1. Take three tablespoons of the flour and 1/2 cup of the milk and heat them in a small pan or pot, stirring often, until you have a soft pudding consistency, about seven minutes. Allow to cool.
2. Mix all but 1/2 cup of the remaining flour and the rest of the ingredients in a bowl, adding in the slurry. Mix by hand or with a dough hook in a mixer. If the dough is very sticky or tacky, add the remainder of the flour, one tablespoon at a time, until the dough comes together smoothly. Knead for eight to 10 minutes or until smooth and soft. Place in a buttered bowl and cover. If your oven has a proof setting, proof there, or in any warm spot, until dough has doubled in size, one and a half to two hours.
3. Mix filling ingredients and set aside in the fridge while the dough rises.
4. Once dough has risen, preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175 degrees Celsius) and make the goo: Combine butter and sugar in a small pot. When beginning to bubble, add corn syrup and simmer on low while you prepare your dough.
5. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to a rectangle that’s about 18×12 inches (46×30 centimeters). Spread the cream cheese filling over the top and roll up.
6. Prepare three eight-inch (20-centimeter) square pans. Add coarsely chopped pecans to your taste (I don’t like too many nuts, so 1/4 cup per pan was perfect for me) and divide the goo evenly among the pans.
7. Using a very sharp knife or unflavored floss, cut the rolled-up dough into 18 rolls. If the filling falls out slightly, it’s okay, just do the best you can to keep it all together. This is a trust-the-process situation. Place six buns in each pan and bake until the tops are just set, about 30 minutes. Allow to cool for two minutes, then flip upside down to a plate or platter to reveal the gooey pecan tops.
This recipe uses a Japanese technique called tangzhong, a cooked slurry that hydrates the dough and makes it very soft and slow to stale. Yes, it’s an extra step, but no one goes into cinnamon bun territory thinking it’s a one-bowl wonder, so just commit.