Overnight sticky cinnamon buns

Make-ahead method yields easy morning treats!

Your family would quite likely fall in love with you all over again should you decide to get up at the crack of dawn to craft some home-baked love, fragrant and just-from-the-oven warm as soon as they awaken. However, in today’s busy world, starting anything from scratch at 5 am is just a bit of an unrealistic plan. I’ve been experimenting for a while now with suspending various yeast doughs – preparing them the day before, refrigerating them, then baking them up the next day. This technique is perfect for sticky buns, which do need time to rise but only require a short baking time before serving. To avoid the almost-impossible-to-resist temptation of eating the entire batch myself, I like to portion up half or even three quarters of the batch into small foil pans with lids, then share them with friends so they can wow their own families with freshly-baked breakfast treats.



  • 1 cup (250 mL) milk (or buttermilk if you prefer)
  • 1 tablespoon (45 mL) yeast
  • 1/3 cup (90 mL) white sugar, divided
  • 1/3 cup (90 mL) melted butter
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 3 1/2 – 4 cups (875 – 1000 mL) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) salt
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) soft butter for proofing bowl


  • 1 cup (250 mL) brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) butter
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) heavy cream (optional)
  • 1 cup (250 mL) coarsely chopped pecan halves (optional)


  • 1/3 cup (90 mL) packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) ground cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons (45 mL) very soft butter
  • 3/4 cup (180 mL) chopped pecans, raisins or currants or a combination


  • Warm milk carefully in microwave to approximately 105 – 110F (40 – 43C) and pour into a large bowl (use a stand mixer if you have one).
  • Sprinkle the yeast on top of the warm milk then sprinkle 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of the white sugar on top.
  • Let stand about 5 minutes until yeast is frothy.
  • Add remaining sugar, melted butter and egg yolks; mix well to combine.
  • Add 2 cups (500 mL) of flour (3 cups/750 mL if using a stand mixer) and the salt; stir vigorously to combine.
  • Continue adding flour until the dough comes together into a soft ball that pulls away from the sides of the bowl. The dough should be slightly sticky.
  • Knead using stand mixer for 3 minutes. If mixing by hand, turn dough out onto floured surface and knead for 5 minutes, adding just a tiny bit more flour as needed to keep it workable.
  • When dough is well-kneaded and smooth in texture, shape it into a ball. Rub the inside of a clean, large bowl with 1 teaspoon (5 mL) of soft butter. Roll the dough around in the bowl to coat, then cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
  • Let proof (rise) in a warm place (an oven that has been ever so slightly preheated and turned off is great) until the dough has doubled in size (approximately 60 – 75 minutes).
  • While dough is rising, make the sauce by placing butter and brown sugar in a small saucepan. Heat, stirring constantly so it does not burn, and boil for a minute or so.
  • Remove from heat; add corn syrup and cream then stir to blend well.
  • Pour the sauce into the bottom of two parchment paper-lined 8 x 8 inch (20 x 20 cm) pans (or equivalent larger/smaller pans) and sprinkle evenly with pecans, if using. Set aside to cool.
  • Prepare the filling by combining the brown sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.
  • When dough has risen to double its original size, pull it out of the bowl and place on clean countertop.
  • With your hands or a rolling pin, flatten into a rectangle approximately 10 inches x 16 inches (25 x 35 cm). Spread the dough with the soft butter and sprinkle with the sugar-cinnamon mixture. Sprinkle with nuts and/or raisins (currants), if using.
  • Starting on one of the long sides, carefully roll the dough up into a long cylinder, pressing gently as you roll.
  • With a sharp knife, cut the roll into 20 equal slices.
  • Arrange the slices, cut side up, atop the cooled sauce in the pans.
  • Cover each pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or up to 36 hours.
  • When ready to bake, remove the pans from the refrigerator. Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Bake 22 – 25 minutes for smaller pans, or 26 – 30 minutes for a large pan, until sauce is bubbly and buns are golden brown on top.
  • Remove cooked buns from oven and let pans rest for 5 minutes before inverting them onto serving platters.

Makes 20 delectable sticky buns.

Author: Paula Roy

Welcome to my kitchen! I love simple dishes prepared with passion and am always seeking to find new methods to make food as fun and flavourful as possible. If you enjoy this space be sure to check out my Rogers TV Ottawa cooking show, Paula Roy's Favourite Foods, available on local cable, streaming and a dedicated playlist on Rogers TV's YouTube channel.

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