Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Rooibos Vanilla Sweet Rolls

It's tea time!

Rooibos tea is very popular here in the Netherlands. I even heard once that tea in general was described as "angels peeing on your tongue." Ha ha. So, I decided to make a Rooibos tea sweet roll. I've tried several different Rooibos variations - one with vanilla, caramel and I also really like the mango peach variety. But for today's sweet roll I went with vanilla. Then while I was eating the finished roll together with a friend, she also mentioned the caramel variety and I said, don't finish your roll - wait a minute. I went to my refrigerator and pulled out a bottle of Dr Oeteker Caramel sauce and we drizzled the rolls with it. It was perfect. So - for the future... next Rooibos sweet rolls we make - are going to be the caramel variety.

My friend said the rolls were very vanilla - but that you could really taste this after taste of rooibos tea on your tongue - that tingly feeling you get from tea... so, maybe a bit less vanilla in the glaze would have been better as well.

The other thing about this particular roll is the dough recipe. I don't always use the same dough mix - I like to experiment and try different recipes. This particular recipe uses quite a lot of yeast and the dough rose a lot. I could have easily gotten 24 sweet rolls out of this recipe but I kept the rolls quite large - and that might have been a mistake because as the dough started to rise for the second time I thought that maybe the rolls wouldn't even fit on the baking sheet - so I baked maybe sooner than I should have - but I'm also a bit impatient and was eager to taste them, too.

The Dough:
2 envelopes active dry yeast (4 1/2 teaspoons)
1/2 cup sugar
1 3/4 cups luke warm rooibos tea (vanilla variety)
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup shortening, melted margarine or oil (plus extra to butter bowl)
5 cups flour (plus extra, if needed)

(1) Seep two tea bags of rooibos vanilla tea into 2 cups piping hot water. Allow to cool to luke warm temperature.
(2) In a large mixing bowl combine yeast and sugar. When tea is luke warm, pour 1 3/4 cups tea into the mix. Save the other 1/4 cup tea for the glaze. Then add salt, eggs and oil and mix. Add one cup of flour at a time and mix. It will be sticky. Add additional flour as needed and knead to make a elastic - not too sticky dough ball.  Add about 1 tablespoon more butter or oil to bowl. Turn dough to oil top and cover with plastic wrap (not warm wet towl... because this dough will rise - a lot). Put in warm place till doubled in size.

Vanilla Creme filling: (Adapted from Great American Favorite Brand Names Cook Book)
2 Tablespoons flour
1/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons margarine, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups powdered sugar

(3) In a small saucepan, blend flour and milk; cook over low heat, stirring constantly with wire whisk, until mixture thickens and just begins to boil. Remove from heat and refrigerate.
(4) In a mixing bowl, cream butter and margarine till smooth. Add in vanilla, salt and refrigerated flour/milk mix. Mix until smooth and then beat in the powdered sugar gradually until spreading consistency.

(5) After dough has risen, remove and punch down. On a lightly floured surface roll dough out into large rectangle about 1-2 centimeters thick. Spread with Vanilla Creme Filling. Roll into jelly roll and cut into 16-24 slices. Place on prepared baking sheets and allow to rise again in warm place. Meanwhile, prepare glaze.

Vanilla-Rooibos Glaze:
1/3 cup butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup rooibos tea

(6) In saucepan over low heat, melt butter. Blend in powdered sugar, vanilla extract and rooibos tea. Stir until smooth and creamy. Remove from heat.
(7) After rolls have risen second time, bake in oven at 175-C degrees for 20-22 minutes, or until tops golden brown. Remove from oven and pour Vanilla-Rooibos Glaze over top. Allow to cool a few minutes before enjoying.
(8) Optional: drizzle with Dr. Oeteker Caramel Sauce or similar product if desired.

Oven fresh with Vanilla- Rooibos Glaze poured over!

Rooibos Vanilla Sweet Rolls

Friday, 20 August 2010

Ideas and Inspiration

Where do I turn to for ideas and inspiration? Like every other foodie I read a lot of food blogs. I get ideas from cupcake bloggers and also smoothie/ice cream bloggers. Any combination they come up with - I think - I could do that, too.

