 42 g; Protein: 9g

This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not replace the advice of a dietician or nutritionist.

From food writer Allison Robicelli.

Tested by Ann Maloney and Debi Suchman; email questions to voracious@washpost.com.

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