1. In a small bowl, dissolve 1 teaspoon sugar and yeast in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Warm the milk in a small saucepan until it bubbles, then remove from heat. Mix in 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup butter and salt; stir until melted. Let cool until lukewarm.
2. In a large bowl, combine the yeast mixture, milk mixture, eggs and 1 1/2 cup flour; stir well to combine. Stir in the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.
3. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
4. While dough is rising, melt 3/4 cup butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in 3/4 cup brown sugar, whisking until smooth. Pour into greased 9x13 inch baking pan. Sprinkle bottom of pan with 1/2 cup pecans; set aside. Melt remaining butter; set aside. Combine remaining 3/4 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup pecans, and cinnamon; set aside.
5. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, roll into an 18x14 inch rectangle. Brush with 2 tablespoons melted butter, leaving 1/2 inch border uncovered; sprinkle with brown sugar cinnamon mixture. Starting at long side, tightly roll up, pinching seam to seal. Brush with remaining 2 tablespoons butter. With serrated knife, cut into 15 pieces; place cut side down, in prepared pan. Cover and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in volume. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375*F.(190*C.).
6. Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool in pan for 3 minutes, then invert onto serving platter. Scrape remaining filling from the pan onto the rolls.
My Update Note: Here is how we rolled tight buns. Make sure you roll your dough out to 1/4". Apply butter evenly, then sugar/cinnamon mixture. Holding the rolling pin, gently roll over the sugar/cinnamon mixture. At the beginning of the roll only 1/2" of dough and pinch down. Now you must begin rolling from each corner, middle, working your way back and forth. Curve your corners toward the center to avoid too much overlap (exess) IMPT: after about 2-3 rolls, carefully lift up each portion and pull away from you, this will "tuck" in the dough, be careful not to tear the dough. A lot to remember, but after you get the hang of it, it's like second nature and you will have picture perfect cinnamon rolls and sticky buns.
Here's a trick for cutting the rolls without mashing the dough: take a piece of thread, slide it under the roll, cross the thread and pull quickly. It works like magic, and you don't have a sticky knife to clean up afterwards!
Just a tip: the longer you let them rise, the fluffier and better they taste!
I didn't add the pecans to the brown sugar/cinnamon mixture that went inside the rolls. I would suggest not melting the butter that you spread on the inside before you roll it up. If you just spread on a thin layer of softened butter you should end up with a more ooey-gooey feel because you'll have more butter on the inside to melt, which will make the caramel more gooey. When you use the melted butter you don't get a lot of butter on the inside & I found this tended to give me a dryer--but still good--caramel roll. I will try again, but next time I won't melt my butter. Have made a couple more times & it definitely works better not to melt the butter for the inside and then I double the caramel for the bottom. But does need some adjustments.
I did used a 9 X 13 baking pan and I made a little extra filling. In addition I made some simple white icing and I have to say this is one of the best sticky buns I have ever had; and I've had quite a lot over the years. I never thought I'd make a world class sticky bun but I was wrong. I would highly suggest taking extra time and being extra careful when reading the directions. In addition, I allowed my first rise to go for approximately 2 hours and it came out perfect. If you want great sticky buns that will knock the socks off your friends and family, this is it! Happy Holidays.!