Pistachio-date sticky buns everywhere, and not a bite to eat…

February 5, 2007

Imagine, if you will, the agony of the shipwrecked sailor at sea: Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink.

That’s nothing, man.

At least, not when you compare it to having to drive 45 minutes to work trapped in a car with the aroma of freshly baked pistachio-date sticky buns filling the confined space (conjure the smell for full effect) and being able to taste nary a bite.

That is my husband’s special torture for me. Yes, me — his seven-months (plus) pregnant wife.

Indeed, I am with child (that misshapen lump is not a disastrous side effect from my husband’s cooking) and under doctor’s orders not to eat “simple sugars.” Like, say, the kind in pistachio-date sticky buns. Does that stop my husband from cooking said sticky buns? I think not. (I expect you to abuse him mercilessly for this in the comments section.)

So, because diets are so much easier to follow when the health of your first born is at stake, I was very obedient and did not even sample the delicious-looking — and incredibly fragrant-smelling — sticky buns. Hence, I am unable to describe to you the joy that must have come from eating them. Unfortunately, however, my co-workers were able to report back to me in vivid detail their fabulous sticky, sweet, nutty, fruity taste. I trust you can take their word for it — or, like me, you can settle for licking the photos of the sticky buns on your computer monitor. Bonus: That method of eating is completely calorie-free, though, sadly, tasteless and unsanitary.

Click here to download the recipe for Pistachio-Date Sticky Buns


Ah, yes. Our little secret is out now. Well, not out now. Our son is still happily floating about inside of my wife. And it’s hardly a secret if you’ve seen her. She’s got this gorgeous roundness to her.

And it’s true: Her doctor-ordered dietary restriction on sugars has been a tool for me to torture her. But good taste, proper behavior, biological imperative and my wife’s “look of death” have compelled me to keep such torture to a minimum. I have duly limited my production of such delicious desserts as these. Hopefully, my son will appreciate how much I already love him.

So, here I stand with yet another pistachio recipe. I know I promised I would move on after a previously delicious trio — pistachio fried chicken, pistachio madelines, and pistachio crunch ice cream. However, we had dates and I wanted to combine the two in a sweet. I thought it was like combining the flavors of the Middle East and the Mediterranean into a true Western pastry. The result was absolutely delicious (and cruel to my wife).

Finally, when I use another source for inspiration, I like to give credit. This recipe is based Cook’s Illustrated’s “Ultimate Sticky Bun Recipe” (October 2004). While I make several variations, including bench proofing and ingredients, it is a terrific resource for a traditional version of sticky buns. It also has great information on the general methodology. I’d recommend reading the article if you can find it — or if want to torture your sugar-deprived pregnant spouse.


Pistachio-Date Sticky Buns
Yield: 15 buns
Prep time: 3-3 ½ hours
Cook time: 25 min
4 cups all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup sugar
1 stick unsalted butter (melted and cooled)
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 pkg. or 2 ¼ instant or active rapid yeast

1 cup unsalted, shelled pistachio (chopped)
1 cup dates (chopped)
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 Tbsp. unsalted (melted)
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cloves
1/2 tsp. salt

1 stick unsalted butter
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
2 tbsp. heavy cream
1/4 tsp. salt

non-stick or well-greased and floured 9 x 13 baking pan

pizza stone (optional)

1. Making the dough. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the eggs until they lighten in color. dd the sugar, salt, butter and yeast and whisk until completely integrated. Using the paddle attachment, add the flour while the mixer is on low. Switch to the dough hook and add 1/2 cup of buttermilk while the machine is on medium. It should begin to come together now. You may or may not need the rest of the buttermilk. The dough should stick to the bottom of the mixer, but not the sides. It should be very soft to the touch. Let run on medium for about 3-5 minutes or until the dough is smooth. Remove from the bowl and lightly coat with olive oil. Place in a bowl in a warm location. Let rest for a least 2 hours or overnight in the refrigerator. It should have doubled in volume. If you let the dough rest overnight, remove from the fridge and let warm for an hour before continuing.

2. In a medium size bowl, add the filling ingredients. Stir together and set aside.

3. Preheat the oven to 350F. If you have a pizza stone, you should place it in the oven.

4. Rolling out the dough. On a well-floured surface, knead the dough lightly for about 30 seconds. Re-flour the surface if necessary, and then roll the dough into a 22-24 inch rectangle. The dough should be relatively thin (about ¼ inch thick and approximately 12 inches wide.)

4. Making the log. Spread the filling across the dough, leaving about a half inch at the top of the dough clear of the filling. Using the dough from the bottom, begin to slowly roll. The best way is to be slow and gentle. You want to work from one end across. Continue to work in slow increments until you complete the log. Pinch closed the seam you’ve formed and pinch the open ends closed, too. Let rest on the counter as-is until the glaze is ready.

5. Making the glaze. Add the glaze ingredients to the pan over medium or medium high heat. Whisk regularly until the butter is melted and all the ingredients are integrated. Pour the glaze into your non-stick or greased and floured 13 x 9 baking pan.

