I now call these Maple Walnut Sticky Buns. And they are good good good!
To get a nice close up of this sticky bun, click on the picture. Its just beautiful!! Brings tears to my eyes! Seriously, click on it right now. I'm not joking. After you have looked at the full size picture, you have permission to keep reading this post.
Ok, now that you have looked at the full sized bun, wipe the tears (of joy) from your eyes and proceed:
Maple Walnut Sticky Buns
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast (the kind that you add to the flour without proofing)
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup milk
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon salt
4 to 4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting (I used 4 cups in the dough)
Filling (the way I make it, which is doubled):
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
4 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup pure maple syrup (yes, the good stuff!)
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) coarsely chopped walnuts
3 tablespoons cream or half and half
In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine 2 cups of the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt. Stir to combine.
In a microwaveable bowl (I use a two cup pyrex measure), melt 1/4 c. butter. Then add the milk and microwave for about 30 seconds. Add the eggs. Whisk until smooth.
Add the liquid mixture into the dry, and mix on low speed until blended. Switch to a dough hook and then, again on low speed, slowly incorporate the remaining 2 to 2 1/2 cups of flour. Increase speed to medium, kneading dough until smooth and slightly sticky (adding a little more flour if too wet), 3 to 5 minutes. I like to make sure the dough is quite sticky at this point. It makes for a more tender dough.
With oiled hands, remove the dough from the mixing bowl, and place in a large, oiled bowl. Turn dough over in bowl to coat with the oil from the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour (or 2 hours if not in a warm place).
While the dough is rising, I make the filling and topping.
I just melt the butter in a microwaveable bowl and then add the cinnamon and sugar and stir until smooth.
In a 1-quart saucepan, combine brown sugar, butter, and maple syrup over low heat; stir until butter is melted and mixture is smooth. Pour mixture into a greased 9" x 13" pan and sprinkle walnuts on top.
After the dough has risen, gently punch down. Turn out onto a lightly floured cutting board or counter top and let sit for 5 or 10 minutes (ok, I don't usually let it sit, but I think that if you let it rest for a few minutes, the dough will relax a bit and be a little easier to shape).
Roll dough out into a 12" x 18" rectangle (I never measure and my rectangle is never picture perfect). Spread cinnamon sugar mixture evenly over the top of the rolled dough.
Starting with the long side, roll dough into a long cylinder. (my cylinder is always pretty lopsided, but it still works just fine). Place seam side down on a flat surface and cut crosswise into 12 slices. Dental floss is good for this, but I often just use a serrated knife.
Place dough slices, flat side down, on top of prepared topping in the 9x13 pan. Cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for about 30 to 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake buns until golden, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove pan from oven and immediately (and carefully as not to spill hot topping on your toes!) invert onto a serving tray or baking dish.
Let buns cool slightly and serve warm.