Saturday, May 26, 2012

Blueberry Buttermilk Cinnamon Rolls

I am evidently on a breakfast kick. I do that sometimes, get really into certain foods for a while. Like the spinach smoothies I've been making for weeks (promise, you can't taste the spinach!). One time I went on a ham sandwich bender. And lately I've had a MAJOR sweet tooth. Maj.

Breakfast is my favorite meal by far. Well, brunch really is because when you can get shrimp and grits and muffins in the same meal I'm there with bells on. I tend to gravitate towards sweets when I'm eating a big breakfast...with a side of bacon or sausage. See, that's another thing I love about breakfast. You can get all the important foods: pig, dessert, fruit (sometimes), butter, and bread. At any rate, cinnamon rolls rank right up there with my preferred breakfast foods. Right under French toast.

Fun fact: I don't really care for raw blueberries. Bake them and I'm SO in. Like when I had a choice of PopTart, it was blueberry all the way. With icing, duh. I'm not a savage. We've got tons of local blueberries in the stores now, so I've been dying to use them. I sincerely love how blueberries squish their juice when you bite into them after a nice sauna in the oven.

We're going to make a buttermilk yeast dough. You'll need: Vanilla extract, sugar, warm water, buttermilk, salt, an egg, yeast, flour, and butter.

Start by blooming the yeast in the warm water. I like to microwave the water for 15 seconds, let it sit for 10, then add the yeast. You'll know pretty quickly whether the yeast is going to activate. It'll start to foam and smell yeasty.

 While the yeast is doing it's thing, melt the butter and mix it with the sugar.

 Add in the buttermilk, egg, vanilla, and salt when the mixture has cooled a touch. Buttermilk tends to separate with heat and eggs will scramble, but as long as your butter isn't super hot you shouldn't run into trouble.

 Mix in a couple of cups of flour.

 It'll make a really sticky dough.

 Add the yeast mixture and stir it in. Now is a good time to switch to a wooden spoon if you're not already using one.

 Add the rest of the flour until you get a dough that doesn't stick to everything.

 Knead the dough 5-10 minutes on a floured surface.

Grease up the bowl you've been using and turn the dough ball around in the oil. Cover it with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let that sucker rise.

Assemble the filling ingredients. You need: fresh blueberries, sugar, butter, cinnamon, lemon zest, and brown sugar.

 Pro tip: To get the most out of a citrus zest like lemon, rub it in something coarse like sugar to release the essential oils. Clean fingers can be your best kitchen tools.

 Pour the sugar and lemon zest over the blueberries.

 I like to use my spatula to coat all the blueberries and mash a few of them in the process.

 When the dough has doubled in size you can punch it down and get it ready for rolling.

Roll the dough out to roughly 12x20 on a floured surface. You want to have the short side parallel to you this time. (I took this picture from the side, so the short side is parallel to where I actually work from.)

I very lightly browned my butter. It had just a hint of that beautiful nuttiness.

 Spread the butter and brown sugar over the dough.

 Sprinkle on the cinnamon and use your spatula to distribute it over the dough. Pour on the blueberries, baby.

Spread them evenly over the dough.

We're making big-ass cinnamon rolls here, so start rolling the short side farthest from you. Keep it as tight as possible.

Seal the edge of the dough and pinch the ends. Cut the roll into 8 pieces. I've found the easiest way is to cut it in half first, then cut each section in half until you have 8 rolls.

Arrange them in a greased dish with a couple of inches of space between each roll. They have to rise a second time, so they need room to grow! I used 2 pie plates, but a 9x13 pan will work as well. Cover them in plastic wrap and a kitchen towel to let them rise.

 Bake at 350º until the tops are golden brown.

 While the cinnamon rolls cool a bit you can make the glaze. All you need is buttermilk and powdered sugar.

 Whisk them together in a bowl until it's lump-free.

 Let's just take another look at warm, pretty blueberry cinnamon rolls.

 Pour the glaze over the still-warm cinnamon buns.

 I mean really cover them. When has extra glaze ever been a bad thing?

