Saturday, April 7, 2012

Sweet Rolls for the Long Weekend

It seems that every time I have a little bit of time off, I make bread. I made cranberry buns last March break, fruit and nut swirl rolls and New Year's day and this Easter weekend, I made these lovely citrus sweet rolls with dried cherries and cardamom.

But .. but .. I have so many other exciting things to share with you. More yummy Asian treats, a comforting classic made vegan and low-fat, and a crispy crunchy addictive cracker that's the perfect vehicle for peanut butter and homemade Nutella ...

Alas, I shall be festive and proper for once in the my life and give you these sweet rolls as an alternative to the hot cross bun that's so traditional this time of the year. If you're not feeling the icing cross or the Catholic undertones that go with it, or if you're just looking for something sweet and different to play with for Easter brunch, these are the rolls for you. They're light and sticky sweet from the simple glaze that goes one top the second you pull them out of the oven, and they go perfectly with a strong cup of coffee in the morning. The lemon zest and juice really wake up the spices in these rolls, and give them an extra specialness that every holiday needs. The dried cherries are a real treat, but in a pinch, dried cranberries would be great too. I'm also betting that if you're so inclined, some shredded coconut and almond flakes wouldn't hurt at all.

Are you off again tomorrow? If you're as lucky as I am, make these sweet rolls and relax on your last day of this long weekend. If you're back to the grind, tuck this recipe away and wait for a rainy spring weekend when you're itching to turn your oven on and give you taste buds a kick out of bed.

Cherry Lemon Sweet Rolls
adapted from Crumb
makes 16 little rolls

3/4 cup of almond milk
2 tablespoons of butter (I used Earth Balance)
1.5 teaspoons of quick rising yeast
1/4 cup of natural cane sugar
2 tablespoons of yogurt (if you're keeping this vegan, just add two extra tablespoons of almond milk)
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
zest of two lemons, divided
1 1/4 cup of spelt flour
1 cup of all purpose flour (plus more for dusting)
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of cardamom
1/2 cup of dried cherries, chopped

juice of half a lemon
2 teaspoons of natural cane sugar

1. In a saucepan, place the almond milk and butter. Heat slowly until the butter melts and the milk becomes warm. Pour into a large bowl.

2. Add sugar and yeast to the bowl and mix well. Let it sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture becomes frothy. Add the yogurt, vanilla extract and half the lemon zest and mix until well combined.

3. Add the flours, cinnamon and cardamom, and mix until a sticky dough forms. On a floured surface, dump out the dough and knead, adding sprinklings of flour as needed. Knead for 5-7 minutes, or until your get a smooth elastic dough that's just a little bit sticky.

5. Place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover with a tea towel. Allow the dough to rise for 45 minutes. If you're using regular instant yeast (and not the quick rise), you'll have to double the rising times.

6. In the meantime, prepare your fruit filling and glaze. For the filling, simply combine the rest of the lemon zest with the chopped cherries. Mix it with your fingers really well, so that the zest is evenly distributed. If you're planning to add any extra goodies, now is the time! For the glaze, dissolve the sugar in the lemon juice. Taste the mixture and make sure it's to your liking. Add more sugar or lemon juice as needed.

7. Once the dough as rise, punch it down and give it a couple good kneads. Divide your dough in half. Working with half the dough ball, roll the dough out into a 10'6 inch rectangle. Sprinkle half the cherry filling over the surface of the rectangle. Roll it up nice and tight and cut them into 8 equal parts. Place them on a parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat for the other half.

8. Cover your rolls again with a tea towel and let them rest for about 25 minutes. Bake them in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes, or until the bottoms of the rolls get a nice golden brown colour. Pull them out of the oven and brush with the glaze.

9. Enjoy with your coffee and don't forget to share!

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