The Fresh Loaf

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Whole Wheat Cinnamon Rolls & Sticky Buns

Whole Wheat Cinnamon Rolls & Sticky Buns


I make these for breakfast every so often. They’re 100% whole wheat, but, really, you’d not know it, especially if you use buttermilk in the dough. That’s not to say that they’re exactly healthy, but however detrimental they may be to the body, these warm sticky buns are awfully good for the soul on a grey and chilly weekend morning.

Dough Formula
Whole wheat flour: 100%
Milk or buttermilk: 58%
Egg: 12.4%
Honey: 18.8%
Butter, melted: 6.2%
Salt: 2%
Instant yeast: 1.3%

Dough Ingredients

Whole wheat flour: 450 grams; 3-4 cups
Lukewarm buttermilk or milk: 275 grams; 1.25 cups
Egg: 1 large, lightly beaten
Honey: 85 grams or 1/4 cup
Butter, melted: 28 grams or 2 Tbs
Salt: 9 grams or 1.25 tsp
Instant yeast: 6 grams or 2 tsp

Filling ingredients

Brown sugar: 210 grams or 1 cup packed
Egg White: 1 large
Cinnamon: 14 grams or 2 Tbs
Salt: Just a pinch
Currants or raisins: 100 g; or 2/3 cup
Chopped pecans or walnuts: 60 grams or ½ cup

Sticky Bun Topping Ingredients
Brown sugar: 140 grams; 5 ounces; 2/3 cup packed
Cinnamon: 2 to 3 grams; 1 tsp
White flour: 3-4 grams or 1 tsp
Salt: Just a pinch
Melted butter: 56 grams; 2 ounces; 4 Tbs
Corn Syrup, honey or brown rice syrup: 39 grams; 1 3/8 ounces; 2 Tbs
Chopped pecans: 106 grams; 3.75 ounces; 1 cup

Cinnamon Roll Glaze

Powdered sugar: 120 grams or 1 cup
Lemon juice, milk or water: 15-30 grams or 1-2 Tbs

If the honey's cold, I like to put the butter and honey in the same bowl and heat it for about 1 minute on medium power in the microwave. But, however you do it, first mix the milk, egg, honey and butter. Mix the flour, salt and yeast in a separate bowl, and then add to the liquids. Mix until everything is hydrated. If you wish, you can knead the traditional way now, or do as I do and use the stretch and fold method starting at 1/2 hour after mixing, and doing two more folds 20 minutes apart.

You may have to adjust the flour or add some water -- the dough should be tacky, but not sticky. In any case, if you've kneaded, the dough will be ready in 60-90 minutes and, if you've done the stretch and fold, it'll be done in about 2 hours.

Filling and Topping
Meanwhile, for the filling, mix everything together until smooth except the dried fruit.

If you’re making sticky buns, mix the topping ingredients except for the pecans. Corn syrup will give you a better consistency for the topping because it prevents the sugar from crystallizing, but I don't often have it on hand, and have had good results with both the alternate ingredients.

If you’re making cinnamon rolls, you can mix up the glaze now and cover it, or you can wait until the buns are just about to come out of the oven. Start with 1 Tbs of lemon juice, milk or water (I really like the flavor that lemon juice gives to the glaze) and stir it, adding more liquid until you get the consistency you like.

Grease a 9x13 inch pan. If you’re making sticky buns, spread the topping on the bottom of the pan, placing the pecans on top.

Then, on a lighlty floured surface, roll out the dough into a rectangle that's roughly 12x16 inches. Spread the filling over the dough, leaving a margin of about an inch or so on the top and bottom edges. Scatter the dried fruit and the nuts over the filling.

Roll the dough into a log and then, using a serrated knife or some dental floss, divide the log in half. Next, cut the two halves in half. Finally, divide each of these sections into three so you end up with 12 buns. Place the buns in the pan.

If you want your buns now, let them rise for about an hour or so until they're just barely touching each other, and then bake. But, if you want to bake them the next morning, simply cover the pan tightly with plastic or aluminum foil, and pop them in the refrigerator or a cold room (if it’s in the 40s or 50s, I sometimes just put them outside). The next morning, you may want to let them warm up for about 1 hour before baking, but I find mine are usually ready to go into the oven right away. You’ll know they’re ready when the buns are touching each other and are about 50% bigger than they when you shaped them.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. When they are baked, for sticky buns, put foil or parchment paper over the top of the pan, and quickly invert it onto a cooling rack. Scrape any topping left in the pan on top of the buns.

For cinnamon buns, leave the rolls in the pan and drizzle the glaze over them with a fork or a spoon.

They should probably cool for 20-30 minutes before you dig in, but I'll leave that to your discretion.