These rolls are amazing! These are my new go-to breakfast rolls. They are modeled after the classic cinnamon roll, with a buttery yeast dough flecked with nutmeg and lemon. Inside each roll is a rich filling of sugar and lemon that bakes into gooey, oozey sweet-tart deliciousness. The cream cheese glaze puts it over the top, with more lemon tartness and not too much sweetness.
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
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 counter-top. 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 13×9 inch baking dish with baking spray or butter. On a floured surface pat the dough out into a large yet still thick rectangle — about 10×15 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.
NOTES: * On lemon zest and naked lemons: This recipe calls for quite a few lemons, and while you use the juice of some of them, you will still be left with at least a couple naked lemons.