Recipe Review

This Surprising Ingredient Combo Makes These 5-Star Sticky Buns Extra Soft and Fluffy

published May 20, 2023
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
Credit: Photo: Lucy Schaeffer; Food Styling: Barrett Washburne

When seeking out recipes to test in this sticky bun showdown, I looked for ones that approach the desired results with different techniques and ingredients. The unique ingredients in this one caught my eye. Most of them are straightforward and unassuming: all-purpose flour, butter, granulated and brown sugar, cinnamon, and pecans. But two ingredients jumped off the screen and kindled my curiosity. The dough includes both nonfat dry milk and instant mashed potato flakes — neither of which is unheard of for an enriched dough, but were definitely different from the other sticky bun recipes I found online. What effect would these ingredients have on the finished sticky buns? I simply had to find out.

How to Make King Arthur’s Sticky Buns

You’ll start this recipe by making the dough, and the instructions offer guidance for mixing it by hand, mixer, or bread machine (I used a stand mixer with dough hook attachment). The dough consists of yeast, warm water, all-purpose flour, softened butter, sugar, salt, dry milk, and instant potato flakes. Once kneaded, the dough rises until doubled in size, anywhere from one to two hours (it took an hour-and-a-half for my dough). 

Meanwhile, you’ll make the glaze by whisking together corn or maple syrup (I used half and half), rum (which is optional, so I left it out), and some melted butter. You’ll drizzle this glaze evenly between 2 (9-inch) round cake pans, then sprinkle brown sugar and pecans on top. 

For the filling, you’ll combine granulated sugar, cinnamon, and flour. Once the dough is ready, you’ll roll it into a large rectangle, sprinkle the filling on top, and roll the dough into a log. You’ll then cut the dough into 16 slices and arrange 8 in each prepared pan. At this point, the rolls will rise again for about an hour. Finally, the rolls bake at 350°F for 15 minutes, get tented with foil, and bake about 10 minutes longer. While hot, you’ll turn the buns out to reveal the glaze and nuts now on top.

Credit: Photo: Lucy Schaeffer; Food Styling: Barrett Washburne

My Honest Review of King Arthur’s Sticky Buns

This is an excellent recipe and, relative to the other recipes in this showdown, is quicker and easier to make. The buns are so good that they almost tied for first place. The “bread” part (the bun itself) is soft and gooey, and incredibly tender and pillowy, with a melt-in-your-mouth texture — proving that the milk powder and potato flakes in the dough worked some kind of delicious magic. The buns have a rich, full flavor from the brown sugar and cinnamon and, because all of the nuts are in the glaze and end up on top when they’re turned out, they come across as more nut-packed than other recipes. There’s plenty of caramel topping, which sinks down into the buns once you invert them out of the pans for gooey goodness throughout.  

If You’re Making King Arthur’s Sticky Buns, a Few Tips

  1. Make them ahead. Don’t skip past the bakers’ tips at the end of the recipe. They include make-ahead instructions so that you can shape the buns, place them in the glaze-filled pans, and let them perform their second proof overnight in the fridge. The next morning, you can just let them stand at room temperature for a bit and then bake.
  2. Maybe add a little salt. For the glaze, the ingredient list includes “butter, melted,” whereas the dough component calls for “unsalted butter” specifically — meaning that salted butter is intended for the glaze. If all you have is unsalted butter, simply add a couple pinches of table salt to the glaze, which needs that bit of salt to keep the flavors in balance. 
  3. Shop wisely. This recipe uses instant yeast, which is different from active dry yeast or rapid-rise yeast. It doesn’t require pre-dissolving in liquid to activate. If you can’t find it at the store, you can order it online

Overall rating: 9.5/10