30 June 2010

Grab a fork, it's gonna get messy

Over the weekend when I thought for a moment I was feeling well again, I got a craving for these delicious rolls I had a few weeks ago. I had them at a friend's potluck dinner on a warm, sunny afternoon with kids buzzing everywhere. A neighbor, Heather, walked through the front door, apron still on, oven mits on her hands and set down a fresh-from-the-oven casserole dish of the most beautiful rolls I'd ever seen.

I asked if they were cinnamon roles, and she laughed saying that cinnamon was just too overdone. These rolls, she said, were lemon ginger.

This is the point where I really shouldn't have to write anything else. Sticky Lemon Ginger Rolls, as she called them, were enough to draw you in, just by name alone. I asked for the recipe multiple times, wanting to make clear it wasn't a polite, "Oh, I'd love this recipe," but a sincere, "Give me this recipe. NOW!"

I have to admit I was slightly intimidated by the recipe at first. It seemed so lengthy that it must be complicated. I was pleasantly surprised: No bit of it was too difficult. There were three major steps involved and some time to kill, but I somehow managed to squeeze it in between episodes of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" via Netflix, so, it's doable. I made the rolls the night before and let them hang out in the refrigerator until morning. I highly recommend this because not only will it yield you a fantastic breakfast with little work the morning of, but breaking up the work made it seem less intimidating.

This recipe does call for making your own candied ginger. It isn't hard, just combining water, sugar and sliced ginger over a little heat. I found this recipe was a reliable one. I did this several days in advance, popped the ginger (not coated in sugar) and its juice in a jar and kept it in the fridge. It's not bad to have on hand and can be added to a number of recipes such as muffins and pancakes.

My crack at this recipe yielded 20 rolls that were roughly three inches wide. I froze a few immediately after they cooled, and after a quick defrost in the microwave, they were equally delicious.

This recipe is without a doubt a keeper. Write it down, print it out, whatever you've got to do. And the dough for these rolls would work for any number of recipes -- cinnamon, if it's not too overdone for you, berries, cherries, dried fruits, nuts, whatever you can think of. Heather said she was thinking of a lime cherry combination. Let me just say, I hope I'm nearby again when those come out of her kitchen!

Sticky Lemon Ginger Rolls
By Heather Lehman


2 1/2 tsp yeast

3/4 cup milk (warmed to 100 degrees or so, but not too hot)
1 stick butter - very soft (microwave if you have to, but left out to soften is better)
1/4 heaping cup white sugar

1 1/2 tbsp vanilla
1/2 to 1 tsp salt

1 tsp nutmeg

2 eggs

zest of 2 large lemons

4 1/2 cups flour at the ready (you may or may not use all of it)

sticky filling

2 cups white sugar
juice of 2 large lemons and zest of 2 more large lemons
1 1/2 cups candied ginger (see recipe link below)

½ packet, or 4 ounces, cream cheese

4 tbsp soft butter

1packet cream cheese, softened
Juice of 1 large lemon and zest of 1 large lemon – or more

1 to 2 cups powdered sugar


Put yeast in a large bowl and stir in warmed milk. Let rest for a little while. Stir in soft butter, sugar, vanilla and one cup of flour. Mix in salt, nutmeg, and lemon zest. Mix in eggs and second cup of flour until all flour is combined into sticky, soft dough. Add 2 cups of flour and knead dough until pliable and stretchy – if dough remains too tacky, add remainder ½ cup of flour. Kneading should take 5 to 7 minutes – don't overwork this dough!

Rub down bowl with vegetable oil and lightly coat the dough ball with oil. Cover bowl with plastic bag and towel and let rise until doubled (roughly 1 hour). This dough is fairly forgiving and you can start in on the rolling after 40 minutes but don't let it sit longer than 1 ½ hours.

While dough is rising make the filling. Mix sugar, nutmeg, ginger in a bowl or food processor. Mix in juice of one lemon until mixture is like wet sand. Add cream cheese until mixture is uniform but still grainy. If you don't use a processor, really make sure your ginger is fairly finely chopped.
Lightly butter baking dishes. Two mid-size baking dishes would work or one standard sheet tray or cookie sheet with a rim.

Lightly knead the risen dough and divide into two equal pieces. Turn out one piece on a floured surface and lightly roll out into a rectangle of about ¼ to ½ inch thick. Rub down the dough with ½ of the softened butter (2 tbsp) and then rub the dough with ½ of the sticky filling. Starting at the long side, tightly roll up the dough into a tube. Cut tube into slices - no more than 2 inches per slice - and set them on buttered baking dish or tray so that they are close but not touching one another. Repeat with second half of dough and butter and filling.

At this point you can refrigerate the rolls for later use by covering tightly with wrap. They will stay good for at least 24 hours. Otherwise, lightly cover and let rise for at least an hour – they will double in size which is why you don't want to pack them in too tight after slicing.
While rising, heat oven to 350 degrees and place risen rolls on mid rack for 30 to 35 minutes. It is very useful to have a thermometer read on these rolls – when they hit a center temperature of 190 degrees they are good to pull out of oven.

Mix all glaze ingredients together – should be pourable mixture but not too thin. I prefer a lot of glaze, but you may not. For less glaze, use the 1 cup powdered sugar and juice of 1 lemon. For more, use more lemon juice and powdered sugar but not more cream cheese.

Candied ginger recipe by David Lebovitz.


Renate said...

Wow, these rolls look amazing! Years ago I had something like this at a pastry shop and it was extremely good. It had tiny raisin bits (probably quartered or something- though that sounds like a pain to do) and chopped almonds. I haven't forgotten that roll, and now I think I can just about duplicate it! Yay, I'm so happy! I just checked out your blog today for the first time, because of your comment on Molly's blog. (Isn't she the best?)

I like your recipes and will keep coming back to check out what you're up to. That strawberry slaw recipe looks good too. My mother-in-law puts fresh pineapple pieces in her slaw, and the first time I had it, I wasn't so sure... but I decided it really works. Go figure.

Good luck with your blog. You're doing a great job!

Amy said...

Thanks, Renate. These rolls are delicious! Chopped raisins -- hmm, maybe they were currants? If not, let's hope they used a food processor! Either way, sounds great!