Recipe: huckleberry lemon sweet rolls
Does everyone love their birth month or did I just luck out with September? While the flats remain relatively warm by my standards, the overnight temperatures dipped below freezing over the weekend here in the mountains. Morning walks with Neva have been pleasantly chilly for the past few days and the gold aspens light up like torches in the autumn sun. Jeremy noted that fall is our shortest season. I reminded him that technically all of the seasons are about the same length, but I knew what he meant. Winter is the longest season for us – basically from October to May – as long as there is snow. Summer is the next longest from June or July to September (when there isn’t much snow). Spring in the mountains is just plain weird because it’s all melty and muddy, usually from May to June or June to July. It’s the season of trashing your gear. True fall is cooler weather, golden aspen, and clear ground. As soon as there is enough snow to ski, it’s “winter”. Sometimes fall is as short as 3 weeks if summer and winter get a little greedy on each end. But I love it, because it’s so perfect for high country hikes, long trail runs, and mountain bike rides without the crowds. I think of autumn as that sweet spot.
Neva is getting spayed this week, just before she turns 6 months old. I was told to restrict her activities, as in – very short walks – for the two weeks after the surgery. I’m just a little nervous because after Kaweah was spayed, the Cornell Veterinary Hospital instructed us not to let her jump and of course, the first thing she did when we picked her up was to try jumping into the car. She cried, then tried to jump into the car again. Mainly, I don’t want Neva to be scared or to hate Doc Newton after the procedure is done. In anticipation of her upcoming convalescence period, we decided to take her up our favorite local trail in the Indian Peaks this weekend – to Pawnee Pass. We both had headaches thanks to lack of sleep and chilly gusts of wind slapping us around. Summer makes you soft because winds like that are considered “breezy” around these parts in winter. But Neva was happy and so we forged ahead. The winds were particularly nasty and cold at the pass (this happened a year ago on our backpack, too), so we took a quick snap for posterity and booked it on outta there.
on the way up
at the pass with our little hiker pup
almost to the trailhead it was warm enough for a swim
The good news is that Neva has taken two 30-minute car rides on windy roads with dramamine and hasn’t puked! She wasn’t happy about the rides, but we suspect once she’s had enough car rides without puking, she’ll start to associate the car with happier times. Also, she was VERY good on the hike wearing her chest harness despite wanting to chase after ALL of the marmots and pikas above treeline (60% of the hike is above treeline). Neva is still very much a puppy, but I think she just might become a good dog some day.
colorful sunset over our local mountains
mammata lit just before sunrise
This seasonal cool down means I’m able to turn the oven on to bake, roast, and feel normal again. Of course, all I could think about for the past several weeks were ways to use huckleberries and many of those recipes involved baking. While there are a handful of huckleberry recipes out there on the interwebs, you’ll find a hundred blueberry recipes for every huckleberry recipe. Something that had been on my radar for a while was blueberry lemon sweet rolls, but then I thought – HUCKLEBERRY lemon sweet rolls is where it’s at. First, start by making the dough.
for the dough: milk, water, egg, salt, sugar, vanilla extract, flour, butter, more butter, yeast
warm the milk and water to 115°f (close enough)
sprinkle the yeast and a teaspoon of sugar over the liquid
mix the sugar, salt, and flour
mix the egg, vanilla extract, and melted butter into the liquid
combine the liquid ingredients with the dry ingredients
knead until smooth
cover in an oiled bowl and let rise
The filling is pretty straightforward: huckleberries, lemon sugar, and butter. You could add cinnamon and other spices as you desire, but I didn’t want to make huckleberry cinnamon rolls. Sometimes it’s better to just keep the flavors simple and let the huckleberries shine.
sugar, butter, huckleberries, lemon zest
mix the lemon zest into the sugar
When the dough has doubled, roll it out on a lightly floured work surface into a 9×16 inch rectangle. [Am I the only one who finds it difficult to roll dough out into a rectangular shape? It appears to be more of a roundtangle.] Spread the butter over the dough. This is easiest if your butter is really soft. Be sure to leave a 1/2 inch clean margin along one of the long sides for pinching the roll closed. Next sprinkle the lemon sugar and the huckleberries over the dough, then roll it up from the long end opposite the long end with the clean margin.
