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Recipe Finder: Philadelphia-style sticky buns

Jeannette Kendrick of Hinsdale, N.H., was in search of a recipe for making Philadelphia-style sticky buns. She said she once had a recipe that came from a holiday issue of a women's magazine in the 1980s but "a while back, the hubbie accidentally threw away my magazine, and I've been searching for the recipe ever since."

Lucy Kingston of Radnor, Pa., sent in a copy of a recipe for Philadelphia sticky buns that she said came from an issue of McCall's magazine in the 1980s. She said that like cheesesteak, this particular type of cinnamon bun is considered a Philadelphia specialty and has been enjoyed there for generations. These buns are similar to the snail-shaped bun called Schnecken that were brought to this country by German and English settlers to the Philadelphia area in the 19th century. The nuts and raisins in the filling and the extra stickiness are not found in most other cinnamon buns.

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The McCall's recipe, which bills itself as the true Philadelphia-style sticky bun, is fairly straightforward as long as you are prepared to wait for the dough to rise twice. The whole process can take close to four hours start to finish. The result is a sticky cinnamon bun with a lovely light and airy inside and a slightly crispy outside that has a tremendous amount of flavor.

Feb. 21 is the unofficial National Sticky Bun Day, but no need to wait until then to give this recipe a try. These deliciously decadent, gooey morsels are sure to please any day of the year. If, by some miracle, you have any left over, the buns reheat very well in the microwave.

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Requests

Anne West of Ruxton would like to have the recipe for a chicken dish that was served at a recent gathering. She said that the boneless chicken breasts had been stuffed with a filling of wild rice, tomatoes, spinach and perhaps some other ingredients, and were then rolled, tied and baked. The breasts were sliced into pieces before serving so that the stuffing could be seen in the middle of each slice. She said it was served at room temperature and was very tasty and presented beautifully.

Philadelphia sticky buns

Makes 12 buns

For yeast dough:

1/3 cup milk

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup butter or margarine

1/4 cup warm water (105-115 degrees)

1 package active dry yeast

1 egg

2 1/2 cups unsifted all-purpose flour, divided use

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For filling:

1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened, divided use

3/4 cup light brown sugar, divided use

1/2 cup pecan or walnut halves

1/2 cup chopped raisins

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

In a small pan, heat milk just until bubbles form around edge of pan; remove from heat. Add granulated sugar, salt and the butter; stir to melt butter. Cool to lukewarm (drop on wrist is not warm).

Check temperature of warm water with thermometer. (It should be 105-115 degrees)

Sprinkle yeast over water in large bowl; stir to dissolve. Stir in lukewarm milk mixture. Add the egg and 2 cups of the flour; beat with electric mixer until smooth. Add the remaining half-cup flour; mix with hand until dough is smooth and leaves side of bowl.

Turn out dough onto lightly floured pastry cloth. Knead until dough is smooth and blisters appear. Place in lightly greased large bowl; turn to bring up greased side. Cover with towel; let rise in warm place (85 degrees), free from drafts, until mixture doubles, 1 to 11/2 hours.

Meanwhile, make filling: In a small bowl, use a wooden spoon to cream 1/4 cup butter with 1/4 cup light brown sugar. Spread on bottom and sides of a 9-by-9-by-2-inch square baking pan. Sprinkle with pecans or walnuts.

Roll dough on lightly floured pastry cloth or surface.

Roll dough into a 16-by-12-inch rectangle. Spread with 1/4 cup soft butter; sprinkle with 1/2 cup brown sugar, the raisins and cinnamon. Roll up from long side, jellyroll-fashion; pinch edge to seal. Cut crosswise into 12 pieces; place, cut side down, in pan.

Let rise, covered in warm place (85 degrees), free from drafts, 1 to 11/2 hours, until doubled (rises to top of pan). Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake 25-30 minutes, or until golden. Invert on board; let stand 1 minute; remove pan. Serve warm.

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