Saturday, June 28, 2014

Almond Sweet Rolls (with a surprising ingredient)

Sometimes I have crazy ideas. And sometimes they even work. When I make sweet rolls, sometimes I add graham cracker crumbs to add body to the filling without adding a ton of sugar. This works particularly well for cinnamon rolls.

It also helps to keep the filling from oozing out of the bottom of the rolls and making a sticky mess on the bottom.

This time, I decided to try wheat germ instead of the graham crackers. Wheat germ isn't the fibery part of the wheat, it's actually the part of the wheat that sprouts and becomes the new wheat plant. To me, it has a slightly nutty flavor, which I thought would work really well with the almonds I put into these sweet rolls - they were sweet enough, slightly nutty, and with plenty of cinnamon.

Almond Sweet Rolls

For the bread dough:
1 cup water
1/4 cup honey
2 1/4 teaspoons Red Star Platinum yeast
3 cups (13 1/2 ounces) bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup buttermilk powder
1/4 cup almond meal
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons unsalted butter

For the filling:
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup almond  meal
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Combine all of the ingredients in the bowl of your stand mixer and knead until the dough is elastic. Cover the bowl and set aside until the dough has doubled in size, about an hour.

Meanwhile, combine the filling ingredients in a small bowl and set aside until needed.

When the dough has risen, flour your work surface and spray a 9x13 baking pan with baking spray.

Turn out the dough and form it into a rough square.

Use a rolling pin to roll the dough to a 16-inch square. It doesn't need to be exact - you can eyeball it.

Spread the filling onto the dough leaving about an inch uncovered on the far end. Use the rolling pin to press the filling into the dough a bit. You don't need to be aggressive about it - just press lightly.

Starting with the edge closest to you, roll the dough, jellyroll style, towards the far end. Don't roll too tightly. When you get to the far end, pinch to seal the seam.

Cut the dough roll into 12 equal slices and arrange the slices, with a cut side up, into the pan. If any of the filling has fallen out of the rolls, you can gather it up and sprinkle it on top of the rolls.

Cover the pan - my favorite 9x13 pan has its own snap-on plastic lid, but plastic wrap will do just fine.

Refrigerate the buns overnight or up to 24 hours (you can also let the dough rise until it has doubled - about 30 minutes or so, but the overnight rest is recommended - and it makes it easier to have fresh sweet rolls in the morning.)

When you're ready to bake, remove the sweet rolls from the refrigerator and heat the oven to 325 degrees. I like to give the oven 30 minutes to come to temperature.

Remove the cover from the pan and bake at 325 degrees until the buns are nicely browned, about 25 minutes.

Remove the buns from the pan and let them cool slightly on a rack.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

If you like, you can drizzle these with a powdered sugar icing, or just sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Disclaimer: The nice folks at Kretchmer's Wheat Germ sent me a jar of wheat germ, but I already had some in the pantry. It's a useful addition to baked goods, so I generally have some on hand.