This spring you guys. This spring is weird. But then again, I’m pretty sure I say that every year. I just want winter to quickly and efficiently turn a corner into green grass and sunshine and mild perfect, Birkenstock-wearing weather. And it never does. It’s Wisconsin. It warms and then it cools and then it’s beautiful and then it’s snowing and it’s enough to make a girl go totally crazy.
So, on a weekend where you have no idea if you should be expecting sunshine or gray skies, wind or snow, flowers or rain clouds, a long, leisurely recipe that yields delicate warm sweet rolls with bright flavors of spring is just exactly what we all could use.
I’m really not sure if there’s anything I love more than waking up slowly on cool weekend mornings before the farm has taken over our lives, warming up the house by baking sweet things in the kitchen while my Carrot heads off to the greenhouse to water our happily growing vegetable seedlings. He returns home to smells of simmered strawberries and rising yeast dough. We sip on coffee. We check in about how things look and what we need to prioritize for the week. We talk while the rolls finish baking and then we dive into sweet strawberry goodness slathered in cream cheese frosting.
It’s springtime on the farm and if our life sounds idyllic, it’s because spring life on the farm really is near perfect. The work is manageable. Tools are well-organized. Our ambitions are sky high and everything seems possible. We have time for each other and even a little time for ourselves. It’s the calm before the storm and it is certainly the calmest spring calm we’ve ever experienced. (Hopefully this isn’t some sort of twisted symbolism indicating an extra stormy season ahead).
Despite the calm and baking that encapsulates our weekends lately, things are really moving and shaking. Our CSA only has five spots remaining. We have three worker shares committed to helping us in the fields this season for free produce. We have interviews scheduled for our first ever part-time employee! We are meeting with new potential restaurant clients, working to continue steadily growing our business. Over in the greenhouse things are growing like crazy. The greenhouse is over half full of beautiful, happy, healthy, glorious plants (some of which will make the journey outside next week!). The peppers we’ve lost are nothing more than a distant memory while the reseeded plants are quickly and steadily germinating away. The future looks bright, green and glorious!
Happy greenhouse season to you all! Happy spring! Happy balsamic strawberries & cream sweet rolls!
All my love,
P.S. We just put in our first offer on a house EVER. Wish us luck! Give us all the good vibes!
BALSAMIC STRAWBERRIES & CREAM SWEET ROLLS
This yeast dough recipe comes from Pioneer Woman. It is fantastic and involves only one large pot and no kneading! I love, love, love it! However, it can be messy to work with if you don’t chill the dough after letting it rise. I like to make this dough the day before, let it rise, add the extra flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, and then put it in the fridge overnight for early morning sweet rolls without all the early morning work!
Takes 2 hours, 30 minutes (plus additional time for chilling dough, if desired)
Makes 18-20 rolls
1 pint strawberries, leaves removed and quartered
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup sugar
1 packet (or 2-1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast
4-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1/2 teaspoon baking powder, heaping
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea slat, heaping
1/2 teaspoon baking soda, scant (less than level)
4 tablespoons butter, melted, divided
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
In a medium saucepan, combine strawberries, sugar and balsamic vinegar. Stir to combine and warm over medium heat. As soon as they begin to simmer, reduce to lowest heat. Cook gently for 25 minutes. Mash with a potato masher or fork until strawberries are broken down. Remove to a bowl and chill in the fridge until ready to use. (The sooner you can get these done, the better! They will firm up as they cool which will make spreading all the easier. For test batches number 2 & 3, I made them the day before and chilled overnight. Worked like a charm!)
In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, combine milk, vegetable oil and sugar. Heat over medium heat until lukewarm. Turn off burner and remove from heat. You want the mixture to be warm to the touch but not hot. 110 degrees is ideal, but I don’t have a thermometer so I go by feel. If its too hot for your finger, it’s way too hot for yeast. Once lukewarm, add yeast and stir to combine. Let sit for 2 minutes. Return Dutch oven to burner and add 4 cups flour. Stir until combined, scraping down the sides a couple times if necessary. Cover with a clean towel and let rise for 1 hour.
After an hour add the remaining half cup flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir until smooth. Use immediately or chill. (I always chill overnight for the best results and workability!).
When ready to assemble your rolls, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Remove the dough from the fridge and cut the dough in half. Roll out on a well-floured surface into a loose rectangle about 16 inches in length by 10 inches high. Pour half of the melted butter over the dough and rub into the dough with your hands until it coats the whole surface.
Combine softened cream cheese with strawberry sauce in a small bowl. The mixture will not be smooth. There will be lumps of cream cheese. Don’t worry! Spread mixture over the upper half of the rolled out dough. (The strawberry mixture will slide down the dough as you roll it, so it’s not essential to put strawberries all the way to the bottom.)
Now, beginning at the end farthest from you, roll the rectangle tightly towards you. Use both hands and work slowly, being careful to keep the roll tight. Don’t worry if the filling oozes as you work. When you reach the end, pinch the seam together and flip the roll so that the seam is face down. Cut the roll into 8-10 pieces and place rolls in a 10-inch round or 9×13-inch baking pan. Repeat with other half of dough, butter and strawberry mixture. Place rolls into a second pan.
Set rolls on top of oven and cover with a clean towel or plastic wrap. Allow to rise for 20 minutes. Once risen, bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown on top. Spread whipped cream cheese frosting (recipe below) over both pans while warm and enjoy!
WHIPPED CREAM CHEESE FROSTING:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Combine butter and cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat together until creamy and well-combined, at least three minutes. Add powdered sugar, salt and vanilla extract. Start the machine slowly so the powdered sugar doesn’t go everywhere. Once combined, turn to medium speed and beat for 3-5 minutes until light and fluffy.