Light Sweet Potato Streusel Buns (Whole Grain)

DSC_2892 Sticky buns. They bring to mind the people who have stuck by me in my life. My husband and my two children are the people who love me, care for me and will always be by my side. I am an incredibly lucky individual to be surrounded by such beautiful souls and unconditional, constant love. Always count on, and express gratitude towards, the people who have loved and supported you. Do not trouble your thoughts with those who have not. It’s the special, kind people who make your life beautiful – and allow you to wake up to each day with a big smile and warm heart. DSC_2886 My mother passed away yesterday. I did not know her well, but I feel a profound sense of loss and sadness. I find myself baking early in the morning and often. DSC_2881 There is something incredibly comforting about being one with the kitchen. I can’t really explain why, but everything makes more sense when I am whisking. Of course, the smells of a a hot oven, filled with rising goodies, are equally reassuring and heart warming.DSC_2895 My mother was a brilliant and vibrant woman. Her life ended far too early and sadly. She died of esophageal cancer at the age of 64. Though she is gone, she made her genetic imprint on the world. She passed on her DNA to me, her daughter, and my children, her two grandchildren. DSC_2877 Her passing reminds me of how fortunate I am to have my small but mighty family, who stick by me, and who I love more with each passing day. It also reinforces how short and precious life is. I hope to do more with my life tomorrow than I did today. I aspire to treasure the gorgeous gift life is: both my own life and the lives of my treasured family. DSC_2888 The sticky buns are a crowd pleaser. Everyone in our little family enjoyed them, especially Littlest Guy and Snu Magoo! These Light Sweet Potato Streusel Buns are whole grain, reduced sugar and low in fat. There is no sacrifice in flavor, texture or taste. They will win your heart (and your stomach). DSC_2880 The buns are incredibly moist and perfectly “sticky.” The spices in the streusel are warm and comforting, reminding me of the smell of a winter morning. Some buns are overly buttery or sweet, but these are just right (this description brings to mind the porridge in Goldilocks and the Three Little Bears: “Just Right!”). DSC_2876 When I reheat the gooey treat the next day in the oven, I like to add a pat of butter or Earth Balance and a drizzle of pure maple syrup. It takes the warm pastry to new heights. This week, I received a gift of goat butter from a dear friend. It was the perfect addition to a “morning after” bun.

The buns are easy to make, though they do require a bit of love and tender care. Make them the night before breakfast and bake-off in the morning. Simply allow the pan to come to room temperature while the oven preheats. Or, start the process on a lazy weekend morning, and they will be ready in time for brunch.



Sweet Potato Spiced Streusel Buns (Lactose-Free, Whole Grain)

Adapted from a recipe at Cooking Light

Ingredients for buns:

  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 2 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour, divided, plus more, for flouring your work surface
  • 1/2 cup sweet potato purée
  • 1/2 cup 1% organic, lactose-free low-fat milk
  • 1/4 cup Earth Balance buttery sticks or butter, melted
  • 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons fine salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon each: ground nutmeg and ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Cooking spray
  • 3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Ingredients for glaze:

  • 2 Tablespoons chilled butter, cut into very small pieces
  • 3/4 cup sifted powdered sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon hot water
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 Tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • a pinch of cinnamon, 1/8th to 1/4th teaspoon, to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped, roasted pecans, to sprinkle on top of glaze


