SoMa Stickies (Sticky Buns)

SoMa Stickies (Sticky Buns)

Barbara Delinsky’s
SoMa Stickies (Sticky Buns) 

Sweet sticky buns, topped with cinnamon, pecans and brown sugar
from Big Sur’s Ventana Inn & Spa 


I’m a lousy cook. Well, maybe lousy is too strong a word. I am a competent cook who can perform in the kitchen when necessary. But I have no history of cooking – no recipes passed down through the generations – not even a favorite recipe from my childhood. There is definitely a void in my personal history when it comes to food. That’s probably why my books so often include kitchen goodies. It’s compensation, sweet and simple, for what I don’t have in real life.

In the case of The Secret Between Us, the kitchen goodies are produced in a bakery – because here’s another thing about my books. They often include little pockets of sanity to which my characters – and I – go when we need grounding. In The Secret Between Us, that little pocket of sanity is Sugar-On-Main, the bakery owned by the sister of the main character. The parking outside is easy, the tables inside perfect for reading the paper or talking with a friend. And the smells? Warm, buttery, and sweet. To die for. Absolutely.

How to write about a bakery when I don’t bake myself? Easy. All I had to do was to create a place that serves my favorite goodies. SoMa Stickies are definitely that.

SoMa stands for Sugar-On-Main, and Stickies are pecan rolls, a.k.a. sticky buns with pecans on top. I have always loved pecan rolls. Oh, yeah, some are dry and not very sticky. But when I find a good one, I indulge – which is precisely what I do each time my husband and I vacation at the Ventana Inn in Big Sur, California. Breakfast there is strictly Continental style, but absolutely wonderful. At one end of a long table are fresh berries, hard boiled eggs, and yogurt. At the other end, along with juices, coffees, and teas, are breads, English muffins, and … sticky buns.

We regularly return to Ventana for the hiking, the fresh air and incredible flower smells, and – yes! – the sticky buns. I have one for breakfast each morning I’m there. They aren’t huge. But they’re worth the trip!

SoMa Stickies (Sticky Buns)

Prep time: 6 hours

Contributed by Enriqueta Villalobos, Head Baker at the Ventana Inn & Spa, Big Sur, California

For the dough:

4 cups unbleached bread flour, plus extra for dusting
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) quick-rise yeast
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 eggs, at room temperature

For the filling:

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2/3 cup raisins

For the topping:

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2/3 cup coarsely chopped pecans

  1. To make the dough: In a large bowl or the bowl of an electric stand mixer, combine 1 1/2 cups of flour, the granulated sugar, salt and yeast.
  2. In a medium saucepan over low heat, combine the milk, water and butter and heat to lukewarm (110 degrees F.). Gradually beat the milk mixture into the flour mixture. Beat in the eggs, and then gradually stir in 2 1/2 cups of flour to make a soft dough that holds its shape.
  3. Knead dough by hand or with a dough hook, adding additional flour as necessary. If using your hands, knead until dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. If using a dough hook, knead until dough is not sticky and pulls cleanly from the bowl sides, 6-7 minutes.
  4. Grease a large bowl with butter. Form the dough into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled, 1 1/2 – 1 3/4 hours.
  5. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Cut dough in half. Using a rolling pin roll out each half into an 8-by-15 inch rectangle.
  6. To make the filling: Spread the rectangles with the butter, dividing it equally. In a bowl, mix brown sugar, cinnamon and raisins, and sprinkle mixture over the dough. Starting with the long side facing you, roll each dough rectangle tightly. Pinch the seams to seal. Cut each roll crosswise into 10 equal slices.
  7. To make the topping: Grease one 9-inch round and one 8-inch square cake pan. Stir butter and brown sugar together. Add the pecans and sprinkle mixture over pan bottoms. Place 9 dough slices, cut-side downand almost touching, in the square pan. Place 11 dough slices in the round pan. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise until doubled in size, 60-75 minutes.
  8. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Uncover the loaves, place in oven and bake until golden brown, about 30-35 minutes. Invert the pans onto wire racks set over aluminum foil. Lift off the pans and serve.

Yield: 20 sticky buns; 2 pull-apart loaves