A Little Post Valentine’s Day Decadence

February 16, 2015


A Fascinating Sweet Roll

This isn’t my recipe; it comes from my friend Sukey, but it's so delicious that I'm passing it on.

Sukey prefers orange to cinnamon, and when she discovered candied bergamot in an Armenian grocery store, she was inspired to create this recipe. They're extremely citric; the floral orange filling perfumes every inch of this dough.

Beware: this is a recipe for when you feel like tackling something special. There are no shortcuts here. 

If you can track down the candied bergamot, you’ll be glad you did. But it’s not necessary. Same goes for the anise seed. And the glaze is so light, you could make it with any tangy dairy product you happen to have on hand: yogurt, sour cream, even thinned down labneh.

Sukey's Orange Sweet Rolls

1 1/4 cups milk

1 package active dry yeast

1/3 cup sugar, plus one pinch

2 tablespoons melted butter, plus one stick

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 egg, beaten

4 cups flour

1/4 cup brown sugar

zest of 4 oranges

1 teaspoon orange flour water

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 1/2 cup powdered sugar, divided

3 tablespoons finely chopped candied orange peel

2 tablespoons finely chopped candied bergamot (not critical; just add more orange peel if you can't find it.)

1 teaspoon anise seed

1 tablespoon buttermilk

Lightly heat the milk in a saucepan (it should be about blood temperature, but no more than 110 degrees). Pour yeast, warmed milk, and a pinch of sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer and allow it to sit about ten minutes, until the yeast begins to foam. 

Fit your mixer with a dough beater. (You can make the dough by hand, but fair warning: it requires quite a bit of kneading.)  Add the sugar, 1 teaspoon of the salt, 2 tablespoons melted butter, and the egg; mix to combine. Add the flour, cup by cup, and mix on medium-speed for about eight minutes. (If you’re doing this by hand, you’ll need to knead the dough for about 15 minutes, or until it takes on a smooth elastic sheen and can be stretched so thin it's transparent but does not tear.) Place the dough in a clean, well-oiled bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place for an hour and a half. 

Meanwhile, make the filling. Mix one softened stick of butter with 1/4 cup light brown sugar and the zest of 4 oranges until the mixture is light and creamy. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, orange flower water, vanilla, and 2 1/2 cups of the powdered sugar. Stir in the bergamot, orange peel and anise seed. 

When the dough has nearly doubled in size, roll out into a large rectangle, around 11 x 18 inches. If the dough is too stretchy to roll out, let sit for 10 minutes. Spread on filling, leaving 1/2 inch border. Roll into a tube, lengthwise, and cut into 12 buns. If you have un-flavored dental floss it makes a great dough cutter: run the floss under the roll and cross the ends to get a clean shear. Arrange buns in an oiled 9 x 13 pan, and chill in the refrigerator for at least five hours – or overnight. 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and allow the buns to come to room temp. Cook for 25 minutes; they should be golden. 

Make the glaze by mixing a tablespoon of buttermilk into the remaining cup of powdered sugar. Add a splash of orange juice. Brush glaze over warm buns and serve immediately. 

These are best just after they're baked. If your household can't finish a dozen rolls in a day, bake six and freeze the rest for another time. 

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