Trying Out A New Recipe: Joshua Weissman’s Sticky Buns

I watch a lot of cooking videos on YouTube, and I’ve been watching Joshua Weissman for about a year now, but have never made one of his recipes before. Until now!

I decided to make sticky buns, mostly because they sounded good, but also because we had some company over and they seemed like a good sort of shareable thing to make.

First, I watched the video, and it seemed simple enough! His videos are pretty entertaining and easy to understand. Then I looked at the actual recipe, and right off the bat, I saw some issues with the recipe. Here’s the link if you want to take a look, but I’ll do my best to explain what’s wrong with it so you shouldn’t necessarily have to look at it.

In the very first part of the recipe, it looks like it’s missing an ingredient, but I figured out that it’s just a typo and the first two lines are supposed to be together. I’ve copied and pasted this portion so you can see what I’m referencing:

Tangzhong:

  • 1.5 tbsp
  • 15g all purpose flour
  • 1.5 tbsp 20g milk
  • 1.5 tbsp 20g water

So, yeah, I’m pretty sure that they just hit enter too soon and didn’t catch it.

I’m totally willing to forgive a typo or two, so moving on. The aforementioned tangzhong came together perfectly fine, and I set it aside. Looking at the instructions for the tangzhong, I noticed that the first instruction is for the tangzhong, and then the rest of those instructions is for the actual dough? But there’s no section of instructions for the dough? Again, just typo type shit, but this was admittedly a little confusing at first.

So, I started following the instructions for the dough (that are actually listed under the instructions for the tangzhong), and everything was going fine except the recipe doesn’t say when to add in the eggs… or the tangzhong. So I had to watch the video again to see when he threw those things in. This was the first of many rewatches.

Okay, so dough out of the way, I set it aside to rise for the 1.5 hours and moved on to making the filling mixture listed in the ingredients, as well as throwing together the cinnamon sugar. After making both of these, it was then I noticed that there was no instructions sections for the filling, just like with the dough. So, I rewatched the video to look for what he did with the filling. And there was no filling in the video.

I know that sounds weird, but basically the cinnamon sugar mixture IS the filling, and the recipe makes you make TWO fillings even though they’re the same thing. The filling mixture is melted butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. The cinnamon sugar is brown sugar and cinnamon, and then when you roll out the dough you spread melted better all over the dough and then sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture. So you’re essentially creating the filling mixture. Anyways all of this is to say that it has you make double the filling, so you DO NOT need to make the filling listed in the ingredients section. Only the cinnamon sugar mixture.

So, I was annoyed by that, but I put the filling mixture in a container and will probably spread it on toast or something because it’s just cinnamon sugar butter.

AND THEN I noticed that the cinnamon sugar instructions are actually instructions that don’t have to do with the cinnamon sugar at all! But wait, it gets better! The glaze instructions contain MORE dough instructions that are completely out of order!

All in all, this recipe was a fucking mess, and very confusing. Pretty much all of the comments are complaints about the inaccuracies and errors of the recipe. Also this is a good time to note I made a few mistakes on my part, such as misreading tsp and tbsp on several occasions, so I ended up adding 2.5 tablespoons of cinnamon to the actual filling. Also I was impatient and only let the dough rise an hour, and then I was impatient again and only them rise 25 minutes (instead of 45 to an hour) after cutting them and placing them into the baking dish. But, I made it through, and ended up with these bad boys:

And then after the rose a little bit, I baked ’em:

But wait, it gets better:

Once you flip em out, you get these beauties. Though, all the pecans seemed to have accumulated in between all of the buns, but it’s a minor thing. Also another error I made is I misread and only used 1/4 cup of pecans instead of 1 1/4 cups. But I don’t like them that much anyways, so it’s fine. Just looks kind of odd because they’re so sparse and heavily concentrated in between the buns.

In the end, they turned out awesome and were fuckin’ delicious, and I definitely want to make another batch. They’re actually pretty easy once you decipher the messed up recipe! And even though I added a crazy amount of cinnamon, it was actually perfect.

You know what else is perfect? B-roll:

Do you like sticky buns or cinnamon rolls better? Have you ever made homemade sticky buns before? Let me know in the comments, and have a great day!

