Today's topic is tortuous for somebody trying to diet. Generally, I'm not a huge sweet-eater at breakfast but these have triggered a tsunami-like craving. Chug some more water, and it will pass.

Mary Ellen Babilon of Walterboro recently asked about Philadelphia Sticky Buns. She cut out a recipe for them from The Philadelphia Inquirer about 35 years ago but has since lost it. She thought the request would be a long shot.

Not at all. Recipes rose from readers all over the Lowcountry.

Deidre Schipani, restaurant critic for The Post and Courier and a native of the city, e-mailed to say that these buns are found in every Philadelphia bakery. "Nothing quite like them away from the City of Brotherly Love."

Still, there were variations among the recipes, much like our own shrimp and grits.

Two readers, Evelyn Smith of Summerville and Joan Patterson of Beaufort, both send faded clippings of the same recipe. The headline reads: "These gooey delicacies are for those who laugh at calories."

I'm not laughing, I'm crying! But anyway, here goes.

Joan wrote, "This recipe was clipped from the Philadelphia Inquirer many years ago and is delicious. When I was a child growing up in Philadelphia, it was a family treat to be sent around the corner to Hassis Bakery after Sunday church and purchase these cinnamon buns 'light, with a lot of raisins' as my father would say. No other sticky bun recipe has ever come close!"

Editor's note: Like an upside-down cake, the golden "topping" for these buns is made on the bottom of the pans, so they are turned over for serving. When they come out of the oven, invert the pan on a board or plate and let stand a minute before removing the pan. Also, this recipe didn't specify, but it makes quite a few buns — as many as 24, I think.

Philadelphia Cinnamon Buns

1/4 cup warm water

1 package active dry yeast

Golden cane syrup (or molasses or honey)

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon sugar

1 cup milk, scalded

5 cups sifted flour, divided use

1/2 cup shortening

3/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

Softened margarine or butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, raisins, pecans (optional)

Put the warm water in a cup and sprinkle the yeast over it.

Prepare the pans for the buns: Use three 9-inch round cake pans; square or oblong pans will work, too. Butter the pans lavishly and pour in your favorite syrup, such as golden cane. Make it 1/4-inch deep in the pan. If desired, sprinkle a few broken nuts over the syrup.

Add the salt and 1 tablespoon of sugar to the milk and heat until tiny bubbles form around the edge, to "scald" it. Let cool to lukewarm. Stir in the yeast and then gradually beat in 2 cups of the flour. Beat it hard, cover and set aside to get bubbly.

Meanwhile, beat shortening, 3/4 cup sugar and eggs until very fluffy and light. When the yeast-flour mixture is "bubbly," beat the shortening mixture in, a big tablespoonful at a time.

When it is thoroughly beaten, start adding the remaining 3 cups of flour. Don't beat hard, just mix in well. The dough will be quite sticky. Cover and let stand out of drafts until double in bulk.

Turn out one-third at a time on a floured board. Roll out to a neat rectangle about 1/4-inch thick. Spread with softened butter as you might spread a slice of bread. Sprinkle thickly with brown sugar, some cinnamon, and drop raisins over it in a quantity to suit you. Then trail more syrup over it all.

Beginning at the long side of the rectangle, roll it up like a jelly roll. (If you leave a narrow margin uncovered with sugar and raisins, it will be easier to roll.)

With a sharp knife, cut the roll into pieces 3/4-inch wide and place them, side by side, just barely touching each other, in the syrup in the prepared pans. Repeat process with remaining dough.

Cover pans and lets buns rise to double in bulk. Place in a preheated 350-degree oven to bake 35-40 minutes, or until tops are beautifully browned. Turn out of pans as soon as taken from the oven.

Jeanie Lane of Kingstree sent a copy of a McCall's magazine recipe that she used to make on Christmas morning. It also is similar, but the yield is smaller: 12 buns. The recipe also is likely not as old, so the directions include more details.

