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Giant Walnut-Pecan Sticky Bun

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5 from 7 votes

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This giant sticky bun is made to impress! Swirls of nutty brown sugar-cinnamon filling are nestled in a brioche-like dough basted with apricot jam. Everything is swirled together, then baked until golden.

Why You’ll Love This Sticky Bun Recipe

  • It’s a showstopper. This golden sticky bun is one of those things people ooh and ahh over every time I make it. It’s totally gorgeous!
  • Satisfying. We love grabbing big slices and then pulling the layers apart with our fingers. Each layer of tender, fluffy bread is stuffed with sticky apricot jam and crunchy nuts tossed with cinnamon and brown sugar.
  • Easy. While the end result is impressive, this recipe is actually not that hard to make. Just make a simple dough, roll out out, then add apricot jam and the nuts. There are two ways to shape the spiral for the sticky bun. I have step-by-step photos for the first method below, and a made a quick video for the second method.

Watch How to Make It

Update 12/3/23: I made this over the weekend and decided to film a simple video showing you one of the ways you can assemble the sticky bun. This is not a fancy video. This is just a whip-out-your-camera video that I made during my usual Sunday baking routine. 🙂 I hope it is helpful!

Ingredients for the giant sticky bun

What You’ll Need

Here’s a quick round-up if what you’ll need, along with my notes. Be sure to scroll down to the recipe card for specific amounts.

  • Butter
  • Pecans – Don’t use the salted, roasted variety. You want to be able to control the salt level.
  • Walnuts – See above, you also don’t want to use salted walnuts here.
  • Brown sugar – Light or dark brown, either works.
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Nutmeg – I highly recommend grating your nutmeg fresh.
  • Active-dry yeast – Don’t use instant yeast—it’s not the same!
  • Sugar
  • Salt – I always user kosher salt in my recipes.
  • All-purpose flour
  • Whole milk – You would also use low-fat milk, but I recommend whole because it adds more fat to the dough and lends to a more tender morning bun.
  • Eggs – Ideally at room temperature.
  • Apricot jam – You can also use orange marmalade.

How to Make a Giant Walnut-Pecan Sticky Bun

This recipe has a lot of steps, but it’s not necessarily hard. Follow along with the images below to guide you through the process. Scroll down to the printable recipe card below for more details.

  • Prep your tools. Coat a 10-inch springform pan with PAM.
  • Make the filling. Combine the melted butter, chopped nuts, brown sugar and cinnamon.
  • Proof the yeast. Warm milk and butter in a small pot over low heat until the butter has melted. Set aside to cool until the mixture is warm NOT hot. Pour into a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Sprinkle in the yeast, then stir. Let the mixture rest for 5 minutes.
  • Make the dough. Add a cup of flour to the bowl with the yeast and stir to combine. Next the cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar, salt, and eggs. Mix well, then add the remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time until you have a soft dough that pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
  • Knead. If you’re using a stand mixer, knead the dough for 5 minutes, sprinkling with additional flour if needed. To knead by hand, turn out the dough onto a lightly-floured work surface and knead for 8 minutes, adding more flour as needed. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes.
  • Melt the jam. Place the jam in a small saucepan and melt it over low heat, stirring constantly.
  • Roll out the dough. Roll it out to an 18×10 inch rectangle. 
  • Add the jam. Brush the melted jam onto the surface of the dough.
  • Add the nuts. Scatter the pecan-walnut mixture over the top. Use a rolling pin to press the nut filling into the dough a bit to keep it in place.
  • Cut the dough. Cut the dough lengthwise into 2-inch-wide strips.

Shape Into a Spiral

There are two ways to shape the spiral. Both are equally easy:

Six photos showing the assembly of spiral coffee cake
  • Shape it in the pan (shown in the photos above). Take one strip and roll it around itself, then place it in the center of the prepared springform pan, cut side down. One at a time, wrap the remaining strips around the center, until you have a spiral.
  • Shape it outside the pan (shown in the video at the top of this post). For this method, after you roll each strip of dough around itself, gently place it on the bottom of the next strip and roll that strip of dough around it. Keep on going until you have rolled all the trips of dough into a large spiral. Place into the pan and press down gently but firmly to flatten the morning bun a bit.

Let the Dough Rise, Then Bake

  • Let it rise. Cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm spot away from drafts for an hour or until doubled in bulk.
  • Bake. Preheat your oven to 350ºF and whisk the yolk of the remaining egg with 1 teaspoon of water. Brush over the dough. Cover with foil, then bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown. 
  • Cool and serve. Let cool for 30 minutes, then run a butter knife around the edges and remove the sides of the springform pan. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Overhead view of spiral coffee cake with knife and coffee mugs

Tips for the Best Sticky Bun

Here are some tips to make sure your spiral coffee cake turns out perfect!

  • Make sure your yeast isn’t expired. If your yeast has expired, the dough may not rise.
  • Toast the nuts. If you want to amp up the nutty flavor in this recipe, you can toast the nuts before making the filling. Place them in a skillet over medium heat and toast them until they’re fragrant and lightly browned. Transfer them to a heat-proof bowl right away so they don’t burn in the skillet.
  • Use only one kind of nut. You can make this with just pecans, or just walnuts. I actually made this using just walnuts in the how-to video above.
  • Add icing. If you want, you can add a drizzle of vanilla icing after the sticky bun has cooled. I recommend using the simple icing from my cinnamon roll casserole recipe.
  • Variety is ok! This morning bun bakes a bit differently each time. Sometimes the center will rise a bit taller than the edges, other times it all stays about even. Whatever the dough decides to do that day, your morning bun will still be delicious.

