Light and fluffy yeast rolls stuffed with a swirl of homemade strawberry filling. Served with a side of fresh basil cream, these sweet rolls are perfect for a summer brunch or picnic.
I’m currently writing this looking outside at a gloomy, grey day and wondering if summer will ever arrive.
I suppose I can’t complain, though. Victoria has had some pretty gorgeous days over the last month or so while the rest of Canada (the east coast, specifically) has suffered freak snowstorms. So really, I should just shut up and be happy with my warm overcast west coast weather. At least I’m not donning mittens and a snowsuit, right?
But I can’t. While I’m not a huge fan of summer as a season, I do miss the constant sunshine, cruising the island with the windows down and music blaring, and, of course, summer picnics. All the delicious, bite-sized food! Despite not doing them very often, picnic lunches are one of favourite summer activities. I enjoy spending time on a laid-back Saturday afternoon in the park or at the beach with my friends and family, and I really dig the picnic nibbles.
Dips and spreads ladled over hearty crackers; summer berries and stone fruit plucked straight from the bowl or dipped in fresh whipped cream; soft sandwiches bursting with savoury meat and veggies; a smorgasbord of crunchy salads; canisters of tangy lemonade of the kid and adult variety; and enough little sweets to keep you going well past twilight.
If I were to bring the sweets to our next picnic, these strawberry rolls would be the first thing I make. They scream summer time to me. Fresh strawberries are simmered with some natural cane sugar to make a super sweet filling, and then rolled up inside a soft and fluffy yeast dough and baked until golden brown. Topped with a little basil-infused whipped cream, these rolls are strawberry shortcake’s long lost, adventurous cousin. They’re simply divine!
Don’t fear baking with yeast. I assure you that nothing could be easier. These strawberry rolls are a good starting point for yeast baking because they only require a single rise. I don’t agree with sweet rolls needing more than one rise; it’s unnecessary and tests too much of my patience. This recipe proves that you can get super light rolls without spending hours proofing your dough. Single-rise strawberry rolls FTW!
The only thing you really need to watch when baking with yeast is that the liquid you activate the yeast in isn’t too hot. If the liquid is too hot, you’ll kill your yeast. Keep it around 115 F and you and your rolls will be golden.
Make these strawberry rolls for your next brunch, summer picnic, or simply to bring a little sunshine back into your morning. I promise you’ll love them!
I would like to shamelessly plug that this recipe is part of a #CDNFoodCreatives collaboration. This month, I opened up the group to all of the Food Bloggers of Canada members and got an amazing response. We went from a small group of about one dozen to seventy members in a matter of two short weeks! I’m so excited to collaborate with these wonderful and talented ladies and gents and to share their recipes with you. To kick things off, I decided to host this month and gave them the theme of fresh strawberries. You can find all of their delectable treats below the recipe.
- 1½ cups chopped strawberries, heaped
- ¼ cup raw cane sugar
- ½ tbsp arrowroot powder
- 1 tbsp water
- 2½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- ¾ tsp salt
- 40g unsalted butter, melted
- 2 tbsp raw or unpasteurized honey
- ½ cup water
- ¼ cup milk (I used 1%)
- 2¼ tsp active dry yeast
- 1 egg, room temperature
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 55g cream cheese, softened
- 2 tbsp agave nectar (or unpasteurized honey)
- ¼ tsp pure vanilla extract
- ½ cup basil, finely chopped*
- Add the strawberries to a small sauce pot over medium heat. Let the strawberries begin to break down until they're glossy and slightly mushy, about 2 minutes.
- Turn the heat to low and stir in the sugar. Allow the sugar to melt and simmer with the strawberries for 5-8 minutes, or until the strawberries are very soft and can easily be squished with a fork.
- Dissolve the arrowroot powder in the water and add the slurry to the strawberry mixture. Stir and allow to simmer for 1 minute until thickened.
- Remove the filling from the stove and scrape into a heatproof bowl. Allow to cool completely before using.
- Sift together the salt and 2 cups of the flour and set aside.
- Add the melted butter, honey, water, and milk to a large measuring cup and microwave in 20 second increments until the mixture reaches 115 F (46 C). Do not exceed this temperature or you will kill the yeast.
- Pour the butter mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment and sprinkle the yeast on top. Lightly stir the yeast into the liquid and allow it to sit and activate for 10 minutes. The yeast should be foam up when it is done. If the yeast has not foamed, your yeast is probably too old - repeat the previous steps with new yeast.
- Add the reserved dry ingredients to the bowl and mix them into the wet ingredients until a loose ball forms. Crack in the egg and stir it into the dough until combined.
- Add the remaining flour, ¼ cup at a time, until the dough comes back together into a ball. You may only need a portion of the flour. You don't want the dough to be too dry; it should be slightly sticky when touched.
- Turn the dough ball out onto a lightly floured surface and knead the dough for 4 minutes. Lightly coat the mixing bowl with cooking spray and place the ball of dough back into the bowl. Allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes.
- Lightly coat a 9 x 13 baking tray with non-stick spray and set aside.
- Once the dough has rested, place it on a lightly floured surface and roll it out into an 12 x 14 rectangle.
- Spread the strawberry filling all over the centre of dough rectangle, making sure to leave at least ½-inch border bare.
- Carefully roll your dough up, keeping it as tight as possible. Using a sharp knife, cut the rolled up dough into 10 equal pieces and place each piece in the prepared baking tray.
- Loosely cover the rolls with tinfoil and set aside in a warm, dry place to rise for 60-90 minutes.*
- Once the rolls have risen and expanded to twice their size, preheat the oven to 375 F (160 C) and bake them for 25-28 minutes, covering them with tinfoil at the 15 minute mark to avoid over browning.
- Remove the rolls from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.
- While the rolls are baking, make the basil cream. In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the cream until stiff peaks are just about to form. Remove the cream to a clean bowl and set aside. Wipe out the stand mixer bowl.
- Affix the paddle attachment to the stand mixer and add the softened cream cheese to the bowl. Beat the cream cheese until fluffy. Add the agave and vanilla and beat until smooth and all the cream cheese lumps are gone. Mix in the chopped basil.
- Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and fold in the reserved whipped cream. Serve the cream alongside the warm strawberry rolls.
A good environment for your rolls to rise in is your oven. Preheat the oven to 200 F (95 C) while you are making the dough, and then turn it off. Place your covered rolls in the warm oven to rise.
These rolls are best served the day they are made, but they will keep covered at room temperature for up to 3 days.
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