from the Isaac H. Evans

Nothing is quite as pleasurable as waking when the sun rises over the sea, sniffing the mouth-watering aroma of yeasty, cinnamon-y, sweet rolls, baking in the wood-fired oven. Nothing is quite as warm and welcoming as that first mug of steaming, freshly perked coffee enjoyed in the solitude of a peaceful anchorage; nothing is as enjoyable as wandering a freshly swabbed deck, listening to bird calls from a nearby island, and anticipating a day of great sailing—after a yummy, hot breakfast featuring fresh-from-the-oven, caramel-y Sticky Buns!

Isaac H. Evans Caramel-y Sticky Buns

Photo: Margi Hayes

For the Sticky Bun dough:

1/2 cup warm water
1 tsp sugar
1 Tbsp yeast
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup milk, heated and then cooled to just warm
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cardamom
3-1/2 to 4 cups flour, more as needed

For the Sticky Mixture:

3/4 cup butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup Maine Maple syrup
1/2 to 3/4 cup roughly chopped pecans (optional)

For the Filling:

1/4 cup melted butter
2/3 cup sugar
4 tsp. cinnamon

The dough: Sift together the 3½ C flour, salt, cardamom, set aside. In a separate bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 tsp sugar in the warm water and allow to proof. Whisk in the warm milk, softened butter, ¼ C sugar, and beaten egg. Add flour mixture, and mix to form a dough. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 2-3 minutes, or until a soft dough is formed, adding more flour as needed if dough is too sticky. Place in a greased bowl, cover, and let rise for about an hour or until doubled in bulk. (Dough can rise overnight in the refrigerator).

The sticky mixture: Melt the butter in the bottom of a 9X13-inch baking pan. Sprinkle brown sugar over the butter and drizzle Maine maple syrup over all. Place pan on top of stove over low heat and whisk until brown sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat. Sprinkle pecans evenly over sticky mixture and set aside.

Forming the Sticky Buns:

Toss together sugar and cinnamon for filling. Have at hand raisins and nuts, other dried fruits, chocolate chips or whatever you choose for a filling. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll into a rectangle about 9”X 15” or 16”. Brush dough with the melted butter, leaving one long edge of the rectangle unbuttered. Sprinkle the cinnamon and sugar over the dough. If including raisins and nuts, sprinkle them over the cinnamon sugar. Roll into a log, lengthwise, starting with the long buttered edge so that it is on the inside of the roll; pinch the unbuttered edge onto the roll to seal (sometimes it’s helpful to moisten the unbuttered strip). Slice into 1 to 1½-inch slices and arrange, cut side down, over the sticky mixture (and pecans, if you choose that option) in the baking pan. Let rise until almost doubled in bulk.

Preheat oven to 375˚ and bake for 25-30 minutes, until sticky mixture is bubbling and buns are golden brown. Invert immediately onto a serving platter or foiled tray. Allow pan to remain in place over the buns for a few minutes so that all of the sticky mixture will drizzle down onto the buns.