-AMS

26 Comments on “Trying Out A New Recipe: Joshua Weissman’s Sticky Buns”

  1. hi, athena- for great, fool-proof recipes, may I recommend these two? Smitten Kitchen (she’s warm, funny, and has fabulous, can’t fail recipes) and Macheesmo- this man really knows his stuff! Again, easy, no-fail recipes. Both folks are raising kids, so their recipes aren’t fussy or overly fancy; I’m not raising a family, but I use recipes from both.

  2. I LOVE sticky buns! My favorite recipe is from the old Betty Crocker cookbook. They called them cinnamon rolls back then. It was before all that white sugary goo.

    Sometimes I make these for my 5th graders but they have to be really good to get them. It takes about 4 hours to make them for 30 hungry ten-year-olds.

  3. Those look amazing. I bet they reheat really well. And for those who want more pecans, they can just sprinkle some on as a garnish. Perfect.

  4. Hi Athena, I love cinnamon, so I usually double or triple it in nearly every recipe, but my favorite cinnamon rolls are from the Pioneer Woman. They make a batch big enough to freeze a few pans for later or to give away and her recipes are well written and include photos to make it even easier. You can also experiment with variations like Blueberry Lemon and Orange. Glad yours turned out well!

  5. I had an eerily similar experience a couple of weeks ago, making Chelsea buns for the 1st time. I used Paul Hollywood’s recipe online, but discovered later that it was missing an ingredient in the online version. I found out by searching around the Internet to see if anyone else had a problem with the recipe. Sure enough, he had left out the sugar in the dough. Which seems kind of critical. This is why recipes should be thoroughly tested! I made the recipe again with the correct ingredients the following day and they turned out really well. But I’m still a little annoyed. I agree with the commenter above, to check out Smitten Kitchen. She is really wonderful.

  6. Good job. There are a bazillion recipes so now you can make them any way you want.

    My wife makes King Cakes for Mardi Gras and the two twists have cream cheese and cinnamon sugar, respectively. And a sugar glaze, of course. Like a big cinnamon roll.

  7. I love sticky buns! But I wouldn’t have persevered with a recipe that badly written. Well done to you!

    The best recipe I’ve found is Walnut Sticky Buns from Claire Saffitz’ Dessert Person recipe book (also has a corresponding youtube video, although I didn’t need to use it). The only substitution I made was slivered almonds instead of walnuts (I just don’t like nuts much, and especially don’t like walnuts).

  8. You rock! I would have given up at the second or third typo. (I admit, my cinnamon roll cababilities go no further than the pop-n-fresh kind.)

  9. For an excellent C-roll recipe and video (one among ~130 others) , presented on YouTube by a highly competent and deeply strange mystery cook, songwriter and performer…

    …I’d be remiss if I didn’t direct y’all to the YouTube channel called (really!) “You Suck At Cooking.” (No offense meant. At least not by me.)

  10. I’ll second @Helen’s recommendation of Claire Saffitz’s recipes. I made a Mascarpone Prune cake from that same cookbook recently and it was really good. We normally make cinnamon rolls around here. Once I made sticky buns and the recipe called for putting the rolls in a tube pan and pouring the “sticky” liquid over the rolls. My only tube pan was an angel food cake pan and there was leakage. But they tasted good.

  11. I do sticky buns for holidays sometime, when we have company. True sticky buns, to me are dinner rolls with cinnamon/ nut stuff.

    More common round here are cinnamon raisin buns. The recipe I use makes a couple of dozen of them and I freeze then, then let the frozen ones sit in a pan in the oven overnight, then cook them.

    If you are in a hurry proofing your dough, heat your oven to 200, turn it off, and put the dough in the warm oven. It will cut the proof time in half.

    You really can’t go wrong putting a butter, cinnamon, and brown sugar mix on much of anything.

  12. I’m definitely on Team Cinnamon Bun, usually (despite my sweet tooth) without icing. Can’t stand pecans and the sticky glaze is just too much. I’ve tried a lot of recipes and my favorite is Cook’s Illustrated’s Quick Cinnamon Buns (quick is a relative term).

