Sticky Lemon Buns with Cream Cheese Glaze

Ever since the last time I made cinnamon buns, it set my mind spinning with all kinds of different filling possibilities – cheese, dried fruit, spices – lots of things.  But I got caught up in all this other life and never got around to experimenting.  It seems, however, that the lovely people at TheKitchn.com did.  I guess great minds think alike.

These are for the rainy spring morning what the cinnamon bun is for a snowy winter morning.  Warming, bright, gooey, and surprisingly light in the tummy.  It makes you totally forget about the drizzle outside and brightens your kitchen with thoughts of sunny summer days to come.

don't blame me

Sticky Lemon Rolls with Lemon Cream Cheese Glaze
Makes 12 large breakfast rolls

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
Method
In the bowl of a stand mixer sprinkle the yeast over the warmed milk and let it sit for a couple minutes. With the mixer paddle, stir in the softened butter, sugar, vanilla, and one cup of the flour. Stir in the salt, nutmeg, and lemon zest. Stir in the eggs and enough of the remaining flour to make a soft yet sticky dough.

Switch to the dough hook and knead for about 5 minutes, or until the dough is elastic and pliable.

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.

clear glass bowls might make for better photos and someone has a birthday coming up

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.)

sugary, lemony

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.

ready to roll

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.)

this is pre-second rise, if you can believe it. these puppies were HUGE

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.

for some reason "When the rolls are done" just doesn't seem to cover it

piping hot, gooey, and sweet as hell

I think the next time I make these (which will be the near future), I will swap the lemon juice in the filling for raspberry puree, and toss in a sprinkling of some chopped fresh mint.  It makes my mouth water just thinking about it.  If anyone does this before I get a chance to, please let me know how it comes out!

Granola

So I have a new kitchen obsession, and it’s granola.  I have never been able to find a granola in the store that I found was worth the money, not to mention the calories.  Oh yes, don’t be fooled.  That stuff in the fancy packaging has some serious sugar and packs a lot of calories into quite a small amount.

clumpy

Admittedly, this recipe is not as healthy as the last one I made.  But it is so much better.  I enjoyed the last one.  It was crunchy, nutty, not too sweet, and delicious by itself or with yogurt.  But this takes that and cranks the volume to 11.  Full disclosure, I had a really hard time sharing this with my neighbors.  I did, but it was an inner battle for me.  Also, while I was home I got a lot of compliments on the photography on here, but my neighbor Tim takes the photos you guys are oohing and aweing and drooling over.  His granola was much deserved.

Olive Oil Granola

Makes about 9 cups.

adapted from http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/15/dining/151arex.html

Ingredients

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

1 C roughly chopped pecans

1 C pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds)

½ C slivered almonds

3/4 C pure maple syrup

1/2 C extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1 tspish kosher salt

1/2 tspish ground cinnamon

1/2 tspish ground ginger

3/4 C chopped dried apricots

1 C dried cranberries

Method

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large bowl, combine oats, nuts, pepitas, maple syrup, olive oil, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and ginger. Spread mixture on a rimmed baking sheet in an even layer and bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.

2. Allow to cool a bit and then break up the clumps to whatever consistency you like, then toss in the apricots and cranberries.

Bacon Cups

I love being in Memphis for the holidays.  It’s not blistering cold, you don’t have to worry about snurricanes (usually), and it’s probably the only time where all my old friends are in town at the same time.

Over the years of playing catch-up during marathon drinking sessions, it has become a tradition of sorts to go to Monday Night Pint Night at the bar, then head to our friends Keith and Tessa’s house, where we usually get in the hot tub to further enhance the effects of alcohol and really ensure that everyone’s hangover will be ranked in the top 10 all time worst hangovers ever.

My brother and I have know this family since 7th grade, when they first moved to Memphis.  In high school, the brothers became very good friends, then the sisters toward the end of high school, now we consider them to be even closer than extended family.

Now of course we are very safe people and we sleep over at their house wherever there are extra pillows and blankets.  Their mother, a weaver of fine tapestries and all-around amazing woman, always makes this recipe.  It is the best thing ever to wake up after a long night of catching up to the smell and anticipation of bacon cups, no matter how bad your head hurts.  This is also the time when we get to catch up with their mom and behave like proper people, and it is something that I always treasure.  She is such a joy to talk with because of her continuously upbeat perspective and relentless joy for life.  Thanks Mrs. Weghorst for the amazing recipe and conversation.

