Yield: 8 maple pecan sticky buns // Total Time: 2 hr. 45 min. // Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links. //

Light and fluffy cinnamon rolls, topped with a maple pecan caramel sauce.

small batch maple pecan sticky buns

Today we’re taking my favorite, perfected small batch cinnamon rolls and somehow making them even MORE delicious. The dough is a milk bread dough which means it’s super light and fluffy, way more than your average cinnamon roll dough. They’re rolled with butter, brown sugar and cinnamon like your standard cinnamon roll, but then, the magic comes in. We make a super simple, super delicious maple syrup caramel, pour it into the pan, top it with pecans, then bake the cinnamon rolls on top of them.

I can’t say enough great things about these maple pecan sticky buns. Below are a *TON* of tips, tricks and notes that (I hope) are helpful for succeeding with this recipe. I know yeast dough can seem super intimidating and it’s a lot of information, but once you’ve got the basics down it becomes intuitive, easy and fun to make!

what is milk bread?

Milk bread is a type of bread that uses tangzhong to make soft and fluffy bread. Tangzhong is a cooking method that involves cooking a portion of the flour in a recipe with a portion of the liquid. This allows the dough to hold on to more hydration, leading to softer, fluffier bread that stays fresh for longer than standard bread!

recipe tips

weigh your ingredients

Weighing your ingredients is important for getting the recipe perfect and getting consistent results. Not weighing your ingredients can lead to adding too much or too little of an ingredient. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend purchasing a kitchen scale. This one is super cheap and worked well for me when I was starting out!

the dough will need to knead for a while

Kneading this dough will take a longer time than you are probably used to. This dough is enriched with eggs and butter which makes it take longer for the proper amount of gluten to develop. Kneading in the mixer can take me anywhere from 10-20 minutes. Also, please make sure you are using a higher protein all purpose flour that has at least 11%, not 10% protein (I use King Arthur Flour, 11.7%.) The dough is ready to be used when it passes the windowpane test and has pulled away from the sides and bottom of the bowl. If you are weighing your ingredients, just trust the process! If you are using cup measurements and the dough just is not coming together after 20 minutes, try adding in 1 tbsp. of flour at a time.

use room temperature ingredients

It is important for the ingredients to be at room temperature so that they properly incorporate with each other. Take out the egg at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hr 30 min. before starting the recipe, and the cream cheese about an hour before the rolls are done. To bring an egg to room temperature quickly, you can place it under hot water for 1 minute. To bring cream cheese to room temperature quickly, slice it, place it on a plate, and microwave it in 5 second intervals!

heating the milk

Heating the milk is important for bringing the yeast to an optimal temperature for rising. The milk should be heated to ~100°F / 38°C but it does not have to be exact. As long as the milk is between 95°F – 110°F, it is good to be used. If the temperature exceeds 110°F, wait for it to cool down before using so that you do not kill the yeast!

dough rising environment

For the first rise, I recommend letting the dough rise in the fridge overnight simply because it’s much easier to work with when it’s cold, and then you don’t have to worry about doing everything in one day. For the second rise (and if you do choose to do both rises in one day) – you’re going to want to make sure your dough is in a warm environment for it to rise faster. If the room is cold, the dough will take longer to rise. I like to place my bowl of dough on top of my oven, preheat the oven to the lowest temperature it will go, and then turn the oven off and let it continue to rise there.

how to tell your dough is done kneading: the windowpane test

The windowpane test is (in my opinion) the best way to tell that your dough has been properly kneaded. Once the dough starts to pull away from the sides and the bottom of the mixing bowl, it is most likely ready. However, just to be sure that it’s good to go I check if it passes the windowpane test. To do that, take some of the dough in your hands and start to slowly stretch it out. If it can get thin enough to where light passes through it before tearing, then it’s good to go! If not, keep kneading until it does!

ingredients and substitutions

For the dough:

All purpose flour: for structure and chewiness. Please be sure that you are using a high-quality flour that has a high protein %, such as King Arthur (11.7%) so that your gluten will develop. If you’re using a low protein flour, the gluten will not develop enough and you will have to add a lot more flour to the brioche, which will alter the dough!

Active dry yeast: for making the dough rise. You can easily substitute in instant yeast if that is what you have on hand. You will just skip the step of combining the warm milk, sugar, and yeast!