Philadelphia Sticky Buns

For yeast dough:

1/3 cup milk

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup butter or margarine

1/4 cup warm water (105-115 degrees)

1 package active dry yeast

1 egg

2 1/2 cups unsifted all-purpose flour, divided use

For filling:

Butter or margarine, softened

Light brown sugar

1/2 cup pecan or walnut halves

1/2 cup chopped raisins

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

In a small pan, heat milk just until bubbles form around edge of pan; remove from heat. Add granulated sugar, salt and the butter; stir to melt butter. Cool to lukewarm (drop on wrist is not warm).

Check temperature of warm water with thermometer.

Sprinkle yeast over water in large bowl; stir to dissolve. Stir in lukewarm milk mixture. Add the egg and 2 cups of the flour; beat with electric mixer until smooth. Add the remaining 1/2 cup flour; mix with hand until dough is smooth and leaves side of bowl.

Turn out dough onto lightly floured pastry cloth. Knead until dough is smooth and blisters appear. Place in lightly greased large bowl; turn to bring up greased side. Cover with towel; let rise in warm place (85 degrees), free from drafts, until double, 1-1 1/2 hours.

Meanwhile, make filling: In small bowl, with wooden spoon, cream 1/4 cup butter with 1/4 cup light brown sugar. Spread on bottom and sides of a 9x9x2-inch square baking pan. Sprinkle with pecans or walnuts.

Roll dough on lightly floured pastry cloth or surface.

Roll dough into a 16x12-inch rectangle. Spread with 1/4 cup soft butter; sprinkle with 1/2 cup brown sugar, the raisins and cinnamon. Roll up from long side, jelly-roll fashion; pinch edge to seal. Cut crosswise into 12 pieces; place, cut side down, in pan.

Let rise, covered in warm place (85 degrees), free from drafts, 1-1 1/2 hours, until doubled (rises to top of pan). Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake 25-30 minutes, or until golden. Invert on board; let stand 1 minute; remove pan. Serve warm.

Dee Risso of Summerville shares a recipe for walnut buns that includes a touch of lemon and ginger. She also grew up in the Philly area and these are what her family made.

Walnut Sticky Buns

For dough:

1 envelope active dry yeast

2 tablespoon warm water

1/4 cup boiling hot milk

1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided use

3 tablespoons shortening

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 large egg

2 cups sifted all-purpose flour, divided use

1 teaspoon grated lemon peel

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Walnut pan coating (instructions follow)

1 tablespoon melted butter

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Sprinkle yeast over warm water; let stand 5 minutes to soften.

Meanwhile, stir hot milk, 1/4 cup sugar, shortening and salt together. When lukewarm, add egg, 1 1/2 cups flour, lemon peel, ginger and yeast. Beat with mixer at medium speed for 2 minutes. Stir in remaining 1/2 cup flour to make moderately soft dough. Knead a few second to smooth out dough. Cover and let rise in warm place until doubled.

Turn dough out onto floured board. Roll out to an 8x12-inch rectangle. Spread with melted butter and sprinkle with 1/2 cup nuts and remaining 1/4 cup sugar mixed with cinnamon. Roll up dough lightly, starting from the long side. Cut into 1-inch slices. Arrange cut side down in prepared pan (instructions below), 3 rolls in the center, 9 around edges. Let rise until doubled, about 40-50 minutes. Bake at 375 degrees about 25 minutes until browned and baked through. Loose edges and invert over plate. Let the pan rest on the rolls 1 minute so syrup drains.

Walnut Pan Coating

1/4 cup melted butter

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

2 tablespoon dark corn syrup

1 tablespoon water

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Stir together melted butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and water in a pan and cook until simmering. Turn into the baking pan and sprinkle with the walnuts.

Also thanks to Connie Richardson of North Charleston, Ginny White of Beaufort and Eloise Gatch of Walterboro.

Who's got the recipe?

--Ann Thompson of Mount Pleasant would like a "good Southern recipe for sausage cheese dip. My husband had it long ago and I'd love to find a version of this; very rich, good."

--Peter Ott of Summerville says his wife used to make a split pea soup with curry and they have lost track of the recipe. It also included ham and carrots.