Make-Ahead Alaska Blueberry, Lemon, and Thyme Cinnamon Rolls

By • May 22, 2014 • 23 Comments

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Author Notes: The dough in this recipe is straight from a 1943 copy of 'America's Cookbook,' which belonged to my grandmother. The filling is straight from the wild blueberry patches of Alaska, but any berry will work well here. Note: wild berries tend to be a little smaller and a little juicier than those you'd buy at the market, so if you're using fresh store bought berries, you might want to add up to half a cup to one whole cup more.Mary Tee Malmberg

Food52 Review: If there’s such a thing as a summer cinnamon roll, this is it. A time-honored recipe with a citrus/blueberry/thyme twist makes this taste both fresh and familiar. The fact that you can make them the night before is a bonus and the rising technique of placing the cold buns in the oven with a pan of boiling water worked well. I used fresh blueberries and they stayed plump and juicy. I might add lemon zest to the glaze next time for more punch. Delicious. crunchygooey

Serves 9

For the dough:

  • 1 cup milk, scalded
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/8 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 packet yeast
  • 3 cups flour, sifted
  • Zest of 1 lemon

For the filling and glaze:

  • 5 tablespoons butter, 1 Tbsp set aside for greasing pan
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen (see headnote)
  1. For the dough: combine the scalded milk, sugar, salt, and half of the melted butter in a large mixing bowl; let cool a bit. Once the mixture is lukewarm, add the yeast. Let the yeast sit in mixture until it is active and frothy, about ten minutes.
  2. Add two cups of flour to the mixture and beat thoroughly. Gradually stir in the remaining flour, adding just enough to form a light dough (a little softer than bread dough).
  3. Turn the dough out on a floured surface and knead until smooth, adding more flour as necessary, 1 tablespoon at a time. Using the remaining butter, grease the bottom of a large bowl and place the dough in it; brush the top of the dough with melted butter. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 2 hours.
  4. Once risen, knead the lemon zest into dough. Roll the dough out into a 14" by 9" rectangle about 1/4 inch thick.
  5. For the filling: mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon, thyme, zest, and salt in a bowl. Brush the dough with 4 tablespoons melted butter, then sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar-aromatics mixture all over. Sprinkle fresh or frozen blueberries evenly over the surface of the dough.
  6. Beginning with the long side of the rectangle dough, roll the dough into a log and pinch the edges to seal. Cut the dough into 1 1/2-inch slices.
  7. Coat the bottom of a square or round pan with remaining melted butter. Place the cinnamon rolls in a 9x9 square pan or 10 inch round pan or skillet and let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes or so. Cover and refrigerate. These can be made up to 12 hours in advance.
  8. When you're ready to bake the following morning, start with a cold oven and put the rolls on the middle rack. Take a shallow dish and fill it with boiling water. Place the dish on a rack directly under the rolls and close the oven. Forget about the rolls for 30 to 45 minutes.
  9. Take the rolls out of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Once the oven is heated, bake the cinnamon rolls for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown.
  10. To glaze: mix together an additional 4 tablespoons butter at room temperature, 3/4 cup powdered sugar, 1 tsp. lemon zest, and 1 teaspoon lemon juice. Add hot water one tablespoon at a time until the glaze is the consistency you like. Spread the glaze on the cinnamon rolls once they have cooled slightly.
Jump to Comments (23)

Comments (23) Questions (0)

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3 months ago Erin Alderfer

So the 4T in step 10 is a new 4T, not remaining?

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3 months ago Mary Tee Malmberg

Yes, an additional 4T.

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4 months ago George

The butter quantity for the filling/glaze does not seem correct - step 5 uses 4 T and step 10 uses 4 T vs 4 1/2 T in ingredient list

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4 months ago Mary Tee Malmberg

Just revised. Butter in recipe is for the the filling and greasing the pan. Originally, the icing was optional, so step 10 is an addendum of sorts. I hope the revisions help!

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4 months ago RSVPPDQ36

Do you take the pan of water out of the oven before baking? I made a thick blueberry jam and added fresh blueberries to it for the spread.

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4 months ago Mary Tee Malmberg

I keep the pan of water in the oven to generate a little moisture throughout the baking process, but I also live in a very dry climate. They would bake just fine without the water, I'm sure.

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4 months ago Nico Ducharme

how much powdered sugar?

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4 months ago Mary Tee Malmberg

About 3/4 cup

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4 months ago Fork Vs Spoon - Mallory

These sound so delightful! Thyme and lemon take these over the top :)

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4 months ago purduetina

I rolled the dough out into an approx. 14" long x 9" wide rectangle (9 rolls x 1.5" per roll=13.5" on the long side). The dough was about 1/4"-1/2" thick at this point (my usual cinnamon bun dough thickness).

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4 months ago Kaia Joye Moyer

How thick and how large of a rectangle should the dough be rolled out to?

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4 months ago Anne

What size pan do you use?

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4 months ago Mary Tee Malmberg

I've used a 9x9 square pan and an 10 inch cast iron skillet for a single batch.

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4 months ago Anne

What size pan do we use?

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4 months ago Mary Tee Malmberg

For the greasing of the bowl and brushing of the dough in Step 3. I'll be sure to make that more clear.

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4 months ago Halifax foodie

What do you do with other 1/2 of the melted butter for the dough?

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4 months ago Mary Tee Malmberg

For the greasing of the bowl and brushing of the dough in Step 3. I'll be sure to make that more clear.

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4 months ago Mary Tee Malmberg

@kansashostage, there's only one 2 hour rising period. I just edited the recipe. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

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4 months ago kansashostage

Are there two 2-hour rising periods or just one (steps 3 & 4)?

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4 months ago Mary Tee Malmberg

There's only one 2 hour rising period. I just edited the recipe. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

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4 months ago Eat This My Friend | Jade O'Donahoo

Wow - this looks sublime!
Definitely trying. X

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5 months ago Mary Tee Malmberg

Oops!! That would be 1 Tbsp. of fresh, chopped thyme. Thanks for letting me know! I'll be sure to revise that as soon as I can edit.

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5 months ago purduetina

psst! how much thyme is in this recipe? thyme is mentioned in the text/instructions section but not in the measurements section. (i don't see it listed in the ingredients/measurements section). thank you!