  • Dissolve the yeast in warm water in a large bowl. Allow to stand for five minutes.
  • Spoon flour into dry measuring cups and level with knife. Add two cups flour, pumpkin and all the ingredients through the cinnamon to the bowl.
  • Beat with a mixer on medium-speed until the batter is smooth.
  • Turn the batter out onto a floured surface. While kneading, add the remaining  3/4 cup of flour, a tablespoon at a time, until the batter becomes a “tacky” dough, does not stick to hands and you can form a ball. You may need to use slightly more or less than 3/4 a cup flour. This kneading process should last for about ten minutes.
  • Put the dough in a large bowl sprayed with cooking spray. Turn dough to coat. Cover and allow to rise in a very warm place until double in size, about an hour.
  • Punch the dough down. Cover again and allow to rise for thirty minutes more.
  • Mix the 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, brown sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Cut in the butter with two knives until the mix is a very coarse meal.
  • Punch the dough down. Then, cover and let rest for 5 minutes. Next, roll the dough into a rectangle on a floured surface, about 12×10 inches.
  • Sprinkle the dough evenly with the brown sugar mixture. Then, roll up the rectangle tightly, starting with a longest edge. Press firmly to get rid of any air pockets.
  • Pinch the seam and ends of the dough to seal well.
  • Cut roll into twelves slices, approximately one inch each. Place the slices in a 9-inch, circular cake coated well with cooking spray. Cover and let the buns rise 30 minutes or until they doubled in size.
  • Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  • Bake the rolls at 375°F for 20-25 minutes, until they are a light gold hue and firm when tapped. Place the pan on a wire rack. Cool for ten to fifteen minutes in the pan.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the glaze, combine the powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon hot water (or more, if needed), and vanilla extract in a small bowl. Stir vigorously with a whisk until silky smooth.
  • Drizzle glaze evenly over buns and serve them nice and warm. Whisk in the maple syrup and and 1/8th to 1/4th teaspoon cinnamon, to taste.
  • Drizzle glaze evenly over buns, sprinkle with pecans, and serve nice and warm.

*You can prepare the buns the night before and bake them the next morning. Just allow your cake pan to come to room temperature while the oven heats up.

©Shanna Koenigsdorf Ward, (2013-2014), unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author, Shanna Koenigsdorf Ward, and/or owner is strictly and completely prohibited.


51 thoughts on “Light Sweet Potato Streusel Buns (Whole Grain)

  1. The love of a good family is something to treasure, indeed; enjoying sticky buns with the family just makes it that much sweeter. My deepest sympathies to you and your family, Shanna. I am baking virtually alongside you and sending you lots of hugs. ~Ngan

  2. I know what you mean about the therapeutic value of baking and cooking for family and friends. And as for this recipe, thanks for giving me a good reason to make sticky buns – they sound more nutritious and tastier than the usual overly sweetened one.

  3. Dear Shanna, I am so sorry for your loss. It is an amazing comfort that you have your husband and your kids (and the one on the way) when you think of the cycle of life. I’m also sorry that you didn’t know your mom that well. Life is so strange. These sticky buns look amazing and so a propos because they stick, like love, like lasting memories and they are sweet. Wishing you strength and love. Please feel free to email me. Un beso. PS your kids are adorable.

  4. My dearest Shanna, so sad to hear about your mother… It’s family like the one you’re surrounded by what provides us with the strength to carry on.
    Those buns are the perfect treat for moments like these, I’m sure, and for any moment one needs the reassurance of nice and comfortable things around.
    Great recipe; I adore yeast buns and these meet all the necessary ingredients to become a winner from beginning to end!
    Un abrazo muy grande para ti y tu preciosa familia ❤

  5. My thoughts are with you Shanna at this sad time. It is so nice to have a loving family around to support you through what will be a long, difficult time.
    Stay as strong as needs be but, don’t be afraid to let go.

  6. So sorry to hear about your mother Shanna. It is good to know you have your little ones and dear hubby. I know my family helps me get through everything too. And as for baking, it is so therapeutic. It is nice to find joy in baking and know at the same time that your are providing your family with a nutritious morning treat.

  7. My sincerest condolences on the loss of your mother. I think when we lose a parent it stirs something inside of us (especially if we ourselves are parents) where we begin to reflect on how we were raised and what we hope to pass onto our children. I did a lot of thinking when my Dad passed away a few years ago.
    What sweet faces your littles have. And oh, those gorgeous blue eyes! I’m sure the sweet potato streusel buns were a hit and I’ll have to add them to my “Shanna recipe to-do list!”

  8. what a set of photos! You worked especially hard on this one 🙂 Those rolls look delish and I totally get that the sweet potato flavors would be just right for sticky buns. This is brilliant–healthy and delish.

