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Sourdough Sticky Buns

  • Author: Make It Dough
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 days
  • Yield: 10 rolls 1x


Sourdough Sticky Buns are the ultimate indulgent treat. Pillowy soft rolls filled with cinnamon sugar are nestled in a rich brown sugar caramel topping that when flipped after baking reveals a gooey, glossy top beautifully studded with toasted pecans. This recipe takes quite some time but the results are totally worth it! Start late Friday night and you’ll be rewarded with fluffy, decadent Sourdough Sticky Buns for brunch on Sunday.



Stiff sweet starter

12 grams (1 tablespoon) Imperial Sugar Light Brown Sugar

25 grams (2 tablespoons) sourdough starter, inactive

25 grams (2 tablespoons) water

50 grams (1/2 cup) flour


150 grams (2/3 cup) whole milk

30 grams (1/4 cup) all-purpose flour


540 grams (4 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour

30 grams (1/4 cup) cornstarch

6 grams (1 teaspoon) Kosher salt

75 grams (1/3 cupImperial Sugar Light Brown Sugar

282 grams (1 1/4 cup) whole milk

2 large eggs

56 grams (¼ cup) unsalted butter, softened

For the filling

200 grams (1 cup) brown sugar

10 grams  (1 tablespoon) ground cinnamon

4 grams (1/2 teaspoon) Kosher salt

For the topping

113 grams (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

150 grams (3/4 cupImperial Sugar Light Brown Sugar

56 grams (1/4 cup) dark corn syrup

3 grams (1/2 teaspoon) salt

113 grams (1/2 cup) heavy cream

14 grams (2 tablespoons) rum or vanilla

125 grams (1 cup) pecans


Day 1

Make the stiff starter: The night before you want to mix your dough, combine brown sugar, sourdough starter, water and flour in a jar or airtight container. Mix thoroughly, set aside and let rise overnight, or for at least 8 hours.

Day 2

Make the Tangzhong: Whisk together the whole milk and all-purpose flour in a microwave-safe bowl until all the flour is hydrated. Microwave the mixture at 30 second intervals until the mixture forms a thick roux. Set aside and allow to cool to at least 85 F before using.

Make the dough: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, brown sugar and salt. Create a well in the center of the flour mixture and add milk, Tangzhong and eggs. Whisk eggs until no traces remain and gradually fold in the flour mixture.

Tear the sweet stiff starter into small pieces and add it to your dough. Working inside your bowl, knead the dough together until well incorporated and no traces of flour remain. 

Knead the butter into the dough one tablespoon at a time, waiting until the dough no longer feels greasy and has absorbed the flour before adding more. Continue kneading until the dough feels smooth and cohesive.

If your dough feels too sticky and difficult to handle, return it to your bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place for 30 minutes.

Strengthen the dough: Turn the dough out on a clean work surface (dust with a little bit of flour if your dough feels too sticky and difficult to handle). Knead the dough until it looks cohesive and smooth, about 5 to 10 minutes. Round the dough out into a tight ball and place in a clean, lightly-oiled mixing bowl.

Bulk ferment: Let the dough rest undisturbed until it has doubled in volume and looks and feels bubbly. This could take 4 to 6 hours depending on the health of your sourdough starter and the temperature in your kitchen.


Overnight rest: Deflate the dough inside the bowl to redistribute the food for the yeast. Round it into a tight ball, cover and place it in the refrigerator for an overnight rest.

Day 3

Make the filling and topping: Take the dough out of the refrigerator and let it rest at room temperature while you make the filling and topping.

Whisk together the brown sugar and cinnamon in a mixing bowl. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl combine melted butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Stir until all sugar has dissolved. Add in heavy cream and vanilla. Pour the topping into your cast iron pan. Spread an even layer of pecans on top. Set aside.

Roll out the dough: Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface. Using a rolling pin dusted with flour, flatten the dough out into a large rectangle about 18 inches long (you don’t have to be exact but try to get as close to this length as possible. If your dough snaps back, let it rest before continuing.

Sprinkle an even layer of cinnamon sugar on top of the dough, leaving a 1 inch margin. Starting with the longer side, roll the dough into a tight cylinder. Seal the seam and lightly roll the cylinder to a 20 inch length.

Cut out your rolls: Portion out the dough into 10 equal pieces. Arrange the rolls on top of the caramel topping.

Final proof: Cover the rolls with plastic wrap and set it in a warm place. Let the rolls proof untouched until they look well risen and puffy and have filled out your container, about 2 to 3 hours.

Bake: Once your rolls are close to being ready, preheat the oven to 375F. Bake the rolls for 35 to 40 minutes, tent the rolls with foil for the last 10 minutes if they appear to be browning too quickly. The rolls will look evenly browned and register at 200F when they are ready.

Serve: Place the pan on a wire rack to cool slightly, about 5 to 10 minutes. Turn the buns out onto your serving platter. Enjoy the buns fresh from the oven!


  • Leftover buns can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for upto 5 days.
  • Proofing is everything with this bake. If you do not let your dough properly proof you’ll end up with dense, rubbery buns, so be patient.
  • When in doubt use gram measurements over volume measurements.
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