Pecan-Plantain Sticky Buns


Pastry chef Paola Velez created these pecan-covered treats as a tribute to her Dominican mom's love of both plantains and sticky buns. The soft, ripe plantain gets cooked down to a smooth filling with a touch of brown sugar and a slew of spices, including not only cinnamon and vanilla but also black pepper, allspice, nutmeg, and ginger for added depth. Don't worry if the caramel doesn't look smooth when you pour it into the pan—it will transform into smooth silkiness as it bakes.

Active Time:
35 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs 30 mins
9 buns


Plantain Filling

  • 1 (11 ounce) soft, ripe black plantain, cut into 1/2-in. pieces (about 1 cup)

  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar

  • ½ cup water

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger

  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice

  • teaspoon ground nutmeg


  • 1 cup whole milk, warmed to about 96°F

  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar

  • 1 (¼ -ounce) envelope active dry yeast

  • 3.33333 cups (about 14 ¼  ounces) all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt

  • 1 large egg

  • 6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted butter, softened and cut into pieces

Pan Caramel

  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar 

  • ½ cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter, plus more for greasing baking pan

  • 1 tablespoons light corn syrup 

  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt

  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon 

  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract 

Additional Ingredients

  • ¾ cup chopped toasted pecans


Prepare the Plantain Filling

  1. Place plantain, brown sugar, water, cinnamon, vanilla, ginger, black pepper, allspice, and nutmeg in a small saucepan; cook over medium, stirring occasionally, until plantain softens and liquid starts to thicken, about 5 minutes. Transfer mixture to a blender or food processor; process until smooth, about 30 seconds. Set aside until ready to use.

Prepare the dough

  1. Stir together milk, granulated sugar, and yeast bowl in of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment. Let stand until frothy, about 5 minutes. Add flour and salt; beat on medium-low speed until flour is mostly incorporated, about 1 minute, stopping to scrape down sides of bowl as needed. Add egg; beat until dough forms a ball, about 1 minute. Add butter; beat until dough is smooth and no longer clings to sides of bowl, about 2 minutes. Cover bowl with plastic wrap; let stand in a warm, draft-free place until Dough doubles in size, about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, prepare the caramel

  1. Place brown sugar, butter, corn syrup, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, and vanilla in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium, stirring occasionally, until butter is melted, about 2 minutes (the sugar should not be fully dissolved at this point). Remove from heat; stir to blend the "raw" caramel. Pour into a greased 9-inch square baking pan.

  2. Punch down dough in bowl; turn out onto a lightly floured work surface. Roll out to a 10-inch square. Using an offset spatula, spread plantain filling over dough to edges; sprinkle evenly with pecans. Roll dough up to form a log; cut crosswise evenly into 9 slices.

  3. Preheat oven to 350°F. Arrange bun slices, cut side up, in prepared baking pan (it's OK if slices touch). Cover baking pan with a towel; let stand until buns double in size, about 20 minutes.

  4. Transfer baking pan to a rimmed baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Bake in a preheated oven until buns are light brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into middle of buns reads 165°F, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool in baking pan 5 minutes. Carefully invert buns onto a platter. Serve warm.

    Plantain Sticky Buns
    Photo by Caitlin Bensel / Prop Styling by Christina Daley / Food Styling by Emily Nabors Hall
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