Orange-Pecan Sticky Buns with Dates and Cranberries

I looked at the ingredient list for this month’s Paper Chef, and this is what it said:

dried dates • cranberries • flour • candied orange peel

This is what I read:

dried dates • cranberries • candied orange peel

And I thought, Hm, only three ingredients. Aren’t there supposed to be four? Apparently I have come to take flour completely for granted. Like air.

Paper Chef is a creative challenge where the month’s host draws three ingredients at random from a collectively-compiled list and adds a fourth of his or her choosing. I haven’t participated often, since the list is apt to include ingredients like salmon or liver, which don’t particularly lend themselves to bread. But this month, I couldn’t resist the combination of fruits that turned up in the lottery.

Making your own candied orange peel is easy, and for these buns it is not necessary to coat the peels in granulated sugar after cooking them in syrup. In fact, you could probably get away with using thin strips of fresh peel, since they would effectively candy themselves in the brown sugar glaze as the buns bake.

I used regular-sized muffin tins for these buns, which makes them smaller than the average sticky bun. A nice size, but you could also use jumbo muffin tins and get about 12 buns from the same amount of dough.

Orange-Pecan Sticky Buns with Dates and Cranberries

Yield: 18 buns


  • Mix: 10 minutes
  • First fermentation: 2 hours at room temperature, then overnight in the refrigerator
  • Shape: 15 minutes
  • Proof: 90 minutes
  • Bake: 25 – 30 minutes

Dough Ingredients:

  • 518 g flour
  • 280 g milk, at room temperature
  • 54 g sugar
  • 50 g (1 large) egg, at room temperature
  • 10 g instant yeast, preferably osmotolerant
  • 10 g salt
  • 5 g diastatic malt (omit if unavailable)
  • grated zest of 1/4 medium orange
  • seeds scraped from 1/3 vanilla bean
  • 78 g butter, softened

Filling Ingredients:

  • 70 g sugar
  • 65 g brown sugar
  • 1/4 t. cinnamon
  • 1/4 t. coriander
  • 40 g chopped pecans
  • 40 g chopped dried dates
  • 40 g chopped dried cranberries

Topping Ingredients:

  • 18 T. butter
  • 18 T. brown sugar
  • 36 pecan halves, each cut in half lengthwise
  • very thin strips of candied orange peel, 2 – 3 inches long (3 or 4 strips per bun)


  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer with dough hook, combine the dough ingredients except the butter. Mix in low speed until the ingredients are incorporated and hold together around the hook.
  2. Continue mixing in medium speed as you gradually add the butter.
  3. Continue mixing to a medium-high level of gluten development.
  4. Transfer the dough to a buttered container. Cover and ferment for 2 hours at room temperature.
  5. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and flour t lightly. Pat the dough into a rectangle on the parchment, slip it into a plastic bag, and place in the refrigerator for 8 – 12 hours.
  6. Meanwhile combine the filling sugars in a small bowl, and the filling dates, cranberries, and pecans in another bowl.
  7. Before removing the dough from the refrigerator, butter 18 muffin tin cups, or spray them with pan spray. You will also want to butter or spray the top surface of the tins.
  8. Place one tablespoon of butter in each cup and press with your fingers to form an even layer of butter. Top the butter with one tablespoon of brown sugar, again pressing into an even layer.
  9. Arrange four pecan pieces on the sugar, then three or four orange peel strips.
  10. Preheat the oven to 340F on the convection setting, or 360F on the conventional setting.
  11. Turn the dough onto a floured counter. Roll it into a rectangle about 13 x 20 inches. Brush the dough lightly with water.
  12. Spread the filling sugar mixture over the dough, leaving a one-inch border along one long edge. Distribute the fruit-nut mixture evenly over the sugar.
  13. Starting at the edge opposite the unsugared border, roll the dough rather loosely into a log.
  14. WIth a sharp knife, trim the ends off the log and then cut it into 18 rounds. Place the rounds into the prepared muffin tins and press them down gently onto the bottom layer (which will become the topping/glaze).
  15. Proof, covered, 60 – 90 minutes at room temperature, until the indentation left by a fingertip springs back slowly.
  16. Place the muffin tins on rimmed baking sheets. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes, until the buns are golden brown and the glaze is bubbling up from below (the reason for the rimmed baking sheets!).
  17. Invert immediately onto parchment-lined baking sheets, being very careful not to get any of the hot glaze on your skin.
  18. These are best served when still slightly warm.

CommentsLeave a comment

  1. says

    Oh wow, love the way you did the star burst with the candied orange peel! Gorgeous rolls.
    I don’t think I’ve ever seen better PaperChef ingredients that lend themselves so well to bread!

  2. Jellybean says

    Well that was a ‘lick the screen’ moment! Can you make monitor dust taste like sticky buns?

    Fabulous post as usual!

  3. Jellybean says

    Well that was a ‘lick the screen’ moment! Can you make monitor dust take like sticky buns?

    Fabulous post as usual!

  4. says

    Ooooh!! Christmas in August! These look fabulous, Susan. I really like this inverted thing you did with them too to ensure that the pecans didn’t get burned. Very very clever.

  5. says

    Glorious goodies. Love that flour is a given for you, like air…what a wonderful way to live Susan. These look so pretty with the arranged nuts and peel at the bottom which becomes the top.

  6. says

    Sweet little buns, would gladly grab one for my breakfast tomorrow. The cranberries in them should provide a lovely zing to balance the caramel.

  7. says

    Oh my goodness! I didn’t even read the recipe before I started drooling. Look at these teasers. Yummy! What a fun idea with the butter/sugar/nuts in the bottom of the tin cups! I’ve never seen it before. Since I’m a Swede, (cinnamon) rolls are my favorite baked goods, and, I’m ashamed to say I’v never even thought of that great idea either.

  8. Kathy says

    As a “lurker” on this site/blog for a while, I’ve fallen in love with your cinnamon roll dough and was interested to see this slightly different approach to working with it. (The recipe is not exactly the same, but …..)

    One non-cooking question: what sort of counter top do you have? The picture that accompanies Step 14, makes it look like you have a very interesting and different work surface.

    Thanks in advance for the help — and for the truly wonderful bread blog.

  9. Karen says

    I looked at the post on Pinterest and thought it was wrapped in bacon. So now I have bacon wrapped sticky buns on my mind…lol. Thanks for the inspiration, I am totally going to try them and wrap them in bacon. Cheers!


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