A good baking session can have magic healing powers — especially a cider-fueled baking session, which then transcends into cure-all territory. Add cinnamon-spice and everything nice and you’ve got warm and inviting vibes wafting out of your kitchen for hours, just in time for the holiday season. When you’ve had a hard week or are nursing a routine case of the winter blues, go ahead and treat yourself to all of the above over the weekend.
This recipe puts the beverage of the hour to the sticky bun test, and the result just works. Cider is a natural fit for the “sticky,” caramelized component, especially an oaky, barrel-aged cider. We used the special release Whiskey Barrel-Aged Apricot Cider from Denver-based Stem Ciders. Aged for eight months on, you guessed it, whiskey barrels, the resulting butterscotch and subtle vanilla notes add depth to the toffee-like sauce that coats the inverted tops of these sweet and simple buns.
Try one fresh off the cooling rack, or sneak one with your morning coffee (because you deserve both dessert and cider for breakfast).
Cider Sticky Buns
Recipe adapted from The Pioneer Woman
Makes about 10 buns
For the buns:
1 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast (about half a packet)
2 ¼ cups flour, divided
¼ cup sugar
¾ cup whole milk
¼ cup canola oil
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
For the filling:
3 tablespoons butter, melted
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
For the sauce:
½ cup Stem Whiskey Barrel-Aged Apricot
1 cup packed brown sugar
6 tablespoons butter
Pinch of salt, if desired
For the bun dough:
Activate the yeast according to packet instructions (for 1 ¼ teaspoons, dissolve in ⅛ cup warm water with ¼ teaspoon of sugar). Stir vigorously until solution is combined and dissolved, cover with a tea towel and allow to rest at room temperature for 10-20 minutes or until froth develops on the surface.
Heat milk in a saucepan until lukewarm (do not boil). Once yeast is activated, combine solution with 2 cups of the flour, sugar, oil, and lukewarm milk. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a tea towel and allow it to rise for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, add remaining ¼ cup flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside until sauce is completed and you’re ready to assemble the buns.
For the sauce:
Whisk the cider and brown sugar in a heavy, medium-sized saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves and the mixture just barely begins to reduce (but before it begins to boil). Add the butter and whisk until melted and just beginning to clarify. If using unsalted butter, add pinch of salt and stir to combine. Allow mixture to boil for 20 seconds, stir, remove from heat and set aside while you assemble your buns. Note: as the mixture cools, it should begin to resemble the consistency of a slightly viscous caramel sauce.
Filling, assembly and baking:
On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a large rectangle. Pour on the melted butter and spread across dough. Combine sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle mixture over buttered dough, distributing as evenly as possible. Roll into a long log shape (roll one of the long edges of the rectangle toward the opposite long edge) and cut into 1-inch rolls.
Spray 9-inch cake pan with cooking spray. Pour in sauce (all of it, or as much as you desire, making sure an even layer coats the entire bottom of the pan). Arrange sliced rolls all over the pan. Allow to rise for 20 minutes.
Bake at 375° F for 25 to 30 minutes (until golden brown all over), covered in foil for the first 15 minutes.
Invert finished buns onto a serving plate. Buns will be very hot at first; allow to cool slightly before serving.