I recently came across this site: kblog in which it lists a whole bunch of herb combos for juicing. And I think to myself - those are some interesting combinations... could possibly work for a sweet roll, too. 

Just check out this list of herb combos:
-basil and lime
-thyme and lemon
-grapefruit and tarragon
-fig and black pepper
-pear and mint
-cucumber and rosemary
-spinach and chive
-strawberry and chili pepper
-peach and cayenne

Okay, some of those don't really sound so good for sweet rolls - like cucumber and rosemary... i don't think so. But it is a very big trend right now to use unusual ingredients in baked goods and in cooking in general. We foodies want to experiment with everything new we come across. Many of us visit farmers' markets and other places to find that unique ingredient and then we want to try something fun with it.

I recently found a can of jackfruit at my local Xenos (I'm trying to think of what store to compare that to in the U.S. hmm... it's like similar to a Pier 1 or something) Anyways, I was thinking - I'll buy that and turn it into some kind of sweet roll. I haven't used it yet, but I've learned all about jackfruit - in my google searches - and I find that kind of thing interesting. Has anyone else cooked with jackfruit before? I've read that it tastes best fresh... we'll see how it is from a can... another day.

Of course, I don't just look to other bloggers for inspiration and ideas... I use my head, too. I just sit down with a paper and pen and write out all my ideas for anything that sounds yummy. Here is a few items from my list:

-salty sweet
-pina colada
-marshmallow fun
-pink passion (grapefruit, raspberries, passion fruit)
-watermelon, strawberries and vanilla
-creamy orange-creamsicle
-mango lassi
-hazelnut choco-cinnamon
-wheat free + coconut, white chocolate and mango (for a friend that loves this combo)
-with Lebanese twist: fig, rosewater, pistachio
-rooibos vanilla
-20 kruiden thee

and my list goes on... but that is just a sample of what I've thought of.

Also from the kblog - here is a list of trendy ingredients: Acai, Aloe, Apricots, Basil, Blackberries, Blood Oranges, Cacao Nibs, Cherimoya, Chia Seeds, Exotic salts: pink, grey, smoked; Goji berries, Hemp products, Jalapeno, Papaya, Wheatgrass, Yacon Powder, Yuzu... to name a few.

You know, I never even knew that salt could come in pink. Does it taste the same? Does anyone know?

And then with fall right around the corner, I'm craving all those wonderful fall things - cooler weather, red, orange and golden leaves, Halloween, Thanksgiving... pumpkins!!!  And even though I see before me a list of trendy ingredients... I lean toward pumpkins, cinnamon, nutmeg, butternut squash, apple cider, maple syrup and so forth.

Today I am 39 weeks and 5 days pregnant... and I'm really hoping that this little baby comes quickly... because I'm experiencing all those things that come with being almost full term, like muscle cramps and just an enormously huge belly that is hard to walk around with... and a huge desire to hold this little baby and kiss it a thousand times....

And I think that by October, I will be recovered and ready for baking sweet rolls... and I betcha that I will be leaning toward those wonderful autumn smells in my kitchen... I'm certainly looking forward to it!

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Peanut Butter & Smuckers Concord Grape Jelly... Rocks!

Using peanut butter and jelly in baked goods is not unheard of. This is the trend in cupcakes and other baked goods... so why not I try it out, too?

extreme close up - yummy

I love Smuckers Concord Grape Jelly. I loved it as a kid and I still love it now. The only difference being that it's very difficult to find in the Netherlands. Almost unheard of actually... unless you know someone that can shop at a Base Exchange (people in the military). Fortunately for me, I do!

I remember when I first moved here and that was one of the commodities that I looked for every where... but it was not to be found. Surprising to me, too - especially since Dutch folks seem to eat nothing but bread - it's a major staple to their diet. My husband grew up eating nothing but sandwiches everyday for years. To this day, he still takes 10-12 sandwiches to work everyday (I know that's a lot right?! - He's skinny and has to eat that much to survive his daily 35 minute bike ride commute... of course, he could probably get by on less if he ate cheese and meat on that bread... that's another story!)

So, after years of being here I had actually forgotten about Smuckers Grape Jelly and I have gotten quite use to my second favorite jam - raspberry!

