Sweet Potato Sticky Buns with Toasted Marshmallow

F&W Best New Chef Thessa Diadem's show-stopping sticky buns from L.A.'s All Day Baby are filled with ginger-studded sweet potato and spiced with cardamom and vanilla. Rolled into a buttery dough that bakes up light and pillowy, like giant cinnamon rolls, there is a little bit of sweet potato filling in every bite. Glazed with butterscotch and crowned with toasted marshmallow, these buns make a show-stopping addition to any brunch. Serve freshly baked and topped for best results.

Sweet Potato Sticky Bun with Toasted Marshmallow
Photo: Aubrie Pick
Active Time:
50 mins
Total Time:
5 hrs 50 mins


Sweet Potato Filling

  • 2 medium-size (about 12-ounce) sweet potatoes

  • ½ vanilla bean pod

  • ¼ cup packed dark brown sugar

  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted

  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger

  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom

  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt

  • 2 tablespoon finely chopped crystallized ginger


  • ¾ cup whole milk

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour (about 17 ounces), plus more for dusting

  • ½ cup granulated sugar

  • ¼ cup non-fat dry milk powder

  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast (from 2 [1/4-ounce] envelopes)

  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt

  • ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1 large egg yolk

  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 1/2 ounces), softened, cut into 1-tablespoon pieces, plus more for greasing molds

  • Cooking spray

Cinnamon Butterscotch Glaze

  • 1 ¼ cups packed dark brown sugar

  • ¾ cup heavy cream

  • ¼ cup unsalted butter

  • ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt

  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Vanilla Bean Marshmallow Fluff

  • ¾ cup granulated sugar

  • ¼ cup water

  • 3 tablespoons light corn syrup

  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt

  • 3 large egg whites, at room temperature

  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar

  • ½ vanilla bean pod


Make the Sweet Potato Filling

  1. Prick sweet potatoes in several places with a fork. Place on a plate, and microwave on HIGH until softened, 9 to 12 minutes, flipping halfway through cook time. Alternatively, roast sweet potatoes at 375°F until tender, about 45 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes. Cut in half lengthwise. Scoop flesh into a medium bowl; discard skins. Using a fork, mash flesh until almost smooth; let cool completely, about 30 minutes. Transfer 1 1/3 cups mashed sweet potato to food processor; reserve any remaining mashed sweet potato for another use.

  2. Using the blade of the knife, scrape seeds from vanilla bean pod half into food processor; discard pod. Add brown sugar, butter, cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg, cardamom, and salt to food processor. Process mixture until blended and very smooth, about 30 seconds, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of bowl. Transfer mixture to a small bowl, and stir in crystallized ginger. Cover and chill while preparing dough, at least 1 hour or up to 12 hours.

Make the Dough

  1. Heat milk in a small saucepan over medium, stirring occasionally, until it registers 170°F on an instant-read thermometer, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat; let cool to 110°F, 10 to 15 minutes.

  2. Whisk together flour, sugar, milk powder, yeast, salt, and cardamom in bowl of a stand mixer; add eggs and egg yolk. Attach bowl to machine fitted with dough hook attachment. Mix on medium-low speed until crumbly, about 30 seconds. With mixer running on medium-low speed, gradually stream in warm milk. Increase mixer speed to medium, and beat until dry ingredients are well combined, about 2 minutes. Add butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating on medium speed to incorporate between additions, 2 to 3 minutes total. Continue beating on medium speed until dough is smooth, elastic, and shiny, about 10 minutes. Dough will be slightly sticky.

  3. Lightly coat an 8-inch square baking pan with cooking spray. Transfer dough to prepared pan, and press into corners to form an even layer, greasing hands lightly with cooking spray if needed to prevent sticking. Cover loosely with plastic wrap lightly sprayed with cooking spray. Let stand at warm room temperature (about 80°F) until dough has doubled in volume, 1 hour to 1 hour and 30 minutes. (Proofing the dough in a square pan, as opposed to a bowl, makes it easier to roll the dough into a rectangle.)

  4. Invert dough onto a lightly-floured work surface, and roll into a 12- x 10-inch rectangle (about 1/2 inch thick). Spread sweet potato filling evenly over dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border along 1 long side. Starting at opposite long side, roll dough up jelly-roll style, pinching to seal. With a thin, sharp knife or unflavored dental floss, slice dough log evenly into 6 (2-inch) rolls. Grease 6 (4-inch-round, 1-inch-tall) metal rings with butter, and arrange rings evenly spaced on a parchment paper–lined baking sheet. Place rolls in prepared rings, and gently press to flatten to about 1 3/4 inches tall. (Alternatively, arrange rolls evenly spaced in a buttered 13- x 9-inch baking pan, pressing gently to flatten to about 1 3/4 inches tall.) Cover loosely with plastic wrap lightly sprayed with cooking spray. Let stand at warm room temperature (about 80°F) until rolls have expanded to completely fill ring molds (or are just touching each other in the 13- x 9-inch pan), 45 minutes to 1 hour.

While rolls are proofing, make the Cinnamon Butterscotch Glaze

  1. Combine brown sugar, heavy cream, butter, cinnamon, and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly, over medium. Boil, whisking constantly, until mixture registers 220°F on an instant-read thermometer, 2 to 3 minutes. Pour glaze into a medium bowl, and let cool to room temperature, about 1 hour. Stir in vanilla.

  2. During final 30 minutes of proofing, preheat oven to 350°F with rack in lower third position.

  3. Uncover proofed rolls, and bake in preheated oven until rolls have risen and are golden brown, 24 to 28 minutes. Remove from oven; let buns cool in rings, 5 minutes. Using tongs, remove rings. Let buns cool completely on baking sheet (or in baking pan), about 30 minutes.

When ready to assemble, make the Vanilla Bean Marshmallow Fluff

  1. Cook sugar, 1/4 cup water, corn syrup, and salt in a small saucepan over medium-high, stirring often, until sugar is dissolved and mixture registers 240°F on an instant-read thermometer, 6 to 8 minutes. When sugar mixture reaches about 230°F, beat egg whites in the very clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment on medium speed until foamy, about 30 seconds. Add cream of tartar to egg whites, and beat on medium speed until soft peaks form, 1 to 2 minutes. (The sugar mixture should reach 240°F at the same time the egg whites reach soft peaks.) When the sugar mixture reaches 240°F, with mixer running on medium speed, gradually drizzle sugar mixture into egg white mixture. With mixer running on medium speed, scrape seeds from vanilla bean pod half into mixture; discard pod. Increase mixer speed to medium-high; beat until marshmallow forms glossy, stiff peaks, and mixer bowl is warm (not hot) to the touch, about 2 minutes.

Assemble the Buns

  1. Stir the glaze. If baked in ring molds, dip the top third of each bun into glaze, letting excess drip back into bowl. If baked in a baking pan, spoon about 3/4 cup glaze evenly over buns. Reserve remaining glaze for another use. (Refrigerate glaze up to 3 days; drizzle leftover glaze on ice cream or apple pie.) Mound vanilla bean marshmallow fluff evenly (about 3/4 cup each) on top of buns. Using a kitchen torch, lightly toast marshmallow. Alternatively, broil buns on a broiler-safe baking sheet about 8 inches from heat source until marshmallow is lightly toasted, 1 to 3 minutes. Serve immediately.


Substitute 1 1/3 cups leftover unseasoned mashed sweet potato for the sweet potatoes in Step 1.

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