There was this restaurant where I grew up called PJ’s Pancake House. It was one of these great hole in the wall places with everyone’s names and initials carved into the tables, a great short order cook, pancakes à la mode and so much grease soaked into the walls that the it must have suffered at least two fires over the years. With the fires came remodeling and, while the carved table tops remain, the place has somewhat moved away from its divey roots. The last time I was there, I was stunned and kind of saddened to find that I could order a cappuccino. This just wasn’t the PJ’s I knew as a kid.
However, the line still runs out the door on weekend mornings and the pancakes are still delicious. The last time I was there my mom and I sat in the little outdoor seating area in front of the restaurant and enjoyed a really nice breakfast, aside from being totally weirded out about the fact that there was outdoor seating at PJ’s. I don’t always take change in stride. Another change I noticed was that the menu no longer included sticky buns amongst its offerings. PJ’s was the first place I ever had a sticky bun and it grew to be a guilty pleasure of mine. I was a sucker for the bun draped in sticky caramel, especially when the short order cooks would heat it up on the grill, so that the caramel topping melted all over it. Divine.
Thinking back to breakfast at PJ’s was making me all nostalgic, so I decided to indulge in memories and make my own sticky buns. However, I decided to steer away from the straight caramel or pecan sticky bun and go for one with an orange bent. And pistachios, cause why not? And let me tell you, they are delicious. Perfect for brunch on Easter, Mother’s Day and really any day that involves communal eating before 1pm. You can even do most of the work the day before: just pop the rolls in the fridge overnight to retard the last proof so you don’t have to mess with the mixing and rising and whatnot in the morning. Then take the rolls out of the fridge, let them proof for 20 minutes or so in a warm, moist place and then pop them in the oven. Easy peasey.
- 1¼ tsp Yeast (active, dry)
- ¼ C + 2 Tbsp Warm Milk (approx 110 degrees F)
- 1¼ C Bread Flour
- 2 Tbsp Sugar
- 2 Tbsp Butter, softened
- 1 large Egg, lightly beaten
- ½ tsp Salt
- Egg Wash (1 egg beaten with 2 Tbsp Milk)
- Filling Smear
- 3 Tbsp White Sugar
- 1 tsp Cinnamon
- ¼ tsp Cardamom
- 1½ Tbsp Butter, melted and cooled
- 1 tsp Orange Zest
- ¼ C Pistachios, ground
- 1 Egg White
- 1 tsp Orange Juice
- Pan Smear
- ⅓ C Orange Juice, fresh
- 1 tsp Orange Zest
- 2 Tbsp Bourbon or Jack Daniels Honey
- ½ C Light Brown Sugar
- 2 Tbsp Butter
- 3 Cardamom Pods
- Combine the yeast and milk in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook and let them sit for about 5 minutes, until the surface beings to get a little bubbly.
- Add in the bread flour, sugar, butter, egg and salt and mix on med-low until the dough comes together (about 2 minutes), stopping to scrape the sides as needed.
- Turn the speed up to medium high and continue to mix for another 5 to 7 minutes until the dough is smooth and supple.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and shape the dough into a smooth round. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover, and let sit in a warm, humid place for two hours, or until doubled in size.
- Grasp the edges of the dough and fold it in on itself like a trifold wallet. Give the bowl a quarter turn and repeat the folding in process. Turn the bowl and fold the dough two more times, then cover the dough again and let rise for another hour.
- While the dough is rising, combine all the ingredients for the filling smear in a bowl and mix well. Set aside.
- Combine all the pan smear ingredients in a small pot and bring them to a brief boil. Remove the pot from the heat and let cool briefly. Remove the cardamom seeds.
- Prep an 8x8" pan or a 9x9" pan by spreading the pan smear in the bottom of the pan.
- When the dough has finished the second rise, turn the dough out on to a floured surface and roll it out so it forms an 8' x 14" x ¼" rectangle. Spread the filling smear evenly over the rectangle and then roll the dough long-ways to form a log.
- Cut the log into nine equal pieces and place them in the prepped pan. Cover the pan and set it in a warm place for one final proof for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. When the buns have finished their proof and a soft and puffy, lightly brush them with the egg wash and then place them in the oven to bake for approximately 30 minutes.
- When the buns have finished baking, remove them from the oven. If the buns have stuck to the sides of the pan, run a knife around the edges to loosen. Otherwise, go ahead and turn the sticky buns out onto a plate or cooling rack. Serve as soon as they've cooled enough to avoid burning fingers and tongues.
If you enjoyed this recipe, you may like these recipes:
“Sticky Buns” by the Brown-Eyed Baker
“East Sticky Buns with Bacon” by Just a Taste
“60 Minute Sticky Buns with Caramel & Chocolate” by Crepes of Wrath
“Cranberry-Orange Breakfast Buns” by Smitten Kitchen