    And of your mother’s passing:My heart goes out to you, but I am also amazed at your bravery and willingness to look past hurts, etc. You are an incredible woman, Shanna, and a fine example to those lucky enough to know you so closely. Blessings to Snu, Littlest, Abba , and you.

  9. Shanna…you and your family have my deepest sympathy. I’m so sorry for your loss… and am so happy to know that you have your loving husband and beautiful children to support you through such a sad and difficult time.
    Your children are absolutely beautiful, and to be honest, I found myself scrolling through the photos enthralled with those big gorgeous blue eyes and beautiful faces before I realized that I was passing by your words. I had to go back and read, and was sorry to read such sad words.
    The sticky buns are the perfect thing… so good for the soul.
    Take care…I’m thinking of you..

  10. Beautiful photos ~ such a great thing to see such wonderful kids enjoying their mom’s cooking. From experience I know that nothing is better!

  11. Shanna, I am so sorry for your loss. My condolences to you and your family. It brings me comfort to know that your husband and children surround you with love and support during this difficult time. Love and hugs to you.

  12. Oh Shanna, I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. Take comfort in the wonderful memories that you have of her. Share those memories with your own children and cherish the time you have with the ones you love. Thinking of you…Linda

  13. I’m so very sorry, Shanna, to learn of your Mother’s passing. She was far too young to be taken from you and this post is such a loving tribute. My sincere condolences to you and your family.

  14. I’ve found that cooking is great for catharsis and there’s something to be said for tempering sadness with sweet homemade treats. A beautiful post and beautiful pictures (also your children are just too cute!).

  15. I know I haven’t posted on here before, but extraordinary events can lead me to step out of the shadows.

    Many of you, particularly the regulars, as I think of you, may not know how helpful it has been for Shanna to be able to share her passion for making wonderful food for our family. With my hours, I do not get to support her in the way that she supports my career…so each comment you make serves as an affirmation of her talent as a writer that goes back two decades. And I can attest first-hand to her talent as a creator of delicious dishes and desserts! She deserves much more than I am able to give, and at a time like this, every bit of help and support from each of you means even more.

    I knew Shanna’s mother even less than she did, but I am grateful to her for having had the good fortune to give birth to my wife. Perhaps it doesn’t seem possible that someone could be as generous, patient, and loving as Shanna. As her lucky, lucky husband, I assure you: she is amazing. In the midst of her loss, she spent time baking for friends she wished to thank for recent kindness. That’s simply who she is. She raises our children with a tenderness that warms my heart each time I am fortunate enough to be around to watch them in her loving care. She sacrifices time to help friends, whether after a recent surgery or to celebrate a small triumph in life. Shanna is the kindest, most giving person I have ever met, and I am grateful for each kind word–and not just the condolences–you each have written in the past.

    Thank you from my entire family, and please help me give Shanna as much love and support as you can spare.

  16. Oh, Shanna! I am deeply sorry for your loss. I can sense the sadness in your words. My heart goes out to you and your family. I feel like jumping on the plane to see you, so I could give you a hug. I am glad that you are surrounded with a loving and caring family to get you through this difficult times.
    These sticky buns are absolutely gorgeous and delicious!!! They look moist and the glaze is just right. Definitely perfect and a crowd pleaser. My mouth is watering. I want. 😀
    Take good care, Shanna. ❤

  17. Oh no! I’m so sorry to hear about your mom Shanna! The sweet potato streusel buns sound very comforting, and a good food equivalent of a hug (which I hope you are getting plenty of). Thinking of you and your family during this difficult time.
    ~ Melissa

  18. Shanna, I nominated you for five awards! Congratulations! If you wish to see the others I nominated, please check out my recent post. If you wish to accept any or all of the awards, you may check out the ones who nominated me. I write a thank you for the awards, list others who are worthy of the awards and then, mention if there are any facts you wish to seek about me, rather than my listing them, please look at other posts! I rebel a little but still help out the ones who nominated me and give a few people who are ‘new to my awards’ lists, a chance to have a few new visitors. Enjoy! Smiles, Robin

  19. I guess this should have been on another one of your posts, If you wish to edit this out since I should have expressed my sadness and condolences of the loss of your mother, please delete my cheery awards nominations’ comments. I am sad that you did not know her well, wish you and your family memories and comfort that surround you with their love. Hugs, Robin