Salt: for balancing and bringing out the sweetness of the brioche. Salt also “controls” the yeast to make sure that it does not overly expand.

Dark brown sugar: for sweetening the brioche and for helping the yeast with rising.

Egg: for binding and adding moisture.

Unsalted butter: for tenderizing the brioche rolls and giving them a buttery, melt-in-your-mouth feel. I would not recommend substituting in salted butter since salt is important to controlling yeast growth and the amount of salt in salted butter is a little variable.

Whole milk: for tenderizing and hydrating the dough. Whole milk will provide the softest rolls because the extra fat helps tenderize the dough. You can however swap in 1%, 2% or your favorite non dairy milk alternative! Just note that the dough may be a little less soft and fluffy due to the varying fat content.

For the filling:

Unsalted butter: we make brown butter with this for some great flavor!

Dark brown sugar: I recommend dark brown just for the extra flavor it adds, but light brown works perfectly as well!

Cinnamon: to call it a cinnamon roll of course!

For the maple pecan topping:

Unsalted butter: for flavor. You can use salted butter, just be sure to omit the extra salt from the topping.

Pure maple syrup: for flavor and sweetness. I use and recommend pure maple syrup for the best maple flavor!

Dark brown sugar: for flavor and sweetness. In a pinch, light brown sugar will work as well.

Salt: for flavor – don’t skip on the salt!

Crushed pecans: the star of the show!

how to make small batch maple pecan sticky buns

Below are some steps of the maple pecan sticky buns process. You can find the full recipe at the end of this page!

  • Make the dough, and let it rise until it doubles in size.
  • Roll out the dough, and top it with the butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Slice the dough into 8 strips, and roll up each strip into a cinnamon roll.
  • Make the maple pecan topping. Bring the butter, brown sugar, salt, and maple syrup to a boil and boil for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and pour it into a 9″ circle pan.
  • Evenly distribute the pecans over the maple caramel, then evenly space out the rolls on top of the pecans. Let the dough rise again, then bake, serve, and enjoy!

small batch maple pecan sticky buns q&a

how to store maple pecan sticky buns

These are definitely going to taste the best the day that they are baked, and I highly *highly* recommend serving them on the same day. They can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature, and will keep well for up to 2 days. When you want to have a sticky bun, heat it in the microwave for 5-10 seconds then enjoy!

can I double this recipe?

Yes! I can’t emphasize using a kitchen scale enough for especially this recipe already, but if you are going to double or half the ingredients it is even more important that you weigh your ingredients. The dough is very hydrated and slight alterations can change the texture of the dough.

can I use instant yeast instead of active dry yeast?

Yes of course! Instead of mixing the heated milk, sugar, and yeast together, just pop all of the dough ingredients into your mixing bowl to start kneading. I do highly recommend refrigerating the dough overnight to make it easier to work with and more flavorful. However, if you are making the recipe all in one day, and using instant yeast, simply let the dough rest for just 10 minutes as the first rise (or however long it states on the instant yeast packet), then proceed with the rest of the recipe.

can I make the dough ahead of time?

Yes, and I highly recommend it because it will be easier to work with! Simply knead the dough together, cover it, and leave it to rise in the fridge overnight. When ready to make the honey almond brioche cake simply take it out of the fridge and proceed with the recipe.

why do you measure in grams?

My recipes are all written in grams because it is the most accurate way to bake. When you use a kitchen scale, you ensure that your baked goods turn out as close to the written recipe as possible. Plus, the cleanup is way easier when using a scale! I will provide standard cup measurements but please note that I have not tested the recipe using cup measurements and therefore can not guarantee your recipe will come out how mine did. Here is my favorite kitchen scale.

a note on oven temperature

Ovens vary and fluctuate in temperature and aren’t always at the temperature they claim to be. If you love to bake like I do, I highly recommend getting an oven thermometer. They are super helpful for letting you know when your oven might be lying to you! I use this one.

tools and ingredients

You can find all my favorite tools and ingredients that I use on my Amazon Storefront page, here!

small batch maple pecan sticky buns troubleshooting

my yeast mixture isn’t foaming, what should I do?