 I think these may have been the most tender breakfast rolls I've made to date. I'm crediting the buttermilk with this little lift.

You can eat these for dessert or for breakfast. Oh and it's a long weekend, which means you have plenty of time to make them! You could serve them with some macerated strawberries for a patriotic treat.

Blueberry Buttermilk Cinnamon Rolls (makes 8 large rolls)

1 (1/4 oz) package active dry yeast
1/2 c warm water, 110-º115º
1/3 c unsalted butter, melted
1/4 c granulated sugar
1/2 c buttermilk
1 egg
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 1/2 - 4 c all-purpose flour

1 pint fresh blueberries, rinsed and picked over
1/4 c granulated sugar
Zest from 1/2 lemon
1/2 c unsalted butter, lightly browned
1/4 c brown sugar
1 tbs cinnamon

2 c powdered sugar
1/4 c buttermilk

  • For dough: Dissolve the yeast in the warm water in a small dish. Let stand 5-10 minutes. In a large bowl, mix butter and sugar until thoroughly combined. Add buttermilk, egg, salt, and vanilla extract. Mix until combined. Stir in 2 cups of the flour. The dough will be quite sticky. Stir in the yeast mixture with a wooden spoon. Add the remaining flour by the 1/2 cup until a manageable dough forms. Lightly flour a work surface and knead your dough 5-10 minutes. Lightly grease the work bowl with vegetable oil (or other neutral oil) and return the dough to the bowl. Turn the dough to coat it and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm spot.
  • While the dough rises, combine the blueberries, granulated sugar, and lemon zest in a small bowl. Coat the blueberries thoroughly with the sugar and let stand until ready to use.
  • When dough has doubled in size, lightly flour a work surface. Roll the dough to a roughly 12x20 rectangle with the short sides parallel to you. Pour the melted butter over the dough. Sprinkle the brown sugar and cinnamon over the butter and spread within 1/2" of the edge with a spatula. Sprinkle the blueberry mixture over the dough and spread them out evenly. Starting with the side furthest from you, begin rolling the dough towards you. Try to keep it as tight as possible. Seal the edge and pinch the ends. Cut into 8 even portions. Grease a 9x13 dish or two 9-inch pie plates. Place the cinnamon rolls 2 inches apart in the dish(es). Cover with plastic wrap and a dish towel to let rise another 45 minutes to an hour.
  • Heat the oven to 350º. Bake the cinnamon rolls 25-27 minutes or until golden brown on top. Remove cinnamon rolls and let cool while you make the glaze.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar and buttermilk. Pour over the warm (but not hot) cinnamon rolls. Serve while warm. Cinnamon rolls are best the same day but may be wrapped and kept for up to 2 days.


  1. I made these last night and they were delicious! I followed the recipe and instructions exactly (which was very easy to do, the pictures are especially helpful) and if I made these again, I'd probably just tweak one or two things.

    The best thing about this recipe is the dough. I know there are lots of no-yeast recipes for cinnamon rolls out there, and they're an abomination as far as I'm concerned. Have some patience and let the dough rise, it's worth it! I followed the recipe to the letter and this dough rose beautifully. Also it was very easy to roll and handle. Don't be intimidated by this yeast dough!

    The rolls did come out of the oven a little dry. I only baked them 25 minutes but they were already browned on top. This is probably due to variation in oven temps (mine might have been a little hot) and pretty simple to adjust for next time.

    But the main thing I'd tweak is that the filling didn't seem gooey or cinnamon-y enough. Now, instead of blueberries I used pecans, so maybe the lack of moisture from fruit contributed to this problem. But next time I would probably double the entire filling recipe and possibly up the ratio of cinnamon.

    Again, that is an easy adjustment to make and more of an issue of preference than an actual problem with this recipe. It's a great recipe! Thanks so much for sharing it.

    1. Oh thank you, you're so sweet! I'm so glad you like the dough! I think it's one of the easiest I've worked with. I think you're probably right about the filling not being as gooey without the blueberries because I really cut back on the sugar so the flavor of the berries would come through. A little extra sugar (and butter if you're feeling frisky) and you'll have some serious cinnamon rolls!