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Yvonne Ruperti’s Upside-Down Pecan Sticky Muffins

by Kristina Gill

My favorite recipe for sticky buns is by Lisa Yockelson.  I cut it out of the Washington Post food section 17 years ago and still have the clipping.  It is a yeasted dough which takes time, but is totally worth the effort, in fact the article was called “In pursuit of the sticky bun”.  For me, no sticky bun was worth the effort if not that one, until I saw this week’s recipe for upside-down sticky pecan muffins by recipe developer, Yvonne Rupert.  There may only be one thing I like more than perfect sticky buns, and that’s a one bowl recipe.  In fact, Yvonne was able to woo me, and edge her muffin recipe next to my favorite sticky bun recipe with three simple words– One Bowl Baking, which also happens to be the title of her next cookbook coming out in September. Yvonne’s recipe has all the same elements as the perfect sticky bun, but without the steps a yeasted dough takes.  Also, the baking time is very short, so even in the summer heat, you should be able to stand about 30 minutes at the coolest time of the day for this great reward!  -Kristina

Yvonne Ruperti appeared on the Emmy-nominated cooking show America’s Test Kitchen for three seasons and was a recipe developer and writer for Cook’s Illustrated magazine. She writes for the blog, Serious Eats, and is the author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Easy Artisan Bread and the forthcoming One Bowl Baking (Running Press), available in September.  She currently splits her time between Singapore, where she is tasting and experimenting with local ingredients, and New York City. Follow her on Twitter @yvonneruperti.

See Yvonne’s recipe after the jump!

Upside-Down Sticky Pecan Muffins
Makes 12

Craving a sticky-sweet pecan bun but need it like . . . right now? These muffins will hit the spot. A buttery brown sugar, honey, and pecan topping is baked at the bottom of a moist sour cream muffin, then flipped over after baking to reveal the gooey, nutty, topping. Don’t be tempted to skip the cupcake liners-the pecan topping may bubble over the sides without them. These are absolutely amazing served warm. Wrap well and store at room temperature up to two days.

Pecan Topping:

  • 6 tablespoons (3 ounces or 85 grams) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (22/3 ounces or 75 grams) packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) honey
  • 1 cup (4 ounces or 115 grams) pecans, chopped

Muffin batter:

  • 8 tablespoons (4 ounces or 115 grams) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup (31/2 ounces or 100 grams) granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk
  • 2/3 cup (160 mL) sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 ounces or 215 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce or 28 grams) pecans, chopped

Place an oven rack in the middle position. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Line a 12-cup muffin pan with cupcake liners. Set the muffin pan on a baking sheet.

To make the topping:
In a large bowl, whisk the melted butter with the brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, and honey until the mixture is smooth. Stir in the nuts and spoon into the cupcake liners.

To make the batter:

  1. Using the same large bowl, whisk the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, egg, and egg yolk, sour cream, and vanilla until combined.
  2. Add the flour, baking powder, and baking soda to the bowl, and stir until just combined. Stir in the chopped nuts.
  3. Scoop the batter into the cups. Spread the batter so that it covers the pecan mixture. Bake until golden and firm, about 17 to 19 minutes.
  4. Let the muffins cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a serving platter.
  5. While still warm but not hot, flip the muffins over and carefully remove the paper liner (it may be hot). Spoon any of the pecan mixture from the paper cup onto the muffin. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Take care to not over bake these muffins. If left in the oven too long, the pecan mixture may bubble over the sides of the pan.

Why Yvonne loves this recipe

I love sticky buns but traditional yeast risen buns take a long time to make and I don’t always have the patience. I like these Upside-Down Sticky Pecan Muffins because you get the warm, gooey, sweet satisfaction of a pecan bun but without the wait. Plus, the cupcake liners make it easy to spoon out every last bit of the sticky topping.


Recipe reprinted with permission from ONE BOWL BAKING: SIMPLE, FROM SCRATCH RECIPES FOR DELICIOUS DESSERTS © 2013 by Yvonne Ruperti, Running Press, a member of the Perseus Books Group.

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  • Now if I can just convert them to gluten free I’ll be good to go. I’m glad the physicians have discovered why I was just so sick all the time but it sure did put a damper on my easy enjoyment of food. Also, one of my greatest loves is baking. It’s my hobby as well as cake decorating which that I’ve been doing about 3 to 4 years now. I’ve been baking since a little nipper at my great-grandmother’s apron strings. To me baking is almost magical. You place this gloopy sloppy mess of a bunch of ingredients in a pan, place it in a hot oven and voila! Out comes (most of the time) an amazing, incredible goody. It’s a good thing I don’t care for sweets a whole lot otherwise doing all this baking for other people who CAN eat all my items would be too hard to bear. However, sticky buns all gooey with lots of nuts IS one of my few loves. I can’t wait for the day when eating gluten free is just a matter of substituting the correct flour. Life will be SO much easier…and yummy.

  • Hi Basketpam, I actually think it is quite easy to just substitute the correct flour for something as basic as muffins. There are a lot of online resources (blogs) that do exactly that. Also, there is simply gluten-free flour. Have a look at this post in our archives for gluten-free lemon eclairs by Nicole Hunn. I loved how absolutely easy it was to make, same as non-gluten free.

    Good luck and I hope you are able to make these this weekend!


  • I am obsessed with your One bowl baking book. I love all the recipes. I make the mango raspberry tart often and it get raves. Thanks for letting me use a bowl and a spoon..baking is so fun when I know I will be using your book to wow my guests.