Celebrate National Sticky Bun Day with a Venezuelan twist

Courtesy Harry's Pizzeria / Today
Happy National Sticky Bun Day!

You can thank early German settlers in Pennsylvania for creating the original sticky bun, that ooey, gooey cinnamon-laced, syrup-covered roll originally called “schnecken.” And while it remains a Philadelphia specialty to this day—along with cheese steak, scrapple and soft pretzels—the classic sticky bun, like so much of America, is being influenced by new waves of settlers. So in honor of National Sticky Bun Day on Feb. 21—as if we needed a dedicated day to celebrate such deliciousness!—we’re introducing you to the golfeado, Venezuela’s take on the delectable sweet roll.

NBC Latino: Celebrate National Margarita Day with these 4 great recipes

In South Florida, home to the US’s largest Venezuelan community as well as one of the hottest culinary celebrations in the country, this weekend’s South Beach Wine & Food Festival, golfeados are becoming ever more popular, as South American bakeries continue to pop up. But no golfeado has been received with quite as much fanfare as the one served during Sunday brunch at the city’s critically-acclaimedHarry’s Pizzeria, owned by award-winning chef Michael Schwartz, of celebrity-frequented Michael’s Genuine. Which might make you wonder: what’s a golfeado doing at a pizza joint?

NBC Latino: Want to add Latin flavor to your veggies? Click here

The answer is the restaurant’s rising star Chef de Cuisine, 39-year-old Manuel Sulbaran, who grew up in Merida, near the Venezuelan Andes, and attended culinary school in Caracas before moving to the US 11 years ago. Hand-picked by Schwartz to helm the pizzeria’s kitchen, Sulbaran is a self-proclaimed golfeado “fanatic” who never forgot the sticky buns of his childhood. “I used to go to the different bakeries in Merida and in Caracas and I’d try them one and after another,” he said. “I would search for the best golfeado.” So when Sulbaran was given the opportunity to design a brunch menu for the pizzeria a few months ago, he knew he wanted to introduce his guests to his anise- and cheese-laced obsession.

  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 ½ tablespoons fresh yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter, plus 4 tablespoons butter at room temperature
  • 4 ¼ cups tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 1/2 cups sugar cane, grated (panela or piloncillo)
  • 2 cups pecorino cheese, grated
  • 2 tablespoons anise seeds
  • 1 pound soft cheese, like fresh mozzarella or queso de mano, sliced to serve

1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F.

2. In a small saucepan, heat the milk over medium heat until it registers about 125˚F on an instant-read thermometer.

3. In a large mixing bowl combine the yeast, salt and sugar. Add the warm milk and melted butter and stir. Gradually add the flour and mix into dough, then add the eggs, mix, and then turn the dough on to a lightly floured surface. Knead until the dough is very soft, keeping the surface slightly floured to prevent sticking. With a rolling pin, spread it into a rectangular shape about 12 by 24 inches and ¼ inch thick. Rub the dough with the room temperature butter and sprinkle 1 ½ cups grated sugar cane, the pecorino, and anise seeds over the dough.

4. Beginning along one side, roll up the dough, pinching to seal. Position the roll seam-side down on the work surface and cut into 1-inch slices. Place the slices on a buttered cookie tray and let sit for about an hour in a warm, dark place.

5. In a small mixing bowl add the remaining 2 cups grated sugar cane and 1/2 cup water. Stir until dissolved.

6. Place the rested buns in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until light brown in color. Remove and glaze buns with the sugar mixture using a squeeze bottle if you have one, or drizzle with a spoon.

7. Place the slice of cheese on top, drizzle with more glaze, and serve warm. Makes 20 buns.

Betty Cortina, senior consulting web producer and Food Editor for, believes salsa (the condiment as well as the music) makes the world a more delicious place.