These are pretty freaking good, even in the experimental stage that they're in. I am so glad I stumbled upon Elise's Sticky Buns recipe and decided to convert it to sourdough/whole wheat/unrefined sugar goodness. This makes so many, you may want to freeze the leftovers to have another morning; once they've cooled I just wrap each one in parchment paper or waxed paper bags (so I can get them apart later) and put them all in a gallon freezer-safe ziplock bag. To keep them moist, you can leave them in the parchment or paper bags when reheating in the oven at 200F or so until soft (I don't remember how long this takes; I'll update this post if I try it again).
1 cup starter, fed with freshly-milled whole wheat flour (either Hard Red or Soft White)
1/3 cup Rapadura or other unrefined sugar
1/2 cup milk
4 T unsalted butter, plus more for greasing
3 large egg yolks
1 T finely grated orange zest (or 1/2 Tbsp vanilla)
1 1/4 t salt
3 to 3 1/4 cups freshly-milled flour; a mix heavily weighted towards soft white or other pastry wheat
1/3 cup Rapadura
1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2/3 cup Rapadura
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
3 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. sorghum molasses (or maple syrup)
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) coarsely chopped pecans (or walnuts, or almonds)
1. Make the dough. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine starter, milk, butter, sugar, egg yolks, orange zest or vanilla, salt and 2 cups flour. Mix on low speed until blended. Switch to a dough hook and then, again on low speed, slowly incorporate the remaining 1 cup 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. Shape the dough into a ball and place in a large, buttered bowl. Turn dough over in bowl to coat with the butter from the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until increased in volume somewhat, about 1-2 hours (with whole wheat, it might benefit from the longer time, particularly if it is not in a warm place, but it will not likely double in volume like refined flour, so don't be alarmed). While dough is rising, begin to prepare steps 2 and 3 below. After the dough has risen, punch down. Turn out onto a lightly floured cutting board and let sit 20 minutes.
2. Make the filling. Combine unrefined sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Melt butter; keep separate.
3. Make the topping. In a 1-quart saucepan, combine Rapadura, butter, honey and molasses over low heat; stir until sugar and butter are melted. Pour mixture into a greased 9" x 13" pan (or slightly smaller; see note in next step) and sprinkle pecans on top.
4. On a floured surface, roll dough out into a 12" x 18" rectangle. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar mixture. Starting with the long side, roll dough into a cylinder. Place seam side down on a flat surface and cut crosswise into 15 slices. (Lately I've been cutting it into fewer slices and crowding them in an oval baking pan I have that is somewhere between 8"x 8" and 9" x 13" in area--the larger pan seemed too big even for 15 slices, and I like the taller size. The oval pan also has a lid so I don't have to waste plastic wrap in the next step).
5. Place spiral dough slices, flat side down, on top of prepared topping in baking pan. Crowd them so they touch. Cover with plastic wrap, leaving room for the buns to rise, and refrigerate overnight (you may let them stand at room temperature first for 20-30 minutes to kick-start the rise).
6. In the morning, remove the rolls from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature while the oven preheats. Preheat oven to 375°. Bake buns until golden, 30 to 35 minutes (in the convection oven in our new house, it only takes 20 minutes). It is important not to overbake, or they will dry out, so check early and often. Remove pan from oven and immediately (and carefully as not to spill hot topping on your toes!) invert onto a serving tray, baking dish, or small cookie sheet. Let buns cool slightly and serve warm.