Adapted from The Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook and Bon Appetit (via Epicurious).
They might be a little work intensive...but they're definitely worth it. Perfect for a lazy Fall day.
1 package dry yeast
¼ cup warm water
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour (divided)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
¼ cup milk
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup pure maple syrup
9 tablespoons (1 stick plus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter
¾ cup golden brown sugar
1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
2 tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. nutmeg
½ cup granulated sugar
2 cups raisins (optional)
¼ cup (½ cup) unsalted butter, softened
To prepare the dough, dissolve the yeast in the warm water in a mixing bowl. Let rest for five minutes, until the yeast expands. Add ½ cup flour, sugar, salt, vanilla, milk, and eggs. Mix, on low speed with a mixer (or by hand) until well blended. Slowly add the rest of the flour and mix well. Add the butter and mix until utter is well incorporated and the dough is smooth. Place in a well-greased owl, cover with a moist clean towel, and place on the stove top (with the oven turned on) or place in a warm part of the kitchen, until doubled in size, about 45 minutes. Punch down the dough, knead a couple of times, cover again, and allow to double again in a warm place for 4 hours.
While the dough is rising, prepare the glaze. In either a glass baking dish or cast iron skillet, combine the butter and maple syrup and melt together over low-medium heat, stirring until fully melted. Add the sugar, mix until it is melted in, and turn off heat. Sprinkle chopped pecans throughout bottom of the dish.
When the dough has fully risen, remove from bowl and transfer to a floured surface. Keep the flour on hand, as you will definitely have to add more in, little by little, till it gets to the point where you can work with it and actually roll it out. Roll the dough into a 10 x 15 inch rectangle. To prepare the filling, mix together the cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar, and raisins (if you’re using them). Spread the softened butter over the dough, and use your hands to make sure the whole surface is covered. Sprinkle the dough with the filling mixture (you might have some of the sugar mix leftover… just use as much as you want.)
Roll up the dough long-ways so you can cut 12 slices into the log that you form. Each slice should be approximately 1.5 inches wide. First mark on the dough where you want to slice so you can first make sure you have an accurate count of the sticky buns, then swiftly slice through, taking care not to squish the dough too much. Place the slices flat on top of the glaze in the skillet or pan, cover with the towel, and let rise for another 30 minutes.
While the buns are rising, position a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Bake the buns uncovered for 20-25 minutes, till they are golden brown and firm to the touch. When ready, remove the skillet or baking dish from the oven, and carefully turn the sticky buns onto a larger plate, glaze side up. Serve warm.