the dough has doubled in size
roll it out
spread butter over the dough
sprinkle the lemon sugar and huckleberries
roll it up tight
Pinch the end of the roll back onto itself to help seal it. Then turn the roll over so the seal is on the bottom and slice the roll into 16 equal pieces (more or less). There will be berry escapees, but it’s easy enough to just tuck them back in after the slices have been set in their baking pan(s). Let the rolls rise and then brush them with butter before they go into the oven.
pinch the roll closed
arrange in a buttered baking dish and let rise
brush with melted butter
You can make the frosting while the rolls are baking. Well, I made a frosting. If you prefer more of a glaze, then add the milk into the frosting to thin it out. I decided I liked the thicker consistency without the milk. As long as the cream cheese and butter are soft, it’s easy enough to mix by hand, but a stand mixer or any mixer will make quick work of it.
lemon juice, milk (optional), cream cheese, butter, vanilla extract, powdered sugar
cream the butter and cream cheese together
beat in the powdered sugar
add lemon juice and vanilla
beat until creamy and smooth
When the rolls are golden brown, take them out of the oven and let them cool for a few minutes. I personally prefer to spread the frosting when the rolls are still warm so that the frosting gets a little oozy, and I’m a firm believer in warm pastries. If you are baking the rolls ahead of time, I suggest postponing frosting until you reheat the rolls.
time for a taste test
I was worried these would wind up being bland cinnamonless cinnamon rolls, but no – these are heavenly sweet rolls. I’ll take one of these over any cinnamon roll any day. Lemon and huckleberry are a natural partnership and it’s really all the flavor you need in this pastry. The dough is a soft and fluffy accompaniment to the fruity filling and creamy, tangy frosting. Jeremy rated this at the top of his sweet rolls list. I think frozen berries could also work as long as they don’t give off too much liquid during the final rise. And of course, you can always substitute blueberries for the huckleberries. Yay baking season!
oh how i love the huckleberries
gorgeous fruity inside
Huckleberry Lemon Sweet Rolls
from this recipe
3/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup water
2 1/4 tsps active dry yeast
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
extra butter for the pans
2 tbsps butter, melted (to brush on before baking)
1/2 cup sugar
zest of 2 large lemons
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups (about 11 oz.) fresh huckleberries (or blueberries)
1/4 cup cream cheese, room temperature
1 tbsp butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp lemon juice
Make the dough: Warm the milk and water to 115°F. Sprinkle the yeast and 1 teaspoon of the sugar over the warm liquid and let sit for a few minutes. Add the melted butter, vanilla extract, and egg to the liquid. Combine the remaining sugar with the flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Pour the liquid into the dry mixture and mix on medium speed for 5-7 minutes until the dough is smooth. Lightly grease a large bowl with an unflavored vegetable oil. Form the dough into a ball and place it in the bowl. Flip the dough over to oil the entire ball. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 90 minutes until it has doubled in size. Butter a 9×13 inch baking pan or two 9-inch round pans.
Make the rolls: Mix the lemon zest and 1/2 cup of sugar together. Punch the dough down and roll it out on a lightly floured surface into a 16×9 inch rectangle. Spread the 1/4 cup of softened butter over the dough leaving a 1/2-inch margin at one of the long edges. Sprinkle the lemon sugar over the butter. Then sprinkle the huckleberries evenly over the the sugar. From the long edge with no margin, tightly roll the dough like a carpet. Pinch the edge to the roll to seal it. Cut the roll into 16 equal slices, placing each slice, cut-side down into the prepared baking pan(s). Cover the pan(s) with plastic and let rise in a warm place for 45 minutes until doubled in size. Preheat oven to 350°F. Brush the tops of the rolls with melted butter and bake for 30 minutes or until golden. Let cool.
Make the frosting: While the rolls bake, cream the cream cheese and butter together in a mixer or by hand. Mix in the powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and lemon juice until uniform. Frost the rolls while warm. Makes 16 rolls.
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