  13. I remain irked that in the era of “anyone can publish” they all seem to forget that professional publishers hire copy editors (or at least QA folks) for a reason. That recipe would never have gone live without cleanup if they handled it professionally.

    In answer to your question: I generally prefer cinnamon rolls, because sticky buns trigger my tactile sensitivities. I can eat sticky buns, but I hate getting the goo on my hands or face.

    Cinnamon rolls with a glaze can have a similar issue, but I feel like the glaze is better controlled? The essence of a sticky bun is to drown it, whereas cinnamon rolls are glazed just on top.

  14. Athena,

    Have you considered baking from cookbooks instead of internet sources? Recipes in books tend to be a lot better edited and tested than the ones from videos and blogs. Might not make for as fun of a blog post, but you’ll get more consistent results. Really good, reliable baking authors include Nigella Lawson, Deb Perelman, and Dorie Greenspan.

  15. I’m not a fan of sticky buns. Too messy.

    And I never make this sort of thing anymore. My wife doesn’t like sweets and my son won’t eat them, so it’d just be a whole tray of buns for me alone.

    Also, I’m not a big fan of Weissman’s recipes. I’d much rather cook something following Chef John from Food Wishes. Not as fussy but better results.

    Glad these mostly turned out.

  16. Cinnamon rolls are tidier, but sticky buns are more delicious, so which I prefer depends on how messy I want to be.
    Also, I don’t see how making two batches of filling is a problem. Just spread it all in and make it even messier.
    Also also, I had to look up “tangzhong” and that just looked like more work for not much return.

  17. I’m a big fan of America’s Test Kitchen recipes for both sticky buns and cinnamon rolls. They’re not too sweet but still perfect in every other respect.

    BUT, DH’s late grandma had a different kind of cinnamon roll that was also amazing. They’re small and short and dense instead of huge and light and fluffy and there’s crushed pineapple on top in the middle. They’re also like eating a sugar bomb. I know that doesn’t sound very appetizing compared to a big fluffy buttery cinnamon roll, but they are addicting. DH occasionally makes them.

  18. We made sticky buns! We used the recipe from Holiday and Celebration Bread in Five Minutes a Day, and they were great! Great instructions and pictures, too.

    Of course, Bread in Five is a whole lifestyle: mixing the dough in a six quart container, keeping it in the fridge, making things out of it almost every day. We love having this as part of our lifestyle! It is less effort and having homemade bread all the time is pretty sweet.

    We mostly make loaves in a parchment-paper-lined loaf pan in our large oval crockpot. It’s very low stress – once we left a loaf there an extra hour and it was fine! Maybe it’s time to make some sticky loaves there. Last time, we put them in the oven. Yours look great!

  19. Ah, the untested recipe. That seems to be a major problem with so many published recipes. Anthony Bourdain, in his book, mentioned using a recipe from Julia Child when he was in culinary school. He said “It’s not sexy to use Julia Child, but the thing is, her recipes tend to work.” After reading the book about her by her nephew, I learned how she painfully tested every recipe in her book to make sure they worked. She me the woman who wrote The Joy of Cooking and found out she didn’t test any of her recipes.

  20. Alas, no more sugar and starch for me, for the last 10 years or so. I never did have a sweet tooth, anyway.
    As far as inadequately tested recipes go, I find many in the Nero Wolfe Cookbook, but by persevering, and making notes in the margin, I find the results are better that some other sources. His sorrel soup is better than Julia Child’s, for me, but I do admire Julia’s dedication to clarity and accuracy.

  21. This is why I hate video. It’s so inefficient to get the information out compared to reading the recipe. And then making the recipe so that you have to watch the video is just infuriating! Cooking new stuff is hard enough already, don’t make it worse! (Or best of all, have video + recipe, so that you can access it either way, if you find videos easier.)

  22. You need a subscription to Cook’s Illustrated, with the full website access. The recipes there are foolproof, and well explained. Worth every penny whether you’re learning to cook, or have been cooking for decades. Lots of time and money saving tips and tricks. Learn now, while you’re home with your parents, and any disasters the dog won’t touch won’t result in skipping a meal.

    Once you learn how to cook you can say “l want to make an XY cake and here’s the recipes for X cake and Y cake, now how do I combine them?” and do a good job of it.

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