I’ve been on a real lemon/citrus-y kick lately, loving everything from lemon pound cake to lemonade. It’s just so springy and fun. We love love cinnamon rolls, so when I came across a recipe that used lemon instead of cinnamon, you bet I was all over it. Adam loves to help with them, I set him at the dining table and he helps me roll them up. I’ve made these rolls twice now, once for DH’s birthday and again today for our brunch play date. They are the perfect amount of sweet and tart and the cream cheese lemon glaze is totally delish. These would be perfect for Sunday brunch and will definitely get everyone gathered around the kitchen table set. Now the question is, is it breakfast or dessert?! I’ll let you decide
First step is to gather your ingredients (there’s a bunch!) then prepare your dough. You will need: fast acting yeast, milk, softened butter, sugar, vanilla, salt, nutmeg, lemon zest, eggs and flour to make the dough. After everything is well mixed, knead the dough either by hand or with your dough hook. While the dough is rising, prepare the filling by mixing sugar, the zest of 2 lemons, softened butter, nutmeg, and ginger. Carefully add the juice of the 2 zested lemons to the sugary mixture. Be careful not to add too much or the filling will be too runny and ooze everywhere. The mixture should resemble wet sand.
Roll the dough into a large rectangle and spread the filing on top.
Starting at one long end, roll the dough up tightly pinching the ends off. If a little filling oozes out, that’s ok! With a pastry cutter (or knife!) cut the dough evenly. I got 12 rolls.
Place the rolls into a greased baking dish. At this point, you can choose the place them in the fridge (make sure they are covered tightly) or you can leave them on the counter, cover them with a towel and let them rise for one hour. During this time, start on the cream cheese glaze. Mix softened cream cheese, lemon zest, lemon juice, and powder sugar in a food processor.
Bake the rolls at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes. While they are still warm, spread the cream cheese glaze on top.
These were a HUGE hit with my family. Next time, I think I’ll try them with orange! If you like lemon, you’ll love these rolls. You can adjust how lemony they are by using less or more lemon juice/zest.
- Lemon Roll Dough: 1 envelope (2½ teaspoons) yeast
- ¾ cup warm milk
- ½ cup butter, very soft
- ¼ cup white sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 4½ cups flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- 2 lemons, zested
- 2 eggs
- Sticky Lemon Filling: 1 cup sugar
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon powdered ginger
- 2 lemons, zested and juiced
- 3 tablespoons butter, very soft
- Lemon Cream Cheese Glaze: 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1½ cup powdered sugar
- 1 lemon, zested
- In the bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warmed milk and let it sit for a couple minutes. 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.
- Using a dough hook, knead the dough for about 5 minutes. Spray the dough with vegetable oil and cover and let the dough rise until doubled (approx 1 hour)
- In a bowl, mix softened butter, sugar, nutmeg and ginger, then work in the lemon zest until the sugar resembles wet, soft sand. Stir in the juice of 1 lemon. (Reserve the juice of the second lemon for the glaze.)
- Preheat oven to 350*
- On a floured surface, roll out the dough into a rectangle. Spread the sugary mixture over top of it. Roll the dough tightly then cut it into 12 even rolls. Place the rolls into a greased baking dish.
- Cover the rolls and let them rise for 1 hour. You can refrigerate them at this point for up to 24 hours. When you are ready to bake the rolls, remove them from the fridge and let them rise for 1 hour.
- Bake the rolls at 350* for 30-35 minutes.
- In a food processor, 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.
- Serve while warm.
recipe adapted from The Kitchn