Please wipe that skeptical look off your face when I tell you that these are not that difficult to make. The dough is much easier to work with than pie dough; it shapes easily and doesn’t stick like crazy to the counter. And it doesn’t fall helplessly apart when you try to move it. It’s also not as finicky about the ambient temperature and humidity. In addition to the dough you need to make an easy caramel glaze (I SWEAR it’s easy – no thermometers) and some pecans in very similar glaze. The compliant, user-friend dough rises, then gets rolled out and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, the rolled up and sliced. Rise again then bake. Then spoon the pecan glaze over each bun.
Time consuming? Yes. First rise is 2-1/2 hours and the second is 1-1/2. If you want quick pastries I think you already know how to do that. But hard? No. I believe in you.
Some free advice: I would put a criss-cross of tinfoil under the baking pan and wrap around the outer buns as they tend to cook faster than the ones in the middle. I actually ended up over-cooking mine just a bit so the buns were not as moist as I’d like but they’re still hella good.
One huge gripe I have with Cook’s Illustrated is that they are weirdly reluctant to provide any kind of make-ahead instructions for any of their recipes. You have to make your own hack for that in most instances. For these, however, there is an actual way to make them ahead but it’s a separate recipe. Here it is in a nutshell: proceed with the original recipe until you let the sliced buns rise then wrap them in plastic wrap in the baking dish and freeze for up to 1 month. When you’re ready to cook them, exchange the plastic wrap for tin foil and bake with the foil for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake an additional 20 minutes. Was that so hard Cook’s Illustrated???
Here is the recipe. [Let me know if this work if you don’t have a Cook’s Illustrated subscription. I emailed them to ask very nicely if I could provide free links to my readers but they have not replied yet. I knew I should have pretended I was Deb Perelman.]