  20. I’m really sorry hearing about your loss. You wrote a such beautiful and sweet post Shanna. I’m sure that your lovely family will bring you all the confort you need know. Baking can be a good way to exorcise the sorrow.
    Hugs, Margherita

  21. Shanna, I’m sorry to hear about your mother passing away, it is always really sad when someone that is so special to you passes away. On the other hand I’m glad you find strength and love in your beautiful family, (and will be having another member soon!). I’ll write you an email soon, meanwhile tomorrow I have a piano concert to do so bear with me. Sending you lots of hugs and thinking of you. I hope you can feel a bit of love from Bcn too. xx

  22. Thank you for sharing with us Shanna! Your words and insight brings comfort to your readers too. You express yourself beautifully and the sticky buns are a perfect metaphor for a time like this, especially the way your interpreted it. Sorry for your loss. I lost my grandmother to the same cancer, and then my mom to a different type of cancer. I didn’t know my grandmother too well, but, it was a very sad time for me. I was extremely close to my mom and even though it was 10 years ago it is still excruciatingly sad for me. You are right, our own family brings us such beautiful unconditional, constant love. Much needed. And I love how you took the bun right out of the middle of the baking tin! Classic.

  23. Dear Shanna, sorry to hear that your mother has passed away 😦 Our prayers and thoughts are with you and your lovely family. We are glad you are surrounded by your beautiful children and husband in this difficult time. Sending a big hug from all the way Europe 🙂 Btw lovely pictures, your children are so adorable. This Streusel buns looks incredible tasty!!! No doubt we are going to try this recipe. Thanks for sharing!

  24. Hello dear, so sorry to hear of your loss…it’s not easy to admit that you didn’t know her well .. when I read this, I felt something in common … me too, i can say. however, I think that admitting this doesn’t change your feeling of loss…I agree that be surrounded by love it’s a great strenght to come over so many obstacles.
    My deepest condolences. A big hug. Cris

  25. These buns look delicious Shanna. And you and I do have another thing in common in addition to cooking and blogging – just like you I lost my mom too just before she turned 60. I was also very close to her and so losing her did teach me to love every moment of life and to always remember to count my blessings. Take care Shanna and I hope you feel better. A big hug- Indu

  26. So sorry for your loss, Shanna. Having family around is certainly important, and it’s great how you have your family to support you.
    These sticky buns look divine! I love how you incorporated sweet potatoes into this already delicious treat. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  27. Shanna, thank you for sharing your wisdom and keen insight on how death quite often leads us to contemplate the beautiful gift of life. Your kind spirit is an inspiration to so many. Your family and friends are blessed. Much love, comfort and peace to you. Keep whisking. ~ Martine

  28. Sorry about your mom; losing a parent is tough. My dad passed away a few years ago, and I miss him terribly. I have many fond memories that I think of often. These rolls look great. I love my rolls with butter too; the saltiness of the butter marries with the roll’s sweetness making a lovely taste sensation in your mouth.

    1. Sharon, I am sorry to hear about your dad. That must have been (and remains) so difficult for you. I read in your blog that he was in the Air Force; thanks to your family for your service. Yes, butter makes *everything* better, particularly if the it echoes the butter already in the rolls! 🙂

  29. Hello Shanna dear,

    Sorry I’ve been a bit MIA, giving up FB for Lent makes it even harder to keep in touch. I hope that you and your family are doing better; a loss of any family member is always hard. I too find that I channel my emotions into baking but I tend to bake when I am happy. I’ve never thought about sweet potato in a streusel which is super intriguing. Unfortunately most of my baking things are packed and so I am limited to what I have in a bread pan and a 9×13 cake pan. Love your blog entries and thinking of you dear. xox*

  30. My sincere and heartfelt condolences on the passing of your dear mom. May her soul rest in eternal peace. Thanks so much for sharing on sticky buns and the need for families and friends to stick together. I love the addition of sweet potatoes, a favourite ingredient of mine. I wish you a peaceful time. Best …Liz

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