Bacon Cups

Ingredients

5 slices of bacon, cooked and chopped

1 package of cream cheese, room temperature

2 tbsp. milk

2 eggs

½ c shredded cheese

1 can of biscuits

Application

  1. Preheat oven to 375F.  Spray 10 regular-size muffin cups with non-stick spray.
  2. Beat the cream cheese until smooth and gradually add milk and eggs, beating at low speed until well combined.  Stir in the shredded cheese.
  3. Separate the dough into ten biscuits, pressing one biscuit into each of the muffin cups, forming a slight rim.  Spoon egg and cheese mixture evenly into the cups.

    bottom layer of biscuit

  4. Top with bacon and bake 20-25 minutes, or until filling is set and edges are golden brown.

    just about ready to come out

  5. Enjoy!

    mmmm bacon cups

Mrs. Weghorst makes these in advance and then freezes them in a big container so they can be enjoyed whenever.  I like that idea, and plan on keeping this around my apartment as a quick tasty breakfast.  I made these the morning of Christmas Eve, so that when everyone woke up the next morning, all I would have to do is put them in the oven and that worked spectacularly.  They were a big hit, and I think these would be an excellent New Year’s Day meal as well.

Wyatt’s Granola

When I come home to Memphis I like to take advantage of my parents’ enormous kitchen (which is approximately the size of my entire apartment) and willingness to buy ingredients.

I originally intended to come home and bake up a storm – a buttery, flour-y, sugar-fueled storm.  Then I baked one batch of cupcakes (which is a whole ‘nother post) and became immensely frustrated when I realized how spoiled I have become from owning a stand mixer.  Hand mixers certainly serve a purpose in some applications, but not for cupcakes, frostings, or anything else that requires creaming tons of butter and sugar to light, fluffy cloud of happy.  So I’m opting for the easy way out – no special hardware required, and healthy upon request of a quite amazing young artist currently residing in the Chicago area, Wyatt Grant.  I suspect you will see him on the cover of Art News one day in the not too distant future.

My parent’s house is also pretty close to a pretty amazing ‘gourmet’ grocery store armed to the teeth with fancy pants food-stuffs.  I got most of the ingredients for this granola here, except for the Costco-sized bottle of honey and vegetable oil.  Generally I would say get whatever brand or quality level your budget allows, but for a recipe with so few ingredients, it really is more tasty when you have the good stuff.

the good stuff

Wyatt (Earp)’s Granola

Except for the stirring, this is a ridiculously easy recipe.  I suspect you could even forgo the 15 minute intervals and stirring while cooling if you prefer clumpy granola, which I do.  For anyone who prefers a lighter Christmas morning breakfast, this recipe is it!  Slightly sweet with a hint of cinnamon and a harmonious ratio of nuts to fruit, this granola is sure to be a crowd pleaser, or selfishly coveted over Greek style or plain yogurt.

Ingredients

4 c toasted whole grain cereal with raisins, dates, and almonds (such as Mueslix – I used some fancy pants organic brand from Fresh Market)

3 c old fashioned oats

1 c coarsely chopped walnuts

1 c sliced almonds

¾ c coarsely chopped hazelnuts

½ c honey

¼ c vegetable oil

1/3 c dried blueberries

1/3 c dried sweetened cranberries (Craisins, unless you’re shopping at Fresh Market)

1/3 c golden raisins

1 tsp ground cinnamon

¼ c turbinado (raw sugar)

Application

  1. Preheat oven to 275F.  Throw the cereal, oats, and nuts together and mix them up on a big sheet pan, preferably with sides.
  2. Put the honey and oil in a saucepan and bring it just to boiling; drizzle it over the soon-to-be delicious granola mixture and toss to coat as evenly as you can get it.  Stick this in the oven and bake until golden brown and dry, stirring about every 15 minutes.  It will be about an hour and a half, so there’s about 6 fifteen minute intervals.

    drizzled and ready for some oven lovin

  3. Remove from oven and scatter the dried fruit over the oats and sprinkle cinnamon and turbinado over the whole shebang.  If you think the sugar will be too sweet, feel free to omit it.  I sampled it pre-sugar and it wasn’t as sweet as I like, but I have a sweet tooth.

    dried things

    I could not believe how big the raisins were - that's my pinky. Seriously, get the good stuff for this recipe.

  4. Cool completely in pan, stirring occaisionally to prevent clumping…or, you know, not, fifteen minute intervals is kind of a lot.
  5. Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks, but I doubt it will last that long.

    coolin off

    The great this about any granola recipe is that if you don’t like one of the ingredients, you simply swap it our for another you do like.  I would like to try this with dried cherries, pecans, apricots…the possibilities are really pretty endless.

Enjoy!

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