Cranberry Sticky Buns

The aroma of sticky buns in a cozy kitchen creates one of the loveliest of childhood memories, something that can be toyed with a bit to be perfect for a Thanksgiving breakfast. Cranberries, brown sugar and butter create a flavor that even a child will love. This combination of flavors doesn't need anything else; it's sublime just as it is.

Cranberry Sticky Buns



  • 2 eggs
  • Warm water (to make 2 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon or packet active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened, or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup nonfat dry milk
  • 2 cups King Arthur Traditional Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 3 to 3 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

Cranberry Filling

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar (depending on how tart or sweet you like your cranberries)
  • 3 cups fresh cranberries or 1 cup dried cranberries* (or more or less)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup chopped or ground nuts* (optional; leave out, or add even more)

* Mincemeat can be substituted for the cranberries and nuts in the filling. About 2 cups should do it (more if you're a real mincemeat fan).


  1. Dough: Break the eggs into a two-cup liquid measure and fill the balance with warm water. Pour this into a mixing bowl and beat until thoroughly blended.
  2. Add and dissolve the sugar and yeast. Let this mixture work until it's bubbly and expanded, 5 to 10 minutes. Then beat in the butter or oil and the dry milk.
  3. When all of this is thoroughly blended, add the whole wheat flour and salt. Stir in 3 cups of unbleached flour until the mixture holds together and pulls away from the side of the bowl.
  4. Kneading and Rising: Turn the dough out onto a well-floured board. This dough will be sticky, so keep your hands well floured. Knead for 3 to 4 minutes, adding only enough flour to keep it from sticking to the board or you. Use a dough scraper to help if you need to.
  5. Let the dough rest while you clean and grease the bowl. Continue kneading until the dough is smooth, elastic, and no longer sticky. (This will happen, even with a soft dough such as this.) Place it in the greased bowl, cover, put it somewhere cozy, and let it rise until you can poke your finger in it without it springing back, between 1 1/2 and 2 hours.
  6. Cranberry Filling: While the dough is rising, gather the ingredients for the filling.
  7. If you're using fresh cranberries, cut them in half and simmer them in a saucepan with a couple of tablespoons of water and the greater amount of sugar for 8 to 10 minutes. Keep the heat low and give the mixture an occasional stir.
  8. If you're using dried cranberries, put aside one quarter of the filling ingredients for later.
  9. Shaping & Rising: Half of this dough will fill a 9-inch cake pan. The whole recipe needs a medium-sized roasting pan. If you brush your pans with a thin film of shortening (even before buttering them), it will help prevent sticking.
  10. Punch the dough down and roll it into a large rectangle, about 12 x 24 inches (or, if you haven't the room, two smaller ones, 9 x 16 inches). The dough should be somewhere between 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick.
  11. Spread the softened butter on the rectangle(s), leaving a half an inch around the outside edge unbuttered.
  12. If you're using the fresh cranberries mixture, spread all of it on the surface of the dough leaving, again, a half an inch clear. Starting with the long edge, roll the dough up like a jelly roll. Pinch the outside edge tightly to the main body of the dough. Don't worry about how it looks.
  13. Since this mixture is quite gloppy, lift the roll gently (or cut it in half if you're using two pans) and place it in the pan(s) you intend to bake them in. Cut the roll into 3/4- to 1-inch slices. Arrange them so they have room to expand. Some of the filling will ooze out but don't worry. This becomes the glaze on top after you turn them out of the pan. Cover the buns and let them rise for 45 minutes to an hour.
  14. If you're using dried cranberries, sprinkle the brown sugar over the butter, then the cranberries, and finally the nuts (if you're so moved).
  15. Butter and sugar your pan with the ingredients you had set aside. (You can even throw some cranberries and nuts in as well.)
  16. Starting with the long edge, roll the dough up like a jelly roll. Pinch the outside edge to the main body of the dough. Cut the roll into 3/4- to 1-inch slices. Place the slices in the prepared pans with a bit of space between them so they have room to expand. Cover the buns and let them rise for 45 minutes to an hour.
  17. Baking: Place the pan in a cold oven and set the temperature to 400 degrees F for 15 minutes. During this 15 minutes, the buns will finish rising and assume their final, wonderful, expanded shape.
  18. After this 15-minute period, turn the temperature down to 350 degrees F for a further 20 to 30 minutes. Check after 20 minutes. If there's the slightest aroma of browning sugar, turn the temperature down to 325 degrees F for the final 10 minutes.
  19. Turning Out: While these buns are still hot, loosen the sides a bit with a knife. Then find a plate or platter that will accommodate them.
  20. Invert the platter over the baking pan, flip them both over and allow the baking pan to stay in place for a few minutes to allow everything to come out. (Anything left in the bottom of the pan is fair game for the cook and the helpers.)

This recipe reprinted from The Baking Sheet Newsletter, Vol. III, No. 1, November 1991 issue.

Recipe and photo used with permission from: King Arthur Flour