How to Store

This giant morning bun cake is best eaten within a day or so. If you’re making it for a gathering, make sure you don’t make it too far in advance.

  • Store on the counter: Once it has cooled to room temperature, wrap it in plastic wrap and store it on the countertop. I usually just put it on a big glass plate or even use a cake stand with a lid.
  • Can I freeze it? Yes, you can freeze it for up to 2 months. Let it cool completely, then wrap in two layers of plastic wrap, plus a layer of foil. Let it thaw at room temperature overnight before serving.

More Morning Bakes to Try

Giant Walnut-Pecan Sticky Bun

5 from 7 votes
Swirls of nutty brown sugar-cinnamon filling are nestled in a brioche-like dough for a giant sticky bun like no other.
Prep Time1 hour
Cook Time1 hour 5 minutes
Total Time2 hours 5 minutes
Yield: 12 slices

Ingredients

For the Filling

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup pecans, finely chopped
  • ½ cup walnuts, finely chopped
  • cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the Sticky Bun

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 packages active-dry yeast, ¼ ounces per package
  • 4 to 4 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup apricot jam, or orange marmalade

For the Egg Wash

  • 1 large egg, yolk only
  • 1 teaspoon water

Instructions

  • Prep your tools. Spray a 10-inch springform pan with PAM or another baking spray.
  • Make the filling. Combine the melted butter with the chopped pecans and walnuts. Add the brown sugar and 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon. Mix well, then set aside.
  • Warm the milk and butter. Cut remaining 4 tablespoons of butter into small pieces, then combine with the milk in a small pot. Warm over low heat until the butter has melted and the milk is warm. If the milk is hot let it cool off before proceeding – it should be about the temperature you would put in a baby’s bottle.
  • Proof the yeast. When the milk/butter mixture is warm – not hot – pour it into a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the yeast, stirring once with a spoon. Allow mixture to proof for 5 minutes.
  • Make the dough. Add 1 cup of flour to the yeast mixture and mix until blended. Add ½ teaspoon of cinnamon, the nutmeg, sugar, salt, and 2 eggs, mixing well. Add remaining flour ½ cup at a time until you have a soft dough that pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
  • Knead. Using a stand mixer, knead for 5 minutes, sprinkling with flour as needed until you have a smooth dough. If kneading by hand, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 8 minutes, adding additional flour as needed. Allow dough to rest for 10 minutes.
  • Melt the jam. While the dough is resting melt the jam in a small saucer over low heat, stirring constantly.
  • Roll the dough out to an 18×10 inch rectangle. Brush the melted jam all over the surface of the dough, then sprinkle your pecan-walnut mixture on top. Press the nut filling into the dough by lightly rolling over it with a rolling pin.
  • Assemble your sticky bun. Cut the dough lengthwise into 2-inch-wide strips.
    METHOD 1: Take one strip and roll it around itself before placing it in the center of your springform pan, cut side down. Now, one at a time, wrap the remaining strips around the center strip, until you have a mass of shaped dough that looks like a big spiral. (This is the method shown in the photos of my blog post.)
    METHOD 2: Instead of the above method, you can instead roll up each strip of dough, then continue rolling by placing each spiral at the bottom of the next strip of dough and rolling up. Continue until you have a large spiral. (This is the method shown in the video in my blog post)
  • Rise. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm spot for 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.
  • Preheat the oven. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Make an egg wash. In a small bowl whisk the yolk from the remaining egg with one teaspoon of water, then brush the coffee cake with it.
  • Bake. Cover the pan tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for another for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden.
    Browning too fast? If the middle of the coffee cake browns faster than the outer portions of dough, cut a small square of aluminum foil and place it over the part of the cake that is browning faster.
    Check for doneness: At the end of the baking time, if make a small cut in the center of the bun to make sure the insides are cooked through. If the middle still looks doughy, cover the bread with foil again and bake for another 10-15 minutes until the center is fluffy.
  • Cool and serve. Cool coffee cake for 30 minutes before running a butter knife around the edges and removing the sides of the springform pan. Serve warm or at room temperature.
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Notes

This giant morning bun is best enjoyed within a couple days of making it. Store on the counter covered with saran wrap or in a cake stand.

Nutrition

Calories: 381kcal | Carbohydrates: 54g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 17mg | Sodium: 256mg | Potassium: 155mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 15g | Vitamin A: 222IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 52mg | Iron: 3mg
Nutritional info is an estimate and provided as a courtesy. Values may vary according to the ingredients and tools used. Please use your preferred nutritional calculator for more detailed info.
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Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. Can I make the dough and filling a day early, assemble the cake, then store it in the fridge to bake the next day so it is fresh?

    1. Rustic Family Recipes

      Yes, you can cover it with saran wrap and place it in the fridge right after assembling. It will do a slow rise overnight. Then in the morning, use the same baking method after an overnight chill in the fridge that I described in my cinnamon rolls recipe. 🙂