Blueberry Sweet Rolls

Today marks the end of so called “dead week” here at school. On Monday we start the treacherous journey through finals week to get to WINTER BREAAAAAAK!

I have multiple explanations as to why this week was called dead week. They are as follows. Ahem.

  1. Class basically consists of review and squished-in exams and essays, thus all excitement about going to class is “dead.”
  2. It’s the week before finals, so everyone is super stressed out and feels like he or she is going to, well, kick the bucket. Or kick someone else’s bucket.
  3. We’ve all been turned into zombies. Just for this week.
  4. The letter ‘r’ was accidentally left out of the word dread.

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My personal view is that all of the sleep deprivation has finally caught up with us, so yeah, we basically are zombies. Except your brains are safe from me. I want to eat warm, gooey, melt-in-your-mouth, blueberry sweet rolls. That only have to rise once. Ohhhh, yeah.

Don’t look too closely at the swirls or you’ll be hypnotized. Really, though.

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These rolls are comfort foods TO THE MAX, my friends. You take one bite of these babies and all stress and thoughts about zombies just fade away.

One thing stood in the way of me making sweet rolls, just as five finals stand between me and winter break. And that would be a slight fear of using yeast.

“WHY do they have to be so picky about EVERYTHING?” I thought to myself. “If things aren’t perfect they just die on the spot. So dramatic.”

However, the more I researched using yeast, and the more I thought about the first bite of fluffy roll surrounding juicy blueberries and dripping with vanilla glaze, I realized I was going to learn to use yeast.

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The first step in successfully using yeast is to be confident. Yeast can sense fear, and it will just die because that’s what it does. I’m totally kidding. Well, about the sensing fear part.

It’s important to note that there are two types of yeast you can buy. One is active dry yeast, and the other is instant yeast. They are NOT directly interchangeable. This recipe uses active dry yeast.

Active dry yeast must be proofed, or activated, before being used in a recipe. This means pouring the yeast into lukewarm liquid and letting it sit for about 10 minutes. At that point in time, the liquid should look
bubbly on top; this is how you know the yeast is alive. In this recipe, our liquid is a mixture of almond milk, water, and melted margarine.

Instant yeast requires no proofing and can be tossed right in with the flour. It is harder to find and more expensive, so I stick it out with the active dry yeast.

Yeast is finicky about the temperature of the water it is proofed in. If the water is too hot, guess what it does? Yeah, just dies. (Maybe that’s why this week is called dead week…)

The temperature should be between 104 and 110 degrees F, a general guide is to aim for the temperature of bath water. If you like really hot baths, this tip is not for you. Think of the temperature water you would use for a baby’s bath and do that. You want to be able to keep your finger comfortably in the water.

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Another thing that usually frightens people about yeast recipes is kneading. Kneading develops the gluten in dough, which gives it that nice, chewy, texture. It’s very important, and not as hard as you think!

You want the dough to be a little sticky when you start, so don’t add too much flour or the rolls will be tough. Flour a surface and place the ball of dough down, flipping it so the outside is coated in flour. Hold the bottom edge of the dough in place with your left hand. Grab the front of the dough in your right hand and use the heal of your right hand to gently stretch the dough away from you, then fold it back on top of itself. Turn the whole dough ball a quarter to the right. Repeat this process for 5-6 minutes, and THAT’S IT! Pull, fold, turn. It’s actually pretty relaxing.

Keep the surface coated in flour, adding more as needed. When the dough is smooth and not sticky, you’re DONE! YAY!

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Next comes the rising. Yeast needs a suitably warm environment in order to rise (but are we surprised?). Our house is cold, so what we do is preheat the oven to 200 degrees and then TURN IT OFF when the rolls are ready to start rising. Cover the rolls loosely in aluminum foil and allow to rise in the oven for 1 hour. Works like a charm!

Finally, remember that using yeast comes with a learning curve. When I made this recipe the first time, I didn’t know how to knead, and the pan I used wasn’t big enough, yadda yadda. This is what happened.

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Not pretty, but they tasted fine!

So don’t be hard on yourself! You’ll master the yeast with time, I promise.

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Blueberry Sweet Rolls
(Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction)

Ingredients:

Rolls

  • 2 and 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 package active dry yeast (1 packet = 2 and 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup almond milk (cow’s milk is fine)
  • 2 and 1/2 Tablespoons unsalted margarine (unsalted butter is fine)
  • 1 large egg 

Filling

  • 1 and 1/3 cup frozen blueberries, not thawed
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch

Vanilla Glaze  

  • 1 cup powdered sugar (or more)
  • 1-2 Tablespoons almond milk
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract

Instructions:

  1. Make the filling first: Combine the frozen blueberries, sugar, and cornstarch in a bowl. Gently toss around and let sit while you prepare the dough.
  2. Make the dough: Heat the water, almond milk, and margarine together in the microwave until the margarine is melted. When mixture is bathwater temperature, sprinkle yeast on top and let proof for 10 minutes.
  3.  Set aside 1/2 cup of flour. In a large bowl, toss the remaining flour, sugar, and salt together until evenly dispersed. Stir the margarine mixture into the flour mixture. Add the egg and only enough of the reserved flour to make a soft dough. Dough will be ready when it gently pulls away from the side of the bowl and has an elastic consistency.
  4. On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough for about 5-6 minutes. Place in a lightly greased bowl (I used vegetable oil) and let rest for about 10 minutes.
  5. Fill the rolls: After 10 minutes, roll the dough out in a 14×8 inch rectangle. Pour the sugared blueberries on top and gently spread them to cover the dough surface. Roll up the dough tightly. Cut into 11 even pieces and place in a lightly greased 9-inch round pan or square pan.  Loosely cover the rolls with aluminum foil and allow to rise in a warm, draft-free place for 1 hour. Here is what I do: heat the oven to 200F degrees. Turn oven off. Place rolls inside oven and allow to rise. Do not refrigerate the rolls at any point during or after rising.
  6. After the rolls have doubled in size, preheat the oven to 375F. Bake for 25-30 minutes until lightly browned. I covered the rolls with aluminum foil after 15 minutes      to avoid heavy browning.
  7. Make the glaze: Right before serving, top your blueberry rolls with glaze. Mix all of the glaze ingredients together. If you prefer a thicker glaze, add more      powdered sugar. If you’d like it thinner, add more milk. Pour over sweet rolls.

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