Lemon Almond Sweet Rolls

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Yesterday, I was trying to get a couple stray granules of rice out of a pie crust that I had just finished blind baking.  I tipped the pie dish a little too far over the sink in my effort to shake them out and the whole buttery crust slipped out into a soft heap in the wet sink.   

Sometimes things don't go how you plan.  But, using a good recipe and quality ingredients can give you a solid start and potential for a great final product.  Not making bad decisions about how to get rice granules out of your pie crust helps, too.  

In the past few weeks, I have given a few tutorials for making homemade bread (activating yeast and start to finish with a loaf of bread, complete with a kneading video), and over the next few weeks, I am going to provide a few of the best bread recipes I have ever made.  Each has become a favorite and has been made and eaten often, with great success each time.  

This first one I am sharing here is a recipe that I developed, and I am extremely proud of it.  For someone who just dropped an entire pie crust in the sink today, I can't say I have a great amount of cooking prowess, but I thought these turned out remarkably well.  The first time I made them, Adam took one bite and asked me when I was going to open a bakery.  Best compliment ever.  

But really, they are the loveliest rolls!  The dough consists primarily of Bob's Red Mill Organic Unbleached All-Purpose flour, which produces a fabulously soft and light dough and a gorgeously-textured final product (it is also organic, which is a big, fat plus in my book).  The butter and sugar doesn't hurt the softness and flavor and the bite of lemon zest and crunchy almonds will keep you coming back from more.  And I have.  Again and again. 

These are a perfect companion to your Easter dinner this weekend, or a side to a regular dinner if you can't wait that long.  And you should probably have one later for dessert, and maybe  another one for breakfast the next morning.  Don't worry, I won't judge. 

1.  Assemble your ingredients.

2.  Pour hot water into a large bowl.

3.  Pour yeast into warm water.

4.  Stir together the mixture.  I would also sprinkle a tiny bit of sugar into the mix. Let is sit for 10 minutes or so until the yeast gets all puffy.

5.  Add the salt and sugar.  

6.  Stir.

7.  Add eggs, vanilla, and butter, then stir.
8.  Add 3 cups of the flour.

9.  Stir.

10.  Add the rest of the flour.  When it gets too thick to stir, use your hands to knead until the dough is soft, elastic, and no longer sticky (if you need a refresher on kneading, check out this video).  Once your dough reaches this point, cover with a wet towel or greased plastic wrap and let it sit in a warmish place for an hour or until the dough has doubled in size.  

11.  While the dough is rising, zest the lemon and add it to the sugar for the filling.  With your hands, rub the lemon zest into the sugar to disperse the lemony deliciousness. 

12.  Finely chop the almonds.  

13.  Toast the almonds under the broiler set to low for for 4 or 5 minutes until they are fragrant and beginning to brown.  Watch them closely!

14.  Once your dough has risen, flour a surface and get your rolling pin, melted butter, toasted almonds, and lemon sugar ready.  

15.  Divide the dough into 8 or 16 sections (8 will make very large rolls, 16 will make medium-sized rolls).  On the floured surface, roll out one section of the divided dough into an oval/rectangle shape. 

16. Spread a generous layer of melted butter over it.

17.  Sprinkle liberally with lemon sugar.

18.  Now add a layer of toasted almonds.

19.  Starting with one of the long sides, roll it up. 

20.  With a VERY sharp knife, cut a slit lengthwise down the roll. 

21.  Now a second slit (you want to expose the filling).  

22.  See?  Like this :) 

23.  Carefully pick up the whole roll. 

24.  Begin twisting it.

25.  Carefully begin to knot it.  

26.  Once you have finished tying the knot, place it on a silicone mat.  Repeat with the remaining dough. You will have to cook them in batches, but I have had good success, despite the rise time difference.  

27.  Enjoy!  Trust me, you will!  You will also want to open a bakery after you make these :)

Lemon Almond Sweet Rolls:
makes 8 large rolls or 16 medium rolls 

Yeast Starter:
1 1/2 Tbs Yeast
2 cups warm water
sprinkle of sugar

1 1/2 tsp sea salt
1/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 Tbs vanilla
1/4 cup butter, melted
6-8 cups Bob's Red Mill Organic All-Purpose Unbleached White Flour

1/2 cup almonds, chopped, then toasted
Zest from 2 lemons (approximately 2 Tbs)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
4 Tbs butter, melted

Pour yeast, water, and sugar into a large bowl.  Let it sit for 10 minutes, until the yeast is puffy.
Once the yeast is puffy, add salt, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and butter; then stir.  Add the flour, 2 cups first, then more as the mixture begins to form a dough.  Once it gets too thick to stir with a spoon or spatula, begin kneading with your hands for 10 minutes, until the dough is elastic and smooth, and no longer sticky.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let it sit for 1 hour.

While the dough is rising, get the filling ready by chopping, then toasting the almonds in your oven using the broil setting on low for 3-5 minutes.  Next zest your lemons, and add the zest to the sugar and rub it between your fingers until the sugar and zest are combined and fragrant.  Melt your butter and set it aside.

Once your dough has risen, flour a smooth surface and ease the dough out of the bowl onto the floured surface.  Cut the dough into 8 or 16 pieces.  Roll one piece out (put the remaining pieces back in the bowl and cover with a wet towel) into an oval/rectangle and spread some of the melted butter over it (I like using a pastry brush for this).  Sprinkle with lemon sugar and toasted almonds.

Starting on a long edge, roll up the dough; then with a sharp knife, cut longways down the roll, cutting the first layer open, exposing the filling.  Carefully cut a second opening down the dough, next to the first one.  Now carefully pick up the roll and begin to twist it.  After a few gentle twists, tie it in a knot.

Set it on a silicone mat.  Repeat the process with 3 more and cook in a oven preheated to 350°F for 35-40 minutes, until the tops are a medium brown and the middle looks baked all the way through.  Remove from the oven and let cool.  Repeat with the dough until you have all 8 or 16 rolls!  Enjoy!

*this post is sponsored by Bob's Red Mill, but the opinions and recipe are my own!  Thank you SO much for supporting the brands that keep this blog running! 


  1. These rolls look amazing! You are totally the bread whisperer.

  2. I'm agreeing with the Bread Whisperer title! These are spectacular.

  3. I just made these! They taste great, not too sweet, and the look amazing!! Your instructions were very clear and they were surprisingly easy to twist. I found the sugar that ended up on the bottom burnt a little, but otherwise they're perfect. I made a dozen, but next time I think I'll split it into sixteen. Thanks for the recipe!


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