Note: Thanks to helpful feedback from lots of you out there, as of 9/13/12 we've improved this recipe, as follows: we've added flavor to the dough, and reduced the liquid to make it less sticky and easier to work with; changed the suggested pan size, to eliminate the possibility of hot syrup overflowing; and reduced the ultra-stickiness of the topping to something more manageable.
1) Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly grease a 9" x 9" cake pan. If you don't have a 9" x 9" pan, substitute a 7" x 11", or 9" round cake pan. If you choose the 9" round pan, make sure it's at least 2" deep; if it's not, place the pan on a parchment- or foil-lined baking sheet, to catch any potential spills.
2) To make the topping: Combine the melted butter and brown sugar, stirring to combine.
3) Stir in the syrup.
4) Pour the topping into the prepared pan, spreading it to the edges. Sprinkle the nuts (if you're using them) atop the topping. Set the pan aside.
5) To make the dough: Stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Note: If you're using buttermilk powder in place of buttermilk, add it here.
6) Pour the lukewarm buttermilk (or lukewarm water, if you're using buttermilk powder), sweet dough flavor or vanilla, and melted butter into the bowl with the dry ingredients.
7) Stir to combine. The dough will be quite sticky. Transfer it to a well-floured surface, and roll/pat it into a 9" x 12" rectangle.
8) Brush the dough with water, and sprinkle with brown sugar.
9) Roll the dough into a log, starting with a longer edge. Pinch the seam closed as well as you can; it'll be a bit messy, with filling spilling out. That's OK.
10) Using dental floss or a serrated knife, cut the log into 16 slices.
11) Lay the slices in the prepared pan, atop the topping.
12) Bake the buns for 26 to 28 minutes, until they're golden brown.
13) Remove from the oven, and immediately invert the pan onto a serving plate. Let it sit for about 15 seconds, then remove the pan, scraping out any nuts or syrup that are stuck in the pan, and spreading it back onto the buns.
14) Serve immediately. Or cool, wrap airtight, and store for a couple of days at room temperature. Reheat briefly before serving.
Yield: 16 buns.