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The aroma of sticky buns in a cozy kitchen creates one of the loveliest childhood memories. Cranberries, brown sugar and butter create a flavor that children of all ages love. This combination of flavors doesn't need anything else — it's sublime just as it is.

At a glance

Prep
Bake
Total
Yield
two 9" cake pans, about 14 buns

Ingredients

Choose your measure:

The Dough

Cranberry Filling

  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) butter, at room temperature
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar (depending on how tart or sweet you like your cranberries)
  • 3 cups fresh cranberries or 1 cup dried cranberries (See "tips", below.)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup chopped or ground nuts, optional

Instructions

  1. To make the dough: Break the eggs into a 2-cup liquid measure and fill the balance with warm water. Pour into a mixing bowl and beat until blended.
  2. Add and dissolve the sugar and yeast. Beat in the butter or oil and the dry milk.
  3. When this is thoroughly blended, add the whole wheat flour and salt. Stir in 3 cups of unbleached flour until the mixture holds together and pulls away from the side of the bowl.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured board, and knead for 3 or 4 minutes, using as little flour as possible, until the dough is soft, elastic, and slightly tacky. Use a dough scraper to help if you need to.
  5. Place it in the greased bowl, cover, and let it rise until puffy, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
  6. To make the filling: Cut the fresh cranberries, cut them in half and simmer them in a saucepan with a couple of tablespoons of water and the greater amount of sugar for 8 to 10 minutes. Keep the heat low and give the mixture an occasional stir.
  7. If you're using dried cranberries, put aside one quarter of the filling ingredients for later.
  8. Lightly grease two 9" cake pans or a medium sized roasting pan (about 11" x 13").
  9. To shape the dough: Press the dough down and roll it into a large rectangle, about 12" x 24" (or two smaller ones, 9" x 16").
  10. Spread the softened butter on the rectangle(s), leaving 1/2" around the outside edge unbuttered.
  11. If you're using the fresh cranberries mixture, spread all of it on the surface of the dough, leaving 1/2" clear on the edges. Starting with the long edge, roll the dough up like a jelly roll. Pinch the outside edge tightly to the main body of the dough. Lift the roll gently (or cut it in half if you're using two pans) and place it in the pan(s) you intend to bake them in.
  12. Cut the roll into 3/4" to 1" slices. Arrange them so they have room to expand. The filling that seeps out becomes the glaze on top after you turn them out of the pan. Cover the buns and let them rise for 45 minutes to an hour.
  13. If you're using dried cranberries, sprinkle the brown sugar over the butter, then the cranberries, and finally the nuts. Butter and sugar your pan with the ingredients you had set aside. (You can even throw some cranberries and nuts in as well.) Starting with the long edge, roll the dough up like a jelly roll. Pinch the outside edge to the main body of the dough. Cut the roll into 3/4" to 1" slices, arrange cut side down in the pan, cover the pan and let them rise for 45 minutes to an hour.
  14. To bake and turn out: Place the pan in a cold oven and set the temperature to 400°F for 15 minutes. During this time, the buns will finish rising and assume their final, expanded shape.
  15. After this 15-minute period, turn the temperature down to 350°F for a further 20 to 30 minutes.
  16. Check after 20 minutes. If there's the slightest aroma of browning sugar, turn the temperature down to 325°F for the final 10 minutes.
  17. While these buns are still hot, loosen the sides a bit with a knife. Then find a plate or platter that will accommodate them.
  18. Invert the platter over the baking pan, flip them both over and leave the baking pan overturned for a few minutes to allow everything to come out.
  19. Store, covered, at room temperature for up to 3 days.