The soft and sticky dough for these baking powder–boosted sweet buns—made without butter or oil—gets its richness from pureed cottage cheese. Don't worry that the cut dough spirals look a little lost in the springform pan; as they bake, they rise and puff into a perfect round of pull-apart buns.
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4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3/4 cup pecans
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup cottage cheese
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 egg yolk
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest (optional)
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
How to Make It
Preheat the oven to 350°. Brush the bottom and side of a 10-inch springform pan with half of the melted butter.
In a food processor, combine the pecans with the brown sugar, cinnamon and kosher salt; pulse until the nuts are almost finely ground. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and sprinkle a scant 3/4 cup over the bottom of the prepared pan. Wipe out the food processor.
Add the cottage cheese, buttermilk, egg yolk, granulated sugar, vanilla and orange zest to the processor and puree until smooth. In a medium bowl, combine the 2 1/4 cups of flour with the baking powder, baking soda and fine salt; whisk to mix. Add the flour mixture to the processor and pulse just until the dough comes together; it will be quite soft and sticky.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and gather it into a smooth ball. Roll out the dough to an 11-by-16-inch rectangle, flouring the work surface as necessary. Brush the dough with the remaining melted butter, leaving a 1/2-inch border all around. Sprinkle on the remaining pecan-sugar mixture.
Working from a long side, roll the dough into a tight cylinder and cut it into 1-inch slices. Arrange the slices cut side up in the prepared pan. Bake the buns in the middle of the oven for about 25 minutes, until lightly browned on top and slightly firm to the touch. Transfer the pan to a rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Run a knife around the inside of the pan to loosen the buns. Remove the springform ring. Invert the buns onto a plate and carefully remove the bottom of the pan. If any of the pecan mixture sticks to the pan, simply scrape it onto the buns. Serve warm.
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