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Dog Team Tavern Sticky Buns: a recipe from My Vermont Table

DOG TEAM TAVERN STICKY BUNS (A Historic Vermont Recipe)

from My Vermont Table

The Dog Team Tavern was built in 1920s by Sir Wilfred and Lady Anne Grenfell in Middlebury, Vermont and was made a mission house in 1931. It became a tavern in 1936 and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2002. It was a place of local legend. It had catered to the likes of Eleanor Roosevelt and Robert Frost. And as the years passed, it was frequented by the students of Middlebury College on parent’s weekend. It was famous for its generous portions of prime rib and it’s “relish wheel.” But perhaps most loved were the sticky buns, served as an appetizer. How can you not love a joint that serves sticky buns as an appetizer? Tragically, the tavern burnt down in 2006 and has left a community longing for the sticky buns that once were. It’s around Thanksgiving that the online groups wax nostalgic for these sweet treats with recipes exchanged and notes passed. The thing I love most about these is that they are soft as can be from the use of starch water and mashed potatoes. Long live Dog Team Tavern sticky buns!

Makes 18 Buns

For the dough

12 ounces/340g Russet potatoes, peeled and cubed

4 ounces/113g unsalted butter

½ cup/99g granulated sugar

2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 packet/7g instant yeast (I use Red Star’s Platinum Instant Yeast)

2 large eggs, beaten

7 cups/840g all-purpose flour (I use King Arthur)

For the sticky

2 cups/426g light brown sugar

1 ½ cups/169g chopped walnuts

For the filling

2 cups/426g light brown sugar

8 ounces/226g unsalted butter, very soft

2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

For the dough

Boil the potatoes until fork tender. Drain, reserving 1 ½ cups of the cooking liquid and allow the reserve cooking liquid to cool. Place a drum sieve/tami over a large bowl and press the potatoes through the sieve with a bowl/ “D” scraper. Add ½ cup of the sugar and the salt to the potatoes and stir well to combine. Allow to cool.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, add the reserve cooking water and eggs. Whisk to combine. Add the potato mixture and then the flour and yeast. Mix until the dough just comes together. Add the butter, a small piece at a time, and continue mixing until the dough is very smooth and shiny, about 10 minutes. Transfer the dough to a well-oiled boil and turn the dough over to coat the dough completely in the oil. Cover with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to bulk ferment until doubled in size, about one hour. Transfer the dough to a parchment lined sheet pan, spraying the parchment well with non-stick cooking spray. Press the dough so that it’s a rough rectangle. Refrigerate to firm up the dough, about 1 hour.

Butter two 9” x 13” baking pans. Divide the brown sugar evenly among the pans. Spritz the brown sugar with enough water to make a thick, wet paste. Divide the walnuts between the two pans.

Divide the dough into two pieces. Roll each piece into a rough 18” x 14” rectangle, about ½ inch thick. In a mixing bowl, combine the 2 cups light brown sugar, cinnamon, and the soft butter. Mix to combine to create a thick paste. Spread half the butter/sugar/cinnamon mixture evenly over the dough, leaving a strip along one long edge naked. Roll up the dough, starting at the long edge opposite the clean edge. Pinch the seam to seal. Cut the roll into 18 even pieces. Arrange rolls in the pans, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to prove until almost doubled in size, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes or until the bun interior reads 200ºF on an instant read thermometer. Immediately unmold the buns onto two cooling rack lined sheet pans. Alternatively, roll the dough as instructed above and use all the filling. Cut the dough into 18 pieces, as instructed above. Put 9 pieces in each prepared pan.

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Nov 26, 2023

Thank you for this recipe for Dog Team Sticky Buns. I worked at the Dog Team as a waitress during the summers while I was in college in the mid-1970s - along with many other Middlebury College, University of Vermont and St. Michael's College co-eds. The sticky buns were a huge draw to the crowds that we served daily. We made the dressings and items for the relish wheels every morning, then served lunch followed by dinner. For this, we received about $10/week - before taxes. However, the tips were sufficient to pay the fall tuition bill. Thanks again for posting this recipe and the history behind the famous Dog Team Sticky Buns!


Alissa Hasia
Alissa Hasia
Oct 15, 2023

Thanks for sharing it looks very appetising. These buns remind me of vintage food pictures . As if mum just baked a delicious meal in the oven, the whole house is full of aroma and you want to taste it so badly but you have to wait until it cools down because your stomach will hurt, as mum says. I think it's so cool when memories can come flooding back just from one photo.

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