Thursday, October 28, 2010

When life hands you lemons, make lemon rolls.

My husband and I once found ourselves stranded at the Minneapolis airport.  We had two choices for entertainment: play footsies with a senator in the men's room or cruise the food court.  We chose the latter.  

This happened to be a good choice, not only because glory holes in airport men's restrooms seem rather unhygienic, but also because the airport food court turned out to be the regional training center for Cinnabun.  We pressed our faces against the glass, watching Cinnabun trainees schmear gallons of cinnamon sugar and ginormous blocks of butter on dough.  Many people would have gone into sugar-shock just looking at the process, but I couldn't wait to get my hands on a fresh butter block Cinnabun.

I was reminded of this experience recently when considering this amazing sticky lemon roll recipe.  Would it involve industrial-sized blocks of butter?  Would it be delectable?  Would it make Larry Craig horny?

Sticky Lemon Rolls

Surprisingly, the recipe was more restrained than I expected.  Yes, there's cream cheese and butter and sugar, but not so much that I felt guilty serving . . . or eating it.  Plus I made the rolls with wheat flour (I ran out of AP flour), so in my mind, that makes the rolls healthy.

In any event, they are delicious.  Not too much work.  So bright with the scent and tanginess of the lemons.  And the glaze . . . ah the cream cheese glaze . . . is amazing.

Makes 12 large breakfast rolls

Lemon Roll Dough
  • 1 envelope (0.25 ounces, or 2 1/2 teaspoons) yeast

  • 3/4 cup milk, warmed to about 100°F or warm but not hot on your wrist
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, very soft
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 lemons, zested
  • 2 eggs
  • Sticky Lemon Filling
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
  • 2 lemons, zested and juiced *
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, very soft

Lemon Cream Cheese Glaze
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 lemon, zested

In the bowl of a stand mixer sprinkle the yeast over the warmed milk and let it sit for a couple minutes. With the mixer paddle, stir in the softened butter, sugar, vanilla, and one cup of the flour. Stir in the salt, nutmeg, and lemon zest. Stir in the eggs and enough of the remaining flour to make a soft yet sticky dough.

Switch to the dough hook and knead for about 5 minutes, or until the dough is elastic and pliable.
(If you do not have a stand mixer, stir together the ingredients by hand, then turn the soft dough out onto a lightly floured countertop. Knead the dough by hand (see this video for explicit instructions) for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the dough is smooth, pliable, and stretchy.)

Spray the top of the dough with vegetable oil, and turn the dough over so it is coated in oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a towel and let the dough rise until nearly doubled - about an hour.
In a small bowl, mix the sugar with the nutmeg and ginger, then work in the lemon zest with the tips of your fingers until the sugar resembles wet, soft sand. Stir in the juice of 1 lemon. (Reserve the juice of the second lemon for the glaze.)

Lightly grease a 13x9 inch baking dish with baking spray or butter. On a floured surface pat the dough out into a large yet still thick rectangle — about 10x15 inches. Spread evenly with the softened butter, then pour and spread the lemon-sugar mixture over top. Roll the dough up tightly, starting from the top long end. Cut the long dough roll into 12 even rolls, and place them, cut side up, in the prepared baking dish.

Cover the rolls with a towel and let them rise for an hour or until puffy and nearly doubled. (You can also refrigerate the rolls at this point. Cover the pan tightly with plastic wrap, and place it in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. When you are ready to bake the rolls, remove the pan from the fridge, and let them rise for an hour.)

Heat the oven to 350°F. Place the risen rolls in the oven and bake for 35 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into a center roll reads 190°F.

While the rolls are baking, prepare the glaze. In a small food processor (or with a mixer, or a sturdy whisk), whip the cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add the lemon juice and blend until well combined. Add the powdered sugar and blend until smooth and creamy.

When the rolls are done, smear them with the cream cheese glaze, and sprinkle the zest of 1 additional lemon over top to garnish. Serve while warm.


Try Anything Once Terri October 28, 2010 at 11:11 AM  

A Cinnabon training facility. NICE!

sandy October 28, 2010 at 1:32 PM  

lemon sticky rolls, sounds delicious.

BigAppleNosh October 28, 2010 at 4:19 PM  

A Cinnabon paradise! I thought that was only the stuff of dreams!

And a lemon roll, that's healthy right? Fruit? No? Work with me here.

Mrs. Hot Cocoa October 28, 2010 at 11:31 PM  

@ BigAppleNosh: Fruit and wheat flour. It's so wholesome it's practically a diet dish.

Woman with a Whisk October 29, 2010 at 9:15 AM  

What luck -- I have all of these ingredients in the fridge!

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