This pretty Christmas sweet bread wreath is perfect for when you need something special for Christmas morning or as a brunch table highlight.
Christmas morning always demands something special, so this year, I created this festive pull apart sticky bun wreath. I’m calling it sticky bun, but it’s actually fashioned in the style of classic, Canadian Chelsea buns, just in pull apart, wreath style.
This basic pull apart technique is quite easy to put together and you just need a bundt pan to bake it up into a wreath shape. And yes, you can make this ahead and freeze it, then just thaw and reheat a bit to serve.
Glace Cherries: I had some glace cherries around from other Christmas baking, but you could also use red and/or green, drained maraschino cherries.
Pecans: Totally optional, so feel free to omit if you prefer.
Brown Sugar: You can use light or dark brown sugar. If you have both, I usually use light brown sugar.
Butter: You can use salted or unsalted butter. I generally will use unsalted. If using salted, you may want to reduce the salt added to the dough slightly (by 1/4 tsp or so).
You will need a bundt pan of some sort to bake this one. A two-piece round tube pan will leak, so is not an option. If you have a one-piece round tube pan, that should work, as it won’t be a threat to leak. My bundt pan was 10-inches in diameter.
Be sure to hold your stack of dough upright at you start to fill the pan, as they can easily tip over into the syrup mixture.
As mentioned above, once cooled, you can wrap and freeze this bread yeast. Simply thaw still wrapped and if you’d like it warmed, wrap loosely in aluminum foil and pop it into a 350F oven for 8-10 minutes or so.
Top Tip: While you will need to remove this wreath from the baking pan right away, it is a bit fragile while warm, so once you flip it, leave it be until it is completely cooled before moving it.
Get the Recipe: Festive Pull Apart Sticky Bun Wreath
For the dough:
- 1 cup milk, scaled *see Notes
- 1/3 cup granulated white sugar
- 2 tsp fine salt, reduce slightly if using salted butter
- 1/2 cup butter, cut into 8 pieces
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tsp granulated white sugar
- 1/2 cup lukewarm water
- 3 tsp instant or active dry yeast
- 5 cups all purpose flour, approximately
For the sticky syrup:
- 3/4 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
- 3 Tbsp butter
- 3 Tbsp hot water
- 1/3 cup butter, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
- 1 Tbsp cinnamon
- 1/2 cup red and/or green glace cherries, or drained maraschino cherries
- 1/3 cup pecan halves, or walnuts
- Scald the milk. Pour it into a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a kneading hook, together with the 1/3 cup of white sugar, the salt, butter and the first 1/2 cup water. Stir until the butter melts. Cool to lukewarm.
- Meanwhile, dissolve the 1 tsp sugar in the lukewarm water. Sprinkle the yeast over the water and let sit for 10 minutes, then stir briskly and add to the cooled to lukewarm milk mixture. Beat in 2 1/2 cups of the flour, then gradually add enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough. Knead in a mixer with the kneading hook, or turn the dough onto a floured board and knead for 10 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Shape into a ball.
- Grease a bowl and place the dough in it, rolling the ball to grease the entire surface. Cover the bowl with a plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for about 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in bulk.
- Punch down the dough, knead two or three times and let rest for 10 minutes on a board.
- Meanwhile, prepare the sticky syrup. Put the 3/4 cup brown sugar, 3 Tbsp butter and 3 Tbsp hot water in a saucepan. Stir over medium heat until the butter melts, then boil for 2 minutes. Immediately pour the syrup into a greased 10-inch bundt pan. Set aside while you finish shaping the dough.
- In a small bowl, mix the filling by stirring together the 3/4 cup of brown sugar with 1 Tbsp of cinnamon. Set aside.
- When dough has rested, divide dough into two even pieces. With one piece of dough, roll into a 12 x 18-inch rectangle. Spread with 1/2 of the softened 1/3 cup of butter. Sprinkle 1/2 of the prepared brown sugar/cinnamon mixture evenly over the dough. Using a pizza cutter or a sharp knife and cut lengthwise from the 12-inch end into four 3-inch strips. Carefully lift the strips and stack them (so you will have a stack that is 3-inches wide x 18-inches long). Again, using a pizza cutter and sharp knife, cut the stack into six 3-inch squares (so you will end up with six 3-inch squares total). Set aside and repeat with the second piece of dough. You will finish with twelve 3-inch stacks of filled dough.
- Scatter nuts and cherries over the sticky syrup in the bundt pan (*for pecans, place them upside down, as the bottom will end up as the top).
- Take your dough stacks and arrange them evenly around the ring of the bundt pan, carefully holding them upright as you work, so they don't fall into the syrup mixture. If desired, you can tuck a few more cherries along the sides, between the pan and the dough, poking them about 1/2 way down.
- Cover pan tightly with plastic wrap and set aside to rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 375F. Place bundt pan on a baking sheet and remove plastic wrap. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until the dough tests at least 195F when tested with an instant read thermometer. *If the dough seems to be at risk of over-browning, loosely lay a sheet of aluminum foil over-top for the last part of baking.
- While baking, prepare a cooling rack with a sheet of paper towel underneath.
- As soon as the bread come out of the oven, turn the pan upside down onto the cooling rack, allowing the syrup to run over the buns (and the paper towel to catch any drips) and remove the pan. Allow to cool completely on the cooling rack before transferring to a serving plate.
- (Can be well-wrapped and frozen once cooled. Thaw in wrapping and if desired, wrap in aluminum foil and place into a 350F oven for 5-7 minutes to re-warm.)
Merry Christmas Jennifer! This looks beautiful and delicious! It reminds me of something wonderful my mom used to make. I have to try it!
Thanks so much Chris and Merry Christmas to you and your family, as well :)
Truly a festive treat! I love your yeasted dough pull-apart recipes and I am sure that this pretty wreath tastes even better than it looks!
Thanks so much, Milena!
Now this is my kind of Christmas wreath Jennifer! Delicious work! Happy Holidays to you and your family!
Thanks so much, Mary Ann and happy holidays to you, as well!
Wish I had seen this recipe before I started my make-ahead sticky buns this morning! Will look forward to making these in the near future – your recipes are always so delicious and dependable. Happy Christmas, Jennifer!
Thanks Carolyn and yes, tuck this away for some future occasion :) Happy Christmas to you, as well!
This would be a lovely centrepiece for Christmas day brunch. The red and green cherries make it look so festive. (And delicious!) Happy holidays to you and your family Jennifer! So glad we had the opportunity to meet this year!
Thanks Leanne and yes, it was so great to meet you, too :) Merry Christmas!
You are an amazing baker Jennifer! This is so creative, and luscious and perfect for Christmas. I hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday. I could hurt myself on this beautiful loaf.
Thanks so much, Tricia and a very Merry Christmas to you and your family, as well :)