Then, I met this military - Air Force family who offered to get me a treat now and again if I'd like - which made me request - Smuckers Grape Jelly - what a huge jar... and it's so cheap compared to raspberry preserves. Yummy yummy... now I can make these rolls :)

Also a side note... my in-laws - specifically my father-in-law is way traditional and does not vary from that much - well, he's tried the American grape jelly and he loves it. So... I think Smuckers should definitely consider foreign trade here in Europe... money to be made! If I had the means, actually, I'd open up a mini American market right here in Eindhoven... I know so many people that would love to buy and eat American junk food - like all those cereals... oh how I miss them... okay - this tangent is long enough....

Here are my Peanut Butter and Grape Jelly Sweet Rolls...

Using Basic Dough Mix, combine in a bowl 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast, 3/4 cup warm water - let sit to become foamy. Then add 1 egg, beaten and 1/4 cup melted margarine or vegetable oil. Mix in 3 cups BASIC ROLL MIX and extra flour if needed to make a soft, not too sticky elastic ball of dough. Put into a bowl buttered with oil and turn to coat. Place someplace warm for at least an hour to rise, covered with plastic wrap or a wet towel.  Spread dough out into rectangular form about 1 centimeter thick and cover one side with 2 tablespoons melted peanut butter. Cover the other side with about 1/4 cup Smuckers Concord Grape Jelly. Like this:

Fold in half. Then melt another 1-2 tablespoons peanut butter and spread again over dough. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons granulated sugar and about 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Like this:

Roll up the opposite direction and pinch seems to close. Like this:

Cut into 12-14 rolls about 3/4" to 1" thick. Put on prepared baking sheets and let rise again. Like this:

yummy that looks good... can't wait to eat them...

Now, you can do this a quick way by putting them in the oven at a low temperature - like say 50 degrees Celcius - this is if you are in a hurry to eat them. Then after 20 minutes or so, raise the temperature to 175 to 190 degrees Celcius (I have a hot air oven and 175 is sufficient for my needs). Then they are done baking in a little under 20 minutes - keep your eye on them because it really depends on the oven. While baking, prepare sweet glaze. Combine 1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar with 1-2 tablespoons grape juice and about 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract or an 8g package of vanilla sugar. Mix well. Drizzle over warm rolls and sprinkle with 1/8 cup chopped peanuts if desired. I liked the chopped peanuts - my 4 year old did not.

These tasted so yummy warm from the oven. Then I waited a while till Ella woke from her nap to give her one. I didn't rewarm it or anything - just ate it as is at room temperature and I liked it even better! This might be a problem for me because my hubby doesn't like peanut butter so I may have to eat these myself - which is not so good for my waistline...

And though I love Smuckers Concord Grape Jelly... I'm wondering about trying these with my favorite brand raspberry jam - from Hero and then drizzled with a sweet raspberry glaze - oh yummy... the variations to try just totally excite my taste buds!

Friday, 13 August 2010

Sugar High Fridays - Browned Butter, Saffron and Succade Sweet Rolls

THE NIGHT BEFORE I sit and contemplate how to make my sweet rolls. This is the night before: is sponsoring the monthly Sugar High Fridays for the month of August 2010 - this will be the first time I participate in this monthly Sugar High baking challenge. The challenge is to use browned butter in the recipe. I had many ideas for different types of browned butter sweet rolls but in the end I've decided on a combination of saffron and succade to pair with the browned butter.

I find this combination to be experimental on my part. I haven't cooked with browned butter much nor with saffron and succade. After a brief search online I have found that this combination will probably pair well together. I found on a saffron bread recipe - which I will adapt for my sweet rolls... and then from there I will use the succade in my filling and end with a more simple glaze.

