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

May 22, 2014
4 Ratings
Photo by Mark Weinberg
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 Catherine Tee

Test Kitchen Notes

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. —Laurie

  • 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)
In This Recipe
  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.

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I’m an old soul. My favorite Saturday morning activity is watching birds on the feeder while drinking strong, black coffee out of my favorite hand-thrown mug. My favorite place to kill time is in antique stores. The less organized the better. I like full-bodied red wines and bitter IPAs. I live for feeling the warmth of sunshine and hearing the stillness of freshly fallen snow. I can thank my stint in Alaska for that. I have salt water in my veins, having grown up in Eastern NC, and (shhh…don’t tell any of my Mainer friends this about me) I prefer blue crab over lobster.