I saw a lovely lady riding her bike through New Orleans today. The sunlight was low and behind both of us in that comforting way that says the day is almost closed and we’re all headed home to take off our bras and make butter pasta. She was riding her bike wearing a dress and I had split second of jealousy thinking, gosh, I don’t do that nearly enough. I’ve forgotten that as one of life’s very simple graces. Her dress was an in-between-season floral, a saucy but modest length, and tucked under herself juuust so to ensure a safe but carefree ride.
How would you explain to someone how to ride a bike in a dress? Long but not too long. Step up, scoop just so, gently sit, ready your mind and your core, slow and steady to start, then just go for it… let it flow.
There’s beauty to the small details and certainly an unspoken grace to us ladies (like how I lumped the rest of us in there?). In addition, there is jam in these yeasty rolls and really, if you consider the bikes and dresses and setting sun and everything else – we are blessed indeed.
If this image doesn’t convince you, I honestly don’t know what would.
This recipe is from Julia Turhsen’s Small Victories cookbook which, if you don’t already have it in your collection, is a really reliable source for recipe classics + kitchen creativity.
We’ve made plenty of dough around here. This dough is softened and sturdied by whole milk, eggs, and butter… making it the best / my very favorite kind of dough.
If you’d like more of a step-by-step, there are these Cream Cheese Cinnamon Rolls that will take you down the road. You might also stay for the filling. Who could blame you?
Once the dough has puffed and doubled, it is lightly kneaded on a floured counter…
… and rolled to an oval-ish rectangle that measures about 18 x 12 – inches. A kitchen ruler comes in handy.
A kitchen ruler is not a special ruler, rather… it’s just a ruler that you keep in the silverware drawer.
Our filling is as simple as asking yourself what your favorite jam is. Use that!
It would be extra lovely if you had a homemade jam. Homemade strawberry jam would be my absolute dream. In the absence of that, I used a good cherry jam and jazzed it up with a hit of lemon zest.
Jam spread. Leaving about 1/2- inch border along all sides.
Roll, with courage and conviction. Roll as tight as you can without fighting the dough. Don’t pause or hesitate, just get in there.
Because the dough is soft and the jam is soft, this rope of dough will feel floppy. There’s no time to lose here.
I used a bench knife, though you could use a large non-serrated knife, to slice the rope in half… then each half in half until you have about 12 pieces. Less than 12 is also fine.
Arrange up, seams facing in on a parchment lined rimmed baking sheet.
I love the free form.
Brush lightly with beaten egg + a splash of water.
We can wipe the counter later. It’s ok.
Let the rolls rest and puff together just slightly while the oven preheats. Daydream.
If you’re worried about all of the jam baking out of the rolls onto the sheet pan, please know that I had that fear too. If you used a good quality jam, this shouldn’t prove an issue.
Baked to golden and sizzling. They’ll smell even better than they look.
Drizzled generously with a loose sour cream glaze.
Serve warm. Almost too warm. They’re doughy sweet, literally irresistible, and worthy of a cup of coffee and a pat on the back.
This dough recipe is reliable and satisfying. Consider making traditional cinnamon rolls or unfilled dinner rolls. It’s a great base!
Photos with the incomparable: Jon Melendez
- 3/4 cup whole milk
- 2 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 2 large eggs, divided
- 3 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 2/3 cup your favorite good jam
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- splash of pure vanilla extract
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, warm the milk until it is body temperature. Transfer to warm milk to a large bowl and stir in the yeast. Let the mixture sit until the yeast is dissolved and looks cloudy, about 5 minutes. A few bubbles on the surface is also a good sign that the yeast is ready.
- Crack one of the eggs in a small bowl and beat with a fork. Add the beaten egg to the milky-yeast mixture along with the flour, sugar, salt, and butter.
- Use a wooden spoon to mix everything together until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl. If after a minute or two of mixing it doesn't pull away from the bowl, add a little more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it does. If the dough seems too dry and impossible to mix, add a little more milk, 1 tablespoon at a time until it becomes a little more forgiving.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and shape the dough into a large ball. Knead it by pressing it with the heel of your hand and pushing it away from you, then immediately pulling it back toward you, folding the dough on top of itself. Turn the dough clockwise a little bit each time you push and pull so that it gets evenly worked and knead until the surface is completely smooth and the whole thing feels both solid and soft at the same time. It may take a solid 5 minutes of kneading.
- Put the dough back in the large bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough sit in the warmest spot in the kitchen until is soft, puffy, and doubled in volume - about 1 hour.
- Return the dough to the lightly floured work surface and use a floured rolling pin to roll it into a large ovalish rectangle measuring roughly 18 x 12 inches. If the dough resists while you are rolling it, simply let it rest until it yields to the rolling pin; dough responds well to to patience. Spread the surface of the dough evenly with raspberry jam, leaving 1/2-inch border.
- Starting from the long side, roll the dough up tightly so you end up with a 18-inch rope. Cut the rope into 12 even slices. I like to cut it in half, cut each half in half, and so on and so forth until you have 12 slices. The ends might not have much jam but you can still add them to the bunch.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange the buns, cut side up on the prepared baking sheet in relatively even rows. The buns should be lightly touching each other and the seams face inward towards each other.
- Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until they've risen a bit and puffed, 30 to 45 minutes.
- You can also prepare these rolls the night before, refrigerate covered and then bring to room temperature for 1 hour before baking.
- Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.
- Crack the remaining egg into a small bowl and whisk it with 1 tablespoon water. Before baking, uncover the buns and brush them lightly with the beaten egg. Bake until the buns are browned and bubbling, 25 to 30 minutes.
- While the buns are in the oven, in a small bowl whisk together powdered sugar, sour cream, and vanilla.
- Drizzle the warm buns with the sour cream glaze. It'll be messy. Enjoy it. Serve warm to hot as these buns are best served almost straight out of the oven.