The mixture should start foaming around 5 minutes in. If it has not foamed after 10 minutes, the yeast is likely dead. You want to make sure that the milk temperature does not exceed 110°F / 43°C or it will kill the yeast. If you try it again and it still does not foam, the yeast you are using may be expired and you will want to purchase some more before proceeding.

the dough just isn’t coming together

I can’t recommend the use of a kitchen scale enough, especially for this super-hydrated dough. If you’ve been kneading and kneading and the dough still won’t come together, add 1 tbsp. of flour at a time and knead for 2 minutes until the dough comes together. Please note that the dough at times has taken me up to 20 minutes to knead and pass the windowpane test!

tools and ingredients

You can find all my favorite tools and ingredients that I use on my Amazon Storefront page, here!

did you make these small batch maple pecan sticky buns?

If you made these maple pecan sticky buns I would love to see them and know your thoughts! Please leave a comment and review down below, and tag me on Instagram @freshbeanbakery. If you have any questions about the recipe I will gladly do my best to answer them in the comments below!

Small Batch Maple Pecan Sticky Buns

No ratings yet
Light and fluffy milk bread cinnamon rolls topped with a maple pecan caramel sauce.
Prep Time50 minutes
Cook Time25 minutes
Rising Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time2 hours 45 minutes
Servings8 buns



  • 24 g all purpose flour (3 tbsp.)
  • 100 g whole milk (⅓ c. + 2 tbsp.)


  • 90 g whole milk (⅓ c. + 1 tbsp.)
  • 1 tbsp. dark brown sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp. active dry yeast
  • 1 egg room temperature
  • 240 g all purpose flour (2 c.)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 42 g unsalted butter room temperature (3 tbsp.)


  • 35 g unsalted butter (2 ½ tbsp.)
  • 100 g dark brown sugar (½ c.)
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon

Maple Pecan Topping

  • 90 g unsalted butter (6 ⅓ tbsp.)
  • 80 g pure maple syrup (¼ c.)
  • 100 g dark brown sugar (½ c.)
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 120 g crushed pecans (1 c.)



  • In a small saucepan over medium heat, continuously stir together the flour and milk until the mixture and thickens into a thick slurry. Take off the heat and set aside. Alternatively, whisk together the flour and milk in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring after each, until the mixture becomes a thick slurry.


  • Add all of the ingredients, including the tangzhong into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment.
  • Knead the mixture on medium speed for ~15-20 minutes. The dough is ready when it is no longer sticking to the sides or bottom of the bowl, and passes the windowpane test.*
  • Once the dough is done kneading, shape the dough into a ball and place it back into the mixing bowl. Cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap, and place it in a warm area to rise until doubled in size (~1 hr.)**


  • In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar and cinnamon and set aside.
  • Once the dough has finished rising, lightly punch it down to remove any excess air in it. Transfer the dough to a clean and lightly floured surface, then roll it out to a 12″ x 16″ (30 x 40 cm) rectangle.
  • Melt the butter, then spread it over the dough. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the butter in an even layer.
  • From the longer side, cut the dough into 8 strips, then roll each strip up into a cinnamon roll. Set aside while you make the topping.

Maple Pecan Topping

  • Add the butter, maple syrup, sugar, and salt to a small saucepan. Set the mixture over medium heat, stirring often until the butter has melted and the mixture is smooth.
  • Let the mixture come to a boil, and boil for 2 minutes. Remove the mixture from the heat and pour it into a 9" circle pan.
  • Evenly spread the pecans over the maple pecan topping, then evenly space out the rolls over the pecans.
  • Lightly cover the pan with a towel, and let the rolls rise in a warm environment until doubled in size (~30 minutes).
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F / 175°C.
  • (Optional, for browning) Make an egg wash by whisking together an egg with 1 tbsp. milk, then brush it over the rolls.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the internal temperature of the rolls has reached 180°F / 82°C.
  • Let the rolls sit for 15 minutes, then flip them over onto a large plate or serving platter. Serve and enjoy!


*Take a small piece of dough and stretch it gently as far as you can. If it tears super easily, keep kneading. If it’s able to spread to the point where it’s super thin and you can see light through it, it has passed the windowpane test and is good to go!
**At this point you could leave the dough in the fridge overnight, and proceed with the rest of the recipe the next day.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating