My daughter is in the middle of her finals, marking the end of her high school career. She’s pretty calm and undoubtedly doing well in her exams. There’s not much we can do for her at this point but in an attempt to show some support, I asked what she would like for breakfast. Normally, nine days out of ten, she starts her day with a berry smoothie or muesli, but this time she asked for cinnamon rolls. Well, cinnamon rolls are my comfort food of choice, too, though for me the comfort is equally in the process of making them. The kneading, proofing, rolling out, filling, rolling up and proofing again calm my nerves which is why cinnamon rolls were what I made when we got the sad news we were losing our garden 5 years ago. But hey, all’s well that ends well – if I knew then what a beautiful garden we’d have in 5 years time, I wouldn’t have been sad at all. (I’m not sorry about the rolls though).
In the past I made cinnamon rolls many different way, some of my favourite variations incorporating seasonal fruit – I made them with black& red raspberries and blueberries, so it was only a matter of time before I’d get to strawberries. But because the taste of garden strawberries is less concentrated and they have a high water content, I roasted them first. It is an extra step but not difficult and it makes all the difference. I also made these rolls ‘triple cinnamon’, adding cinnamon at every step: in the dough, to the strawberries when roasting them and to the filling too. What can I say – I like cinnamon.
Note on the dough: I have tried many different recipes but I always come back to this one with sour cream. Though sour cream is an ingredient that you might not always have on hand, it makes for a more tender dough!
Roasted strawberry cinnamon rolls
900 g (2 pounds) strawberries
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
500 g (3 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour plus more for rolling out
3 tbsp sugar
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cardamom
125 ml (1/2 cup) warm milk
20 g fresh yeast or 2 ½ tsp active dry yeast
115 g (½ cup) butter, room temperature
2 eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
½ cup sour cream
3 tbsp butter
80 g (1/2 cup) raw cane sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
First, roast the strawberries:
Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius (375 F). Hull the strawberries and cut them in half (or quarters if large). Line a baking sheet with parchment, add the strawberries. Mix the sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle it over the strawberries. Toss gently. Roast the strawberries for 20 minutes, drain the juice (saving it for later) and set aside to cool.
While the strawberries are roasting, make the dough:
In a large bowl, mix the flour with sugar, cinnamon, cardamom and salt. Make a well in the center and pour in the warm milk in which you have dissolved the yeast. Mix in some of the flour to make a sponge in the middle of the bowl. Slice the butter and put the slices around the sponge (the warmth of the sponge will soften the butter slightly and make it easier to incorporate). Cover the bowl with plastic and leave for about 20 minutes, until bubbles have formed. Then add eggs and sour cream, mix everything together and knead until the dough feels silky and smooth, adding a little more flour if the dough is very sticky. Cover the bowl and set aside to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour, though it will take longer in a cool environment.
Preheat oven to 190 degrees Celsius (375 Fahrenheit).
Melt the butter and use a little to butter a 25 cm (10-inch) pie plate or baking dish (you can also use a 9 x 13 inch rectangular dish). Mix the sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle 2 tbsp of the mix in the buttered pan.
Push the dough down gently. Roll into a 30 x 45 cm (12 x 18 inch) rectangle. Brush with the remaining butter, sprinkle with the rest of the sugar-cinnamon mix and distribute the roasted strawberries more or less evenly over the dough. Tightly roll up the rectangle lengthwise. Slice into 12 rounds (dental floss is an excellent tool for this!) and set them in the pie plate, cut side facing up. Let rise for another 30 minutes.
Bake the rolls in the center of the oven until well risen and browned, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, boil down the strawberry juice and make the glaze by mixing 2 tbsp thickened strawberry juice with 40 g (1/4 cup) confectioner’s sugar. Spoon the glaze over the rolls.