Adapted from a variety of places, including America’s Test Kitchen and Flour Bakery
Makes 12 buns
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 ½ cups packed dark brown sugar
¼ cup honey
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1 pinch sea salt
1. Stir together all the ingredients in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring mixture to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for five minutes and remove from heat. Pour the glaze into a 9×13 inch-baking pan with high borders. Let cool to room temperature then cover until later use.
4 large eggs, room temperature
¾ cup milk
¼ cup white sugar
1 ¼ teaspoons sea salt
2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
3 ½-4 ¼ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1. In the bowl of a standing mixer, add the eggs and half the sugar. Microwave the milk until just warm to the touch. Whisk the remaining sugar, salt, and yeast into the milk and let stand for five minutes to ensure that the yeast is good. (It should foam.) Add the milk mixture, the butter, and 3 ½ cups of the flour to the standing mixer. Fit the mixer with a dough hook and churning on medium speed until a ball of dough forms. Sprinkle with flour as needed, or until the ball separates from the sides of the bowl about 5-8 minutes. Transfer to an oiled metal bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Cover, additionally, with a dishtowel and place the bowl somewhere warm to proof for 4 hours.
Cinnamon Sugar Filling
¾ cup light brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 pinch of salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
1. Take the proofed dough and turn out onto a floured surface. Kneed a couple time and sprinkle with flour until the dough is still sticky, but workable. Roll the dough into a 16 by 12 inch rectangle about ¼ of an inch thing. Spread the dough with the tablespoon of butter. Whisk together the sugar, cinnamon, and salt and sprinkle evenly over the dough. Roll the dough up into a spiral log. Stretch the dough into an 18-inch cylinder. Cut the dough with a serrated knife into 12 portions. (For easy cutting, cut the log in half, then in quarters, then cut each quarter into thirds.) Arrange the 12 portions, cut side down for the two end buns, in the baking pan with the glaze, three rows by 4 columns. Cover the pan tightly with plastic wrap, and foil and refrigerate until ready to bake. Or, let the buns proof after assembling for about and hour or until puffy and doubled in size before baking if you want to bake them right then. If so, make the pecan topping and ignore step 2, below.
Pecan Topping and Assembly
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup packed dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 pinch sea salt
1 ½ cup pecans or walnuts or both, toasted and roughly chopped
1. Combine the first four ingredients in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and simmer for five minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the chopped, toasted nuts. Set aside for later use.
2. If using refrigerated buns, remove from the fridge the night before baking or at least six hours before baking. Leave, covered, in a warm place until ready to use. This allows the buns to rise a second time.
3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake the proofed buns, uncovered, for about 30-35 minutes or until the tops are golden brown and the buns register 170 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. Let the buns cool, uncovered and in the pan, for about 15 minutes. Invert a large cutting board with a trough over the buns and flip out of the pan. Top with the pecan mixture and serve.