Why This Recipe Works
Many recipes for sticky buns call for a firm, dry dough that’s easy to manipulate into the required spiral, simple to slice, and sturdy enough to support a generous amount of topping. But firm, dry sticky buns aren’t very appealing.
To make a softer, more tender, and moist sticky bun, we added a cooked flour-and-water paste to the dough. The paste traps water, so the dough isn’t sticky or difficult to work with, and the increased hydration converts to steam during baking, which makes the bread fluffy and light. The added water also keeps the crumb moist and tender. To ensure that the soft bread wouldn’t collapse under the weight of the topping, we strengthened the crumb by adding a resting period and withholding the sugar and salt until the gluten was firmly established.
Dark corn syrup plus water was the key to a topping that was substantial enough to sit atop the buns without sinking in but not so firm that it presented a danger to our teeth.