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Pecan-Honey Buns

on December 24, 2012

Dough
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 cup milk, warmed
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for buttering
3 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons honey, preferably orange blossom or clover
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Topping
1/2 cup honey, preferably orange blossom or clover
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for brushing
1 1/2 cups pecans (6 ounces), coarsely chopped

Filling
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle, combine the yeast with a pinch of granulated sugar and the milk and let stand until foamy, 5 minutes. Add the remaining sugar, the 4 tablespoons of melted butter and the egg yolks, honey and vanilla; mix until blended. Mix in the flour and salt. Switch to the dough hook and knead at medium speed until the dough forms a smooth ball, 4 minutes.
2. Brush a large bowl with butter. Add the dough and brush the top with butter. Cover and let stand in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
3. Butter a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish. In a medium saucepan, melt the honey with the brown sugar and 4 tablespoons of butter over moderate heat until the sugar is dissolved, about 1 minute. Pour the hot honey mixture into the prepared baking dish and sprinkle with the pecans.
4. In a bowl, mix the sugar with the cinnamon. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough to a 12-by-18-inch rectangle. Spread the butter over the dough, leaving a 1-inch border all around. Sprinkle the dough with the cinnamon sugar. Starting at a long side, roll the dough into a log and turn it seam side down. Cut the dough into 12 slices. Arrange the slices, cut side up, in the baking dish. Cover and let stand in a warm place until the buns double in volume, about 1 hour.
5. Preheat the oven to 350°. Bake the honey buns for about 35 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let stand for 5 minutes. Invert the buns onto a baking sheet and let cool slightly. Serve warm.

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