Sticky buns are a family tradition Christmas morning for my family. This year I wanted to change it up a little from our usual chai-spiced sticky buns. With a kesar pista (saffron-pistachio) flavor profile, these sticky buns still have an Indian flair. Replacing the egg with yogurt made no discernible difference in flavor or texture, but makes these available for anyone who chooses to avoid eggs.
About this Recipe
I baked a lot of sticky buns this year, experimenting with what it takes to get the right rise of the buns and consistency of the sauce. I used honey to get a sauce that was just runny enough, maple syrup would work equally well.
For something extra, I like to add milk powder to the filling. This is completely optional but gives it a pleasant milkiness.
For the rise, I tried letting it rise on the counter and in the refrigerator overnight. I came to have a slight preference for the buns that were allowed to rise on the counter. I liked the final texture of the buns a little more. But if I were making a batch today, I would do whichever method was more convenient, either making the dough the night before and refrigerating it or getting it all done in one evening and having them baked and waiting for me the next morning.
What You’ll Love About this Recipe
Egg-Free: Perfect for those with dietary restrictions or preferences, these pistachio sticky buns are just as delightful with the eggs left out. The absence of eggs doesn’t compromise the taste or texture; instead, these buns are accessible to a broader audience.
Rich Pistachio Flavor: The prominent pistachio flavor elevates the traditional sticky bun, adding a unique and irresistible twist.
Indian-inspired Fusion: This recipe seamlessly blends the warmth of aromatic spices like cardamom with the nuttiness of pistachios.
Simple and Approachable: This recipe is designed with simplicity in mind, allowing both novice and experienced bakers to recreate these pistachio sticky buns effortlessly. The step-by-step instructions ensure a stress-free baking experience, making it an ideal choice for a cozy weekend or a special holiday breakfast.
Aromatic Bliss: As the buns bake to golden perfection, your kitchen will be filled with the irresistible aroma of cardamom and pistachios. The heavenly scent adds to the anticipation, making the entire baking process a sensory delight.
All-Purpose Flour – I use all purpose flour for most baked goods. It has the right mix of softness and chewiness for most things. For a softer bun, use pastry flour. I do not recommend bread flour for these as they will come out too chewy.
Honey – a sweetener that also provides enough moisture to allow the sweet sauce to drip down into the buns as it bakes.
White Sugar – refined sugar works well for this recipe, keeping the flavors bright.
Pistachio – I prefer whole pistachios for this recipe, but giving them a rough chop is also a popular choice.
Saffron – with the pistachio makes for that classic kesar pista combination.
Cardamom – “Indian vanilla” – I use it in most baked goods.
Ginger – provides a little sharpness for balanced flavors.
Yogurt – replaces the egg adding fat and moisture, use full fat yogurt.
Begin with activating the yeast.
Prepare a dough with the proofed yeast and milk mixture, saffron, cardamom, butter, and yogurt.
Let the dough rise to perfection, shaping it into irresistible rolls.
Let it rise in a warm place. Prepare the gooey glaze, combining butter, sugar, cream, maple syrup, saffron, and cardamom.
Grease an 8”x8” square pan or 9” round pan with butter. Add in the glaze and top with pistachios.
Then roll out. Spread remaining butter across the dough. Sprinkle pistachio and roll from the longest side.
Cut into 9 or 12 rolls of equal size, and distribute them on the pan. (Make 9 rolls for an 8×8 square pan). Cover and let rise for about an hour. The rolls should start to just barely touch.
Bake in a 350°F oven until golden brown.
Remove from oven and let cool on a heat-safe surface for 5 minutes. Place a plate over the top and invert the pan. It may help to loosen them by running a knife around the outer edge beforehand.
These sticky buns are perfect for holidays, brunches, or any special breakfast occasion. Pair them with chai, filter coffee, or a delightful dirty chai latte for an unparalleled treat.
Store any leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two days. To reheat, a quick zap in the microwave or a few minutes in a preheated oven will restore their irresistible gooeyness.
Pistachio Sticky Buns (Egg-Free)
- 8"x8" square pan
- 9" round pan
- 2 ¼ tsp active dry yeast
- 2 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup yogurt
- ½ cup warm milk 100°-110°F – hot to the touch but not scalding
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp salt
- ¼ tsp ground cardamom
- Pinch of saffron
- ½ cup butter
- ¼ tsp cardamom
- Pinch saffron
- 2 Tbsp milk powder optional
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ tsp ground ginger
- 3 Tbsp ground pistachio
- ¼ cup butter
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup cream
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- Pinch saffron
- Pinch cardamom
- ½ cup halved pistachios optionally, chopped
- Proof the yeast.
- Combine 1/2 cup flour, sugar, milk and yeast mixture, yogurt, vanilla, saffron, and cardamom. Beat until well mixed.
- Combine the salt with the remaining dry flour. Slowly add to the mixture to form a dough.
- Knead using a dough hook or your hands until the dough is formed. About 5-7 minutes in a mixer on low, or 10 minutes by hand.
- Once the dough has formed, add 5 tablespoons of softened butter, 1 tablespoon at a time until fully incorporated into the dough. The dough should no longer stick to the bowl.
- Shape the dough into a ball. Place in a bowl, cover, and set in a warm place until it doubles, about 2 hours.
- While the dough is rising, prepare your pistachio-sugar mixture by mixing cardamom, saffron, milk powder, sugar, ginger, and chopped pistachio.
- Make the glaze by heating butter, sugar, cream, maple syrup, a pinch of saffron, and a pinch of cardamom in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until all ingredients are well combined. Remove from heat.
- Prepare the pan: grease with butter. Pour the glaze into the pan. Top evenly with pistachios and set aside.
- After the first rise, punch down the dough and transfer to a smooth cutting surface or countertop. Roll out into a 21”x12” rectangle. Spread 3 tablespoons of butter onto the rolled-out dough. Sprinkle evenly with the pistachio mixture.
- Roll the dough from the long edge as tightly as possible to form a log. Cut into 9 or 12 even pieces depending on the shape of your pan. (8”x8” pan = 9 piece, round 9” = 12 pieces)
- Evenly distribute the rolls onto the pan over the glaze. Be sure to leave space between the rolls because they will expand.
- Cover and let rise in a warm place for 45-60 minutes. The rolls will just touch each other.
- Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Bake for 30-35 minutes for a round pan and 40-45 minutes for a square pan. It is done when the center rolls have risen to be even with the side rolls, to test: use a knife on a roll near the center to slightly pull apart the roll. If it is still doughy and sticky, it needs more time.
- Take the pan out of the oven and place on a heat-safe surface to cool for 5 minutes. Place a plate over the of the pan and invert it to remove the rolls. It may help to run a knife along the edges first.
To bake from refrigerated:
Set the rolls out to allow them to come to room temperature. They should rise enough to be touching. If not, give them more time. Bake as above.
To bake from frozen:
Set out overnight to allow them to defrost and rise. Then bake as above.