For the dough
2 Tbsp active dry yeast
1 Tbsp sugar
1 cup whole milk
4 Tbsp honey
3 large eggs
1/2 cup unsalted butter
5 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
For the smear
1 1/4 cup brown sugar (packed)
3/4 cup butter
2 Tbsp light syrup
1 tsp vanilla
For the filling
1 cup chopped pecans (or walnuts)
1/2 cup chopped cranberries
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
3 Tbsp butter at room temperature
Dissolve yeast in 1/4 cup warm water (105 - 110 degrees) with sugar. Let stand until bubbly.
In small saucepan, heat 1/2 cup milk, honey and butter over low heat until butter is melted and mixture combined by stirring. In small bowl, whisk 3 three eggs and remaining 1/2 cup milk, then add mixture from saucepan. The mixture should be warm but not hot or you'll spoil the yeast. Pour liquid mixture over yeast and add flour one cup at a time to blend.
When you can't easily stir the flour mixture any longer, place dough on lightly floured surface. Knead for about 10 minutes, incorporating additional flour as needed until the dough is smooth and elastic. The dough should not be sticky.
Transfer the dough to a lightly buttered bowl to rise. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place until it doubles in size - 1 1/2 - 2 hours usually.
To make the smear, place brown sugar, butter and syrup in saucepan over low heat. Use a whisk to blend as the butter melts. Careful...the sugar is very hot! Remove from the heat and add vanilla. Blend.
Place the smear in the bottom of an oblong baking dish or two round metal pans. I prefer to use metal pans because I think the heat is better distributed than with glass when baking the buns.
For the filling, place the chopped pecans, cranberries, sugar and spices in a bowl. Blend.
To make the Buns
Sprinkle a little flour on the surface you'll be using. Roll the dough into a rectangle about 12 x 18 inches. Brush the rectangle with the 3 Tbsp of butter, then sprinkle the pecan/cranberry mixture evenly over the surface. With the long side of the rectangle, roll the dough up jelly-roll style so the dough looks like a log.
Cut the dough into 12 even pieces (I cut the log in half, then make the additional cuts). Lay the pinwheel in the pan face down. If you use a round metal pan, there should be five pinwheel circles around the edge with one in the center. There will be plenty of room in the pan for the dough to expand when it bakes. Note: you can cover the rolls with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight if you want.
Cover the rolls and let them rise again for about 30 - 40 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes. Check the rolls after 20 minutes and cover with foil if the tops are browning too quickly.
When done, let the rolls sit for 5 minutes before turning out onto a baking sheet. Again, be careful. The sugar from the smear is very hot and can easily burn you. Nasty!
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