Yield: 30-35 buns.
Honey Caramel Sauce (yields 3-4 cups):
½ cup honey (a light, local honey)
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 ½ cups golden brown sugar
Honey Bun Sweet Dough:
1 ½ cups very warm whole milk
¾ cup soft butter
6 large eggs, room temperature
½ to ⅔ cups warm honey, depending on sweetness desired in dough
½ Tbsp. vanilla extract
¼ cup warm water
1 ½ Tbsp. dry instant baker's yeast
½ tsp. honey stirred into the water prior to adding yeast
1 Tbsp. kosher salt
2 ½ lb. bread flour (or a little more or less, depending on flour)
For honey caramel sauce: In medium-sized heavy saucepan, combine all ingredients. A heavy saucepan is essential to avoid scorching.
Over medium high heat, whisk together ingredients until butter is melted and texture is smooth. Continue to whisk until mixture comes to a full foaming boil. Stir occasionally while maintaining the boil for about 2 minutes for a medium thick caramel, one minute longer for thicker caramel sauce. Caramel will thicken considerably while cooling. If it becomes too thick, it may be thinned down with cream in small amounts until the desired consistency is reached, whisking well to incorporate.
For dough: With dough hook in place in a mixer, add warm milk, butter, honey, vanilla and eggs. Add yeast to warm water/honey mixture and stir. Add to bowl when mixture is creamy and begins to foam.
Gradually add flour, adding salt about a third of the way in. Continue adding flour and kneading until you have a soft but not sticky dough that leaves the sides of the bowl. An extra egg yolk may be added if it seems there is too much flour. When dough reaches desired texture, cover, proof to double, and proof again until almost double. Roll out and shape dough into cinnamon rolls. Place in 10” round cake pans.
Bake rolls at 350°F for about 25 minutes or until nicely browned on top. Let rest in pans for about 5 minutes for caramel to set. Turn out to serve.