Scents and tastes have a way of transporting us back to some wonderful memories. That’s what happened when I made these maple pecan sticky buns, which happen to be free of refined sugar! Imagine that – a cinnamon bun with NO refined sugar! More on why I chose to go sugar free later, but for now, let’s reminisce.
The first bite of these sticky buns had a wonderfully overwhelming maple syrup flavor coupled with crunchy pecans. That first bite brought me back to a coffee shop in Vermont where my family and I were vacationing one winter. We tried their “Vermont-style” maple pecan oatmeal, and, ever since, I have made my own granola based on this amazing flavor combination. I even shared the recipe here – which of course I highly recommend!
Next, my memories brought me to Iceland. On our way back to our home in France last summer, we “had to” stop in Iceland for 4 days to save a ton of money on plane tickets. (Sure, we spent most of the money we saved in that gorgeous island in the north Atlantic, but it was certainly worth every penny!) If you’re planning a trip there, check out my article with some advice on what to see and do in Iceland. When we’re traveling, we love to save money by getting take out and picking up ingredients at bakeries. My husband and I just happened to try a pecan pastry our first day there, and it was SO good that we bought these pastries pretty much every time we stopped at a bakery for the next few days.
I’ve been on the lookout for these again now every time I go to a bakery. In France, they are usually called “Le Canadien” or “Le Québécois,” and we spotted them when we took a camping trip circling Mont Blanc this summer. We stopped in a little town beyond Chamonix, just before you cross into Switzerland. The line to this bakery was out the door, so I thought twice about queuing up, but it sure was worth the wait!
So to recreate these at home, I decided to make sticky buns with these simple flavor combinations: maple, butter, cinnamon and pecan.
I bought (baguette) dough from our bakery and rolled it out.
Then for mine, I spread unsweetened applesauce on it with a bit of cinnamon. For my husband’s, I spread brown sugar and cinnamon on it. Then I rolled them up and put them in an individual round Pyrex dish which had melted butter, chopped pecans and maple syrup in it. I made sure the butter coated the sides of the container to prevent sticking. If you’re serving a crowd, certainly make it in a larger dish! However, this seemed to be the perfect solution for us since we had different dietary requests, and I never like to have leftover sticky buns (they are much better fresh!)
I let them rise on the counter overnight. Then in the morning, I baked them about 20-30 minutes at 350, inverted them and served them with a tall mug of Christmas blend coffee.
So… why do I choose to avoid sugar? After watching the documentary, Fed Up, I decided that I too was fed up with sugar’s place in my diet. My pregnancy weight was still lingering several months postpartum, and I had some work to do. I drastically cut sugar from my diet and have slowly lost nearly 20 pounds! (After losing the first 10 lbs from a low sugar diet alone, I began doing at least 30 minutes of aerobics videos found on Youtube, in addition to a low sugar diet.)
The thing with refined sugar is that it has been striped of any redeeming qualities found in plant-based sweeteners like maple syrup or applesauce. Maple syrup still contains potassium, magnesium and calcium. Applesauce also contains potassium, plus vitamin C and dietary fiber. Pecans have a sweetness to them too, plus they are packed with protein, magnesium, potassium, dietary fiber, healthy fat, iron and Vitamin B-6. More whole food sweeteners like these help sustain your appetite over a longer period of time and prevent the sugar “high” followed by a swift crash. That’s not to say that maple syrup is perfect – it is still a form of sucrose, but it has more redeeming qualities than sugar.
- 1 recipe dough such as this one using an overnight poolish OR store-bought dough.
- ¼ to /2 cup butter
- 1-2 cups maple syrup
- 2 cups chopped pecans
- About 1 cup unsweetened applesauce, or brown sugar
- About 2-3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
- Bring bread dough to room temperature.
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Melt all the butter.
- Roll out dough. If using applesauce, spread a thin layer of applesauce on the dough. If using brown sugar, baste dough with butter, then sprinkle with brown sugar. Either way, sprinkle with cinnamon.
- Roll up the dough and cut into 1 inch tall sections.
- Evenly coat a 9x13 casserole dish with most of the remaining butter, ensuring that the butter gets on the sides of the dish too.
- Add the chopped pecans until evenly dispersed.
- Drizzle with as much maple syrup as you prefer.
- Add the dough rolls to the casserole dish with ample room to spread out (it will double when it rises).
- Baste the top with remaining butter.
- Loosely cover with a towel and allow to rise overnight, or at least 3 hours in a very warm place.
- Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes until it is springy and no longer doughy.
- If desired, baste with additional melted butter, then invert and serve. Enjoy with a tall cup of freshly brewed coffee!
This holiday season I hope you enjoy some great eats, including these maple pecan cinnamon buns! Bon appétit and Merry Christmas!