5 tsp. (2 packages) active dry yeast
2 1/4 cups lukewarm water (105°f)
1 tsp. plus 1/2 cup granulated sugar
8 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbs. salt
2 tbs. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 eggs, lightly beaten
for the glaze:
8 tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus 8 tbs. melted
2 1/4 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
2 tbs. dark corn syrup
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 to 1/2 cup heavy cream
about 2 1/2 cups coarsely chopped pecans, lightly toasted in a 350°f oven for 5 to 7 minutes
in a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over 1/4 cup of the water, stir in the 1 tsp. granulated sugar and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
in a large bowl, combine the remaining 2 cups water, the 1/2 cup granulated sugar and 4 cups of the flour. using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or using a wooden spoon, beat until smooth, about 5 minutes. add the yeast mixture and beat for about 2 minutes. add the salt, melted butter, eggs and the remaining 4 cups flour, and beat until smooth and elastic, 6 to 8 minutes. the dough will be sticky. transfer to a very large bowl and slip a large plastic bag over the top, tucking the open ends under the bowl and leaving plenty of air space. refrigerate overnight.
the next day, make the glaze: in a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the 8 tbs. butter and stir in 1 cup of the brown sugar, the corn syrup and salt until the sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes. remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. in a small bowl, stir together the remaining 1 1/4 cups brown sugar and enough cream to form a spreadable mixture.
generously grease 2 or 3 rimmed baking sheets with solid vegetable shortening. spread the butter-sugar mixture evenly over the prepared pans, then scatter about 2 tbs. of the pecans over the top.
divide the dough in half. on a well-floured work surface, roll out one half into a 12-by-15-inch rectangle. generously brush the top with half of the melted butter. spread on half of the sugar-cream mixture and sprinkle with half of the remaining pecans. beginning with a long side, roll up the dough and pinch the seam securely closed. cut into slices 1 inch thick and arrange, cut sides down, on the prepared baking sheets. repeat with the remaining dough. lightly cover with dampened kitchen towels and let rise until doubled in volume, 45 to 50 minutes.
preheat an oven to 400°f.
bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350°f and continue to bake, rotating the pans after 15 minutes to insure even baking, until browned, 20 to 25 minutes more.
immediately invert the pans onto wire racks. let stand for 5 minutes to set the caramel, then lift off the pans. let cool for at least 15 minutes before serving. makes 30 buns.