Browned butter is nothing more than butter melted in the sauce pan until it turns light brown and gives off a nutty aroma. See Simply Recipe instructions here. There is butter all over a sweet roll recipe - in the dough, the filling and the glaze... so I'm going to use it in all three places. Cooking with saffron is also interesting. according to eHow - I need to cook with the threads and seep it in broth or water. I'm thinking I can just add it to the browned butter right away because that will be warm and the flavor from saffron absorbs when heated. See here. I hope this works. Now I hope I can get away with using as little saffron as possible because it is the worlds most expensive cooking herb that I know of... and they only really sell it in tiny small glass tubes. The recipe for saffron bread above asks for 2 teaspoons and I'm not sure how packed those teaspoons are. I shall see how little I can cook with and still get some flavor from it.

What is succade? I found it in the baking section at my local grocery store. In Dutch it is sukade - or cedar apple rind... after a brief search on wikipedia I have found that it belongs to the citrus family. In English it's called citron - not to be confused with the lemon. It is used in Dutch desserts such as oliebollen and cakes. So putting it in a sweet roll is right on track.

THE DAY OF BAKING, here is what I've done - it's always a day of learning - lots of learning...

Browned Butter and Saffron Dough:
(Adpated from English Saffron Bread by GODGIFU at
1/2 teaspoon (loosely packed) saffron threads*
1/4 cup hot water
1/2 cup butter, browned
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup white sugar (or raw sugar)
1 package active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon lemon zest
5-6 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon oil

*1/2 teaspoon saffron threads for me is .10 grams of saffron - it is sold in tiny hard plastic tubes at .05 grams each. I used two of these for the dough - and just a pinch more for the filling/glaze combination below.

Browned Butter and Succade Filling:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons browned butter with saffron**
100 grams succade

Browned Butter Glaze:
1/3 to 1/2 cup powdered sugar (or more if needed)
3 tablespoons browned butter with saffron**
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

In a small bowl, soak the saffron in the hot water, about 20 minutes, let cool until lukewarm, drain and reserve the liquid. Heat the milk in a small saucepan until it bubbles, then remove from heat; add browned butter, sugar and stir until melted. Let cool until lukewarm.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the milk mixture with the reserved saffron water and egg. Add the yeast and stir to dissolve. Add the salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, lemon zest, strained saffron threads and 3 cups of the flour; mix well. Add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.

Lightly oil a large mixing bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1-2 hours.

**Prepare browned butter with saffron for use in filling and glaze. To do this melt 1/3 cup (75 grams) butter in sauce pan until it reaches browned butter stage. Remove from heat and add pinch of saffron to liquid nutty butter. Leave for 20 minutes to allow saffron to absorb into warm butter. Then divide this mixture; half for use with filling and half for use with glaze.

Deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll out about 1-2 centimeters thick into a large rectangular shape and evenly drizzle 3 tablespoons browned butter with saffron** over. Spread all over with fingers to cover the rolled out dough. Sprinkle with granulated sugar and succade. Roll up jelly roll style and cut into 12-14 equal rolls about 1 inch thick. Place on prepared baking sheets and let rise a second time, about 40 minutes.

Preheat oven to 175 degrees C (350 degrees F). Bake at 175 degrees-C for 20 to 22 minutes or until golden brown. Meanwhile, prepare Browned Butter Glaze. Combine in small bowl, remaining browned butter with saffron** and powdered sugar. Stir until reaching glaze-like consistency. Add lemon zest. Remove baked rolls from oven and drizzle with Browned Butter Glaze.

Final Thoughts:
During this process - I noticed that I needed quite a bit more flour. That might be because I'm at sea level and it's a bit humid today. So I say use between 5 and 6 cups - which ever is right for you. The smell of the dough - lemon, nutmeg, cinnamon, and saffron - the smell it creates is very aromatic - very perfume like almost. It smells really good and really special. Add to it the browned butter and it is so yummy... and this is just the dough!

The finished product with the combination of browned butter and lemon zest in the glaze... promises to taste perfect... and it does! I love the color of the rolls - a bit darker than usual with the addition of the extra saffron threads, nutmeg and cinnamon. The dough in of itself is super yummy - then add to that the succade, extra sugar and browned butter - while it baked - the butter melted onto the pan like caramel - so the bottom sides of the sweet rolls are super sticky and quite yummy to the taste.

