Caramel Spanish BunsWe found an intriguing recipe in Greg Patent’s, Baking in America, for Spanish Buns. When we went to the internet to learn more about them, we found only heritage recipes, often recipes originating a hundred years ago. Some were made with yeast and some with baking powder. We were intrigued with the concept of a cake made with yeast and started experimenting.

Though this is called “buns”, it is very cake-like. The recipe that follows is a derivative of Greg Patent’s recipe. To the modified recipe, we added a buttery brown sugar topping.

You’ll find this a delightful change of pace. And it’s quicker and easier than making sweet rolls.

Caramel Spanish Buns Recipe

This cake is easy to make. Though it is leavened with yeast, there is no kneading or double rising. Allow plenty of time for this cake. Once the batter is mixed and in the pan, it sits on the counter until the batter becomes bubbly—about an hour and a half in our test kitchen.

The caramel filling settles to the bottom while baking. We made this two ways: we left the cake in the pan and we inverted the pan while it was hot to release the cake. In the pan, the cake had a glossy finish with attractive fissures but it took a stiff spatula to remove the caramel bottom with the cake. Inverted, the cake reminded us of a pineapple upside down cake with the sticky layer on the top. (Though we didn’t try it, we think this would make a great pineapple-upside-down cake.)

This is probably best as a coffeecake. It is sweet and with a tender crumb, not unlike a muffin.


1/2 cup butter
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 packet instant yeast
1 cup milk
4 large eggs
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt

For the filling:

3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup butter


1. Melt the one-half cup butter in the microwave and set it aside to cool. Grease well a 9 x 13-inch baking pan.
2. Put one cup of the flour in the bowl of your stand-type mixer equipped with a dough hook. Add the yeast. Heat the milk to 110 degrees and add. With the dough hook, run the machine for thirty seconds to mix the milk with the flour to create a slurry. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each. Beat for a few minutes. The batter should be light and creamy. Add the rest of the flour, the first 3/4 cup brown sugar, the melted butter, nutmeg, extract, and salt. Mix at medium-high speed for about three minutes. The result will be a batter a little thicker than pancake batter. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan.
3. To make the filling, place the brown sugar, cinnamon, and flour in a medium bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry knife until the mixture is crumbly. Spread the filling evenly over the top of the dough.
4. Cover the batter and set it aside to rise until doubled with yeast bubbles appearing in the batter. This will take one to two hours depending on the conditions of your kitchen.
5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the covering. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the top is a rich brown and springs back when pressed slightly.

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