Sweet rolls are like bread bliss. I don’t care whether they’re laden with cinnamon sugar, mixed with sweet potato, or riddled with juicy cranberries and dark chocolate - give me any sort of soft, pillowy sweet roll and I’ll be content. So really, these cherry sweet rolls just had to happen. Shame on me if I have 10 pounds of cherries at my disposal and don’t turn them into sweet rolls.
These may not looklike your typical sweet roll, but trust me, they’re that and more. You still get the buttery, tender dough baked to soft perfection, but you also get to turn a Sunday morning breakfast treat into an any-time grab-and-go snack. Yup, that’s right, portable cinnamon sugar sweet rolls, no fork required. Why can’t all the tastiest foods be like that??
The best part, of course, is that inside each one of these scrumptious rolls is not only a good dousing of cinnamon sugar, but also a sweet, dark cherry compote. The cinnamon sugar and the cherry compote were practically made for each other; each bite of super-soft bread with sweet and fruity flavors is incredible. You know how sometimes, you hit on something really good? This is one of those times. When even your pickiest taste-tester says, “This is actually REALLY good,” you know you have something special on your hands – err – in your stomach. ;)
In case you’re just tuning in, I’m taking part in a 10 Pound Cherry Challenge hosted by OXO and the Northwest Cherry Growers. This week will feature back-to-back cherry recipes on the blog, which will be entered into a contest along with the contributions from other participating bloggers. Be sure to follow along for more cherry goodness!
Update: The 10 Pound Cherry Challenge Contest is open for voting! I would love it if you’d vote for me by “liking” the photo for this recipe (and my other cherry recipes!) on OXO’s Facebook Page. Here’s the link for this recipe’s photo. Voting is open until Friday, August 16th at 4PM EST.
Combine cherries, sugar, and juice in a small saucepan and stir together until evenly combined. Set over medium heat and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally; the liquids should simmer and the cherries should get soft. With heat on, gently mash cherries to break into smaller bits and release more juices, making sure no cherries are left whole. Once done, remove from heat.
Sift cornstarch into a small bowl. Add cold water and whisk until totally smooth, making sure no undissolved bits of cornstarch are left on the bottom of the bowl. Slowly add cornstarch mixture to cherry mixture while stirring.
Place cherry mixture back on stove with the heat just over medium. Cook, stirring gently, until the mixture comes to a low boil. Continue to stir and boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in almond extract.
Cool compote in saucepan for 10-15 minutes, and then transfer to a jar or other covered container to cool completely in refrigerator.
Place milk in a large, microwave-safe bowl and heat in microwave until an instant-read thermometer registers 180ºF, about 1 min. 30 sec. - 2 min. Stir in 1 tablespoon granulated sugar and allow to cool to 110º-115ºF (you can put it in the fridge/freezer to speed up the cooling). Sprinkle yeast over cooled milk and stir in with a wooden spoon. Let sit for 5-10 minutes, until foamy.
While yeast is proofing, melt 3 ounces (6 tablespoons) butter in the microwave. Make sure the mixture reads 110º-115ºF or slightly cooler before adding to proofed yeast.
Add the butter and eggs to the proofed yeast and stir in, breaking up the eggs in the process. Sprinkle 14 7/8 ounces (3 1/2 cups) bread flour over the liquids. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons sugar and the salt on top. Stir in until combined into a wet dough.
Gradually add just enough of the remaining 4 3/4 ounces (1 1/8 cups) bread flour to the dough, stirring in a bit at a time, until the dough is no longer too sticky to be worked by hand. Turn out onto counter and knead for about 10 minutes, adding more of the remaining flour as needed, until the dough is very soft and elastic. Add only enough flour to prevent the dough from getting stuck to the counter or your hands; you don't necessarily need to add it all.
Grease a bowl about twice the volume of the dough with cooking spray. Shape dough into a ball with a smooth top and place in bowl, turning once to coat top with spray. Cover with greased plastic wrap and leave to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk together cinnamon and sugar in a bowl for filling.
Punch down fully risen dough and roll out to a 16" x 18" rectangle - do your best to roll the dough evenly and make the dimensions accurate. You will be cutting the dough into 4" x 6" portions - cutting every 4" on the shorter side and every 6" on the longer side. Use a bench scraper (or knife) to slice off the first portion of dough and cover the rest with plastic wrap. Spread 1 tablespoon cherry compote over the piece of dough, leaving a clear margin of about 3/4" around all sides. Liberally sprinkle cinnamon sugar over cherry compote. Starting on one of the longer sides, tightly roll up dough, forming a seam once you reach the opposite end. Place on one of the prepared baking sheets, seam-side down, and cover with plastic wrap.** Repeat with remaining dough to make 12 rolls. You should have extra cinnamon-sugar left over to use for sprinkling on rolls before baking.
Let the rolls rise until very puffy, about 40 minutes. Towards the end of this time, preheat oven to 350ºF with oven racks in the middle and bottom-third positions. Whisk together melted butter and milk for glaze.
Just before baking, brush all exposed areas of rolls with glaze, sprinkle liberally with remaining cinnamon-sugar mixture, and add sparkling sugar to the tops.
Bake rolls in preheated oven for 20 minutes, switching and rotating baking sheets halfway through. Enjoy warm. Keep any leftovers in an airtight ziploc or container. These are best fresh, but will keep for a few days at room temperature. Reheat in microwave for about 25 seconds before serving.
*To quickly bring eggs to room temperature, place in a small bowl filled with warm (not hot!) water. If you do this at the beginning of the dough-making process, the eggs should be warm enough by the time you're ready to add them.
**A bit of the compote juices might leak from the rolls during the second rise, but don't worry; they'll still be filled with lots of the good stuff!