The most important thing I learned today... continue to explore new ingredients. It's creative and inspiring. It's delicious and probably creates new brain cells in my head when I try new things... I read about that somewhere. Browned butter: I will definitely continue to cook with it... I've already seen a nice recipe to use  with it next time... Gnocchi with Zucchini Ribbons and Browned Butter Parsley - that's on my menu for Sunday night :)

Now, I just need to visit my number one fan/reader - you know who you are - and bring her some rolls to proof!

Friday, 6 August 2010

Banana-Date-Mango Sweet Rolls - Trial 1

I've had this combination in mind for several weeks. I have thought about it a lot. How to make them - where to use the mango, banana and dates and how to bring it all together. Thinking a lot about something really helps - I was able to write down the recipe before I even started the project and then as I started baking today I only had to make adjustments as I went. One ingredient I used to bring it together was lemon. I put lemon peel in the dough and used honey with a lemon flavoring. There is also a bit of lemon in the icing. It's not overpowering but it blends all the ingredients together.

The thing I like about sweet rolls is the waiting. It takes a few hours but when you finally sink your teeth into that sweet roll - warm and fresh from the oven - it's just an awesome experience especially when you go "Ahhhh" these rolls have turned out the best so far. Seriously, these are my most favorite rolls so far. I loved them. I ate two and really had to stop myself from going further because I'm attending a church picnic tomorrow and I want to take something with me. Also, it's best for my waistline not to consume so much. Kailea was lucky enough to be with me when it was taste time. She likes them, too. She's kind of a picky eater - but she always likes my sweet rolls... she's got a sweet tooth just like Mommy :)


Makes about 12-14 rolls

Banana Dough:
1- ½ teaspoons Active dry Yeast
3/4 cup Luke warm water
1- 2 (about 150ml) Small ripe banana(s), pureed
3 tablespoons Oil or melted margarine, divided
2 heaping tablespoons Lemon zest
4 to 4 ½ cups BASIC ROLL MIX
2-3 tablespoons flour if needed


Date Filling:
3 tablespoons Honey (Lemon variety)
½ teaspoon Ground cardamom
15 Dates, pitted and finely chopped*

Mango-Butter Icing:
1/3 cup Pureed mango
1/2 teaspoon Lemon juice
1/3 cup Butter or Margarine, melted
2 cups (260g) Powdered sugar
1- 4 teaspoons Mango nectar or lemon juice to thin, if desired

In a mixing bowl, combine yeast, warm water and banana puree. Let sit a few minutes for yeast to bubble. Then blend in 2 tablespoons oil or margarine and lemon zest. Add in BASIC ROLL MIX ½ cup at a time until dough ball reaches elastic and smooth stage. Knead 5 to 10 minutes adding additional flour if necessary. Oil another bowl with remaining 1 tablespoon oil and put the dough into that bowl, turn to oil top and cover with plastic wrap or hot damp towel and let rise in warm place for 1 – 2 hours.

Meanwhile, prepare Date Filling:
*Tip: After pitting dates, finely chop dates in food processor fitted with metal blade. This makes it much easier because dates are sticky and hard to work with otherwise.

In a small bowl, combine honey, cardamom and finely chopped dates. Set aside.

Date Filling
When dough is ready, punch down and roll out into large rectangle – (approximately 1-2 centimeters thick). Spread Date Filling evenly over dough. Do this with your fingers – it's a sticky mess but well worth it. Roll up dough – jelly roll style and cut into about 12 - 14 equal slices. Place sweet rolls right-side up on prepared baking pans and let rise about 30-40 minutes in warm place. Bake in pre-heated oven, 190-C degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.
Roll out dough
Spread with Date Filling
Roll up - jelly roll style
Cut into 12-14 slices - about 1 inch thick

While rolls bake, cream together mango, lemon and butter, then slowly beat in powdered sugar. Taste and adjust texture or flavor according to desire. Use a bit of mango nectar or lemon juice to thin it if you like. May also add a few drops of lemon or banana extract if desired.

Do not let rolls cool before frosting, take out of oven and quickly spread generous amount of thick Mango-Butter Icing over top of each roll. We want the mango flavor to melt into the sweet roll and flavors to blend accordingly. Let cool before eating... about 5-10 minutes is sufficient – if you still want to enjoy it warm and fresh from the oven :) yum yum.