Sticky Lemon Buns with Lemon Cream Cheese Icing

After 15 or so years of living in different cities, my sister made the jump to Vancouver…much to my delight and surprise (but that’s another story). We are having an excellent time getting to know each other as adults and enjoying all of those time-honored sisterly traditions like lunch dates, movies and the occasional shopping trip. To our mutual surprise, we have also found ourselves sharing a lot of time in my kitchen…baking. I am not a big baker; that title goes to my mother. However, with the company of my sister, I am starting to appreciate the art of bringing four, butter and sugar together in all manner of ways. These gems were our Easter brunch experiment and they turned out beautifully, if I do say so myself.

Sticky Lemon Rolls with Lemon Cream Cheese Glaze
Adapted from The Kitchn

Lemon Roll Dough

  • 1 envelope (0.25 ounces, or 2 1/2 teaspoons) yeast
  • 3/4 cup milk, heated so it is 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
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, very soft

Lemon Cream Cheese Glaze

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

1) Get yourself a large bowl (if you have a stand mixer, use the bowl from that). Add your warm milk and sprinkle the yeast over top. Let it stand for a few minutes.

2) Stir in the butter, sugar, vanilla and one cup of flour. Then add the salt, nutmeg and lemon zest. Now add the eggs and the flour, bits at a time until you have a soft yet slightly sticky dough.

3) If you are using a stand mixer, switch to the dough hook and knead for about 5 minutes. If you do it the old fashioned way, dust your counter lightly with flour and give it a good knead (also for about 5 minutes.). No matter what the method, you should have a dough that is elastic and pliable at the end.

4) Take a large bowl and spray it lightly with vegetable spray. Add the ball of dough and smear it around until it is covered with the spray (you may give the top of a ball a bit of a spray as well). This will keep the dough from sticking when it rises. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a clean towel and allow it rise until it is doubled. It took ours about 45 minutes.

5) While you are waiting for the dough to rise, take a few minutes to make the filling. Grab a small bowl and mix the sugar, nutmeg, ginger and lemon zest. When it is well mixed, add the juice of one lemon.

6) Find a 13X9 inch baking dish and grease it lightly. Turn on the oven to 350 degrees F.

7) Now that you dough has risen, turn it out onto a lightly floured countertop. Using either your hands or a rolling pin, create a rectangle about 10X15 inches. Spread it evenly with the softened butter (leaving yourself a border of about a 1/2 inch) and then pour the filling mixture on top. Smear it around until your dough is evenly coated. Going the long way, roll up the dough tightly (so you have a 15 inch long log). Cut up the log into 12 rolls and pop them into your baking dish, cut side up.

8) Cover your rolls with a towel and allow them to rise for another half an hour or so, until they are puffy and look like they have nearly doubled in size. If you are making this the night before, you can now pop them in the fridge (tightly covered). Take them out and allow them to rise 30 minutes before you pop them in the oven.

9) Bake your rolls for about 35 minutes or so…they will start to brown ever so slightly on top.

10) While you are waiting for your rolls to finish baking, you can make the icing. Using an electric mixer, beat your softened cream cheese until it is relatively fluffy. Add the lemon juice and continue to blend. Finally, add the powdered sugar and mix until smooth.

11) When the rolls are done, smear liberally with the cream cheese icing. Serve while warm for most delicious results.

Enjoy!

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