6. Cutting the buns. With a very sharp knife, cut the log into 15 buns that are approximately 1 ½ inches long. Be slow and delicate. Place the buns with the top side facing down against the glaze. This is really determined by what side you think looks prettier. The ends should have the pinched parts placed in the up position. You should be able to make 3 rows of 5 buns.

7. Baking. If you have a pizza stone, place the pan on the stone. Either way, bake for 25 to 30 min or until the internal temperature of the buns reaches 180F.

8. Turning out the goods. Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes or until the sides of the pan can be handled. Once cool enough, place a baking sheet or cutting board over top of the pan. Press the board hard against the pan as you turn the pan over. The buns should fall out. Using a rubber spatula scrape the glaze remaining in the pan over the buns. Let the buns rest for another 5-10 minutes. Pull or cut apart. Best if served while still very warm. Enjoy!


  1. mmmmmmmmmmmmm ……mmmmmmean that is!!

    This reminds me of the cakes my mother used to make for charity bake sales. We would come home from school to the most wonderful aromas, exclaiming about how great dessert was going to be that night only to be met with the dreaded words, “Those cakes aren’t for us. They’re for the sale tomorrow.”

    And one other thing, if you’re going to make things your wife isn’t allowed to eat, shouldn’t you be making things that she abhors?


    P.S. The sticky buns look fabulous. I might need to make some too. I love the idea of dates and pistachios as the filling. But I promise not to report about them to people who aren’t allowed to eat them. 🙂

  2. And what is a fitting punishment for a husband who is such a good baker? Perhaps a week of pampering for each sticky bun he ate in front of you?! I must say, those buns look quite luscious.

  3. Fabulous photos! And what a coincidence, I have sticky buns dough chilling in the fridge ready to be baked tomorrow.:)

  4. Congratulations!
    (Um, and I’ll take them outta your house for you ^_-)
    Where on earth do you get so many pistachios?

  5. Awwww…congrats! That’s SO great! I love how husband describes her as ‘a gorgeous roundness’. It’s so obvious how besotted he is!

    Oh yeah…and the buns look terrific. As usual.

  6. You might have to name that son Sticky Bun… Not being able to eat one (or three) is cruel and unfortunate punishment!

  7. Congratulations!

    I say keep the pistachio recipes coming, not only are pistachios yummy, but they are a lovely green “it’s a boy celebratory color” (okay I know blue is the traditional “it’s a boy” color, but there aren’t any naturally blue foods as blue blerries are really just purple liars, and what other green food is as yummy. Brocolli is not a party food).

    This was perfect timing, as was sitting here trying to figure out what I was going to make for breakfast for our sunday school class before I run to the market. I guess I better do a boring… I mean regular version too incase anyone is allergic to nuts.

  8. Thank you all so much for your well-wishes. I think my wife liked most of all, and I suspect she’ll come along and comment soon herself, that you all were suggesting appropriate retribution for my own misdeeds.

    As for making things she abhors that really leaves me only with duck, which I’ve got an idea brewing she doesn’t know about yet. But in general, the woman is awesome from a cooking standpoint because she really has a great palette. As much as most of these recipes are my ideas, she has a great sense of flavor and most of these recipes are better because she gives awesome feedback. So as much as she is missing out, I’m missing out on my number one test subject. She also likes a lot of things, so finding things she doesn’t like is tough.

    As for her gorgeous roundness, she is. This is our first child and we are the first amongst many of our friends to have children. So it really is amazing to see this whole gestating experience. I was going to use a sample photo of her stomach, but I was told that I was not allowed. Yet, trust me, she’s got a good looking belly.

    Finally, Courtney, you hit on my wife’s absolute, without question, favorite food when you mentioned blueberries. When we visit my family, my mother sets aside my wife’s blueberries. It’s the one food that I’ve watched her eat in such quantities that I’ve been amazed. My wife is not a very big person and I wonder where she puts them all. As much as I’m 13% pancakes, I’m certain she’s at least that in blueberries.

    In addition, since she cannot have sugars, I’ve been going out of my way to make sure there are good berries for her to consume. This leaves me with the concern for when our son is born. If he’s a bit purple, I’m not sure it will be from the fact his little lungs are just starting to work. I think its pretty likely he’s been dyed.

    Thank you all again for your congratulations. And I can assure you that your ideas for proper punishments will be continued to be received with delightful cackles from her.

  9. Wow! Your blog is simply stunning, and these sticky buns look amazing!!! Kudos to W for resisting the urge to sample, that must have been so hard- despite being worth every ounce of resistance.

    That’s so funny about the blueberries… I guarantee that little sprout will love them just as much.

  10. Read “Blueberries for Sal” by Robert McClusky if you want to understand W’s obsession with blueberries. It’s hard to believe such sweet goodness can be packed in such a small package.

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  13. Great boys1c1b33de899f1d6f32f915a55a5f487f

  14. […] for example, pistachios. A couple of years ago I did several posts about these nuts: pistachio-date sticky buns, pistachio madelines with meyer lemon glaze, fried chicken with a pistachio crust, and, one of my […]

  15. Powerful post.

  16. I’ve tried making these twice now, following the recipe exactly, and both times my bun dough never rose. So disappointed.

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