Whole Wheat Maple Walnut Sticky Rolls for a Lazy Sunday


Last week the air smelled of spring. I walked on the sunny side of the street, wearing only a sweater and a scarf for warmth. It was such a welcome break from temperatures frozen around zero degrees. Of course, in February, I don’t expect that to last.

In the past 24 hours we have gotten at least a foot of snow, but I’m not complaining.

Sometimes I just need a break and while I wasn’t planning to go anywhere or do anything on Sunday, the snow helped me feel cozy and just where I wanted to be. This is the time of the year when everyone grows sick of winter and snow, but I don’t mind a little more hibernation.

I often imagine winter as the time when I will lay low, catch up on reading and the pile of other projects that I haven’t worked on in the summer or fall. In reality, I am as busy as ever in winter. I don’t get as much time to knit, bake, and be cozy doing very little as I would like.

To remedy this, I sometimes plan for a day to do nothing. As you know, if you are busy most of the time and don’t have regular evenings and weekends off, a day with no set plans or projects to accomplish is a huge luxury. Sometimes these days off are filled with serendipitous wanderings and small adventures, but on this snowy Sunday I hardly left the house. I had magazines to read, a movie to watch and that’s about it.

Occasionally I thought, Oh, I should really work on… But no, not happening today.

Though I intended to do very little, I make a batch of sticky rolls that paired perfectly with the lazy, snowy Sunday that I was trying to achieve. They are sweet, soft and decadent, but the whole wheat flour keeps them down to earth.

Sticky rolls seem like something that would be too labor intensive and take too long for a relaxed Sunday morning. Actually they fit in very well. I mixed the dough the night before, took it out of the fridge in the morning and cuddled back into bed for an hour or so. I got up again to roll out the dough and then let it rise. If you are feeling ambitious you could take a walk while the dough expands, maybe invite some friends over since this recipe makes plenty to share. Once the oven is ready it doesn’t take long for them to bake. Let them cool a little while you make tea and cut up fruit (or continue relaxing in whatever way you please) and then you have breakfast for a lazy, cozy Sunday.


Whole Wheat Maple Walnut Sticky Rolls
This recipe is adapted from Molly Katzen’s Sunlight Kitchen. I use all whole wheat flour which makes for a softly textured roll with plenty of flavor. I recommend making the dough the night before so you have less to do in the morning. Also, letting the flour “soak” in the dough overnight makes it easier to digest. I’ve tried this with both maple sugar and brown sugar, they both work fine. You can substitute pecans instead of walnuts.

For the Dough:
1/4 cup lukewarm water
1 1/4 teaspoons yeast
3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 large egg
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 1/3 cups whole wheat flour

For the Filling:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons maple sugar

For the Stickyness:
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup maple sugar or brown sugar
3/4 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

Place the warm water in a medium sized bowl, sprinkle in the yeast and let stand for about 5 minutes. Measure the yogurt into a 2 cup measure add the egg and beat to combine. Mix in the sugar and salt. Pour the contents of the measuring cup as well as the melted butter in the yeast mixture. Add2 cups of the flour, one cup at a time. Add additional flour as needed to create a smooth and soft but sticky dough. Let rise for one hour, OR refrigerate for up to 4 days until you are ready to use it.

If the dough has been refrigerated, let it sit at room temperature for about an hour. Grease two eight inch round cake pans or a baking tray and set aside. Using parchment or another non-stick surface (since the dough is so sticky you might want to spray your surface with non stick spray or grease it with butter) prepare the dough. Stretch it and spread it into approximately 10 by 16 inch rectangle. Spread the softened butter on the dough. It doesn’t have to cover every single surface of the dough, but it should be evenly distributed. Mix the cinnamon and sugar together and sprinkle evenly on the buttered surface of the dough. Starting with one of the long ends, roll up the dough into a tight spiral and pinch the end to seal it. Let it rest while you make the stickyness.

Melt the butter in a sauce pan over low heat. Add the sugar and stir until is melted into the butter. Once the sugar is liquid, add the maple syrup and stir just until the mixture is uniformly combined. Remove from heat and pour into the pan or pans. Sprinkle the walnuts on top of the syrup. Gently cut the rolled dough into about 16 equal pieces and place them, spiral up, into the pans of syrup. You can lean them against each other, or keep them an inch or two apart. Cover with a clean dishtowel and let rise for about an hour. 

Before the hour is up, preheat the oven to 350′. Bake the sticky rolls for about 20 minutes, until they become golden brown on top and completely baked inside. Remove from the oven and place them sticky side up on a serving plate. If there is extra syrup, spoon it on top of the rolls. Let the rolls cool for at least 20 minutes before eating so you don’t burn your mouth. They taste best within a few hours of baking.




  1. aztecadesigns

    February 22, 2011 at 9:57 pm

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  2. Amanda Klein

    March 2, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    Hi Anna,
    Do you use fast acting yeast or regular yeast for this recipe? Do you have a favorite brand of flour? Thanks! Amanda

  3. Anna

    March 2, 2011 at 4:29 pm

    I use active dry yeast — the kind that you keep in the fridge and is usually dissolved in water before mixing with the flour.

    I typically buy flour from the bulk bins at my co-op, but I do like King Arthur flour. Thanks for asking!

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