After tucking into these, there will forever be a debate as to ‘lemon or cinnamon’ – seriously! Freaking amazing! Borrowed from the Kitchn, you’re going to wonder where these rolls have been all your life – enjoy!
1/2 c. butter AND 1 c. whole milk – these will be melted/warmed together
3 eggs AND 1 t. sugar AND 1 package (8 g) active dry yeast
1/3 c. sugar AND 4 c. flour AND 3 T. poppy seeds AND 1 t. kosher salt
zest from 2 medium lemons AND 1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. butter, softened for spreading
1/2 c. butter AND 4 oz./125 g cream cheese, both softened
2 medium lemons
1 c. icing sugar AND 1/4 t. salt AND 1 T. poppy seeds
Get started on the dough for the rolls by buttering a 9 x 13 casserole. Melt the butter gently with the whole milk in a large glass measuring cup (carefully) in the microwave. The butter needs to be completely melted but you want the mix just nicely warm. Add this to the bowl of your electric mixer (if the bowl is cool, warm it up using hot tap water), then whisk in the 3 eggs, the one teaspoon of sugar and the packet of yeast. Leave this all to sit for several minutes until bubbles start to form.
Add the remaining 1/3 cup of sugar, flour, poppy seeds and salt and mix on low speed using the dough hook for a couple of minutes until combined. You may need to stop the mixer and scrape down the sides to help it along.
Turn the mixer to medium speed and continue to mix until the dough comes together in a smooth ball – this could take as long as 10 minutes. When it’s ready, place the dough ball in a lightly oiled bowl, cover it and leave it to rise in a warm place for about an hour and a half until it’s doubled in size. Prep the filling while you wait.
For the filling, grate the zest from both lemons into a medium bowl, add the sugar and use the back of a spoon or your fingers to work the zest into the sugar until it’s well combined. Roll out the dough (I cover my counter with plastic wrap) on a lightly floured surface, into a rectangle approximately 16 x 22 inches. Spread the softened butter (for the filling), evenly across the whole rectangle and sprinkle evenly with the prepared lemon sugar. Starting with a long end, roll the rectangle carefully into a lovely tight log and use a long piece of floss to cut the log into 15 equal pieces. Place each piece into a 3 x 5 pattern into your buttered casserole – there should still be some space between each roll at this point.
Here’s where you can refrigerate the rolls overnight! Just give them an hour or so to sit on the counter and come to room temperature, then another hour or so for the final rising. Either way the rolls need to be covered with plastic wrap.
If baking as soon as possible, the covered rolls will still need to sit in a warm place for an hour or until they double in size again and fill the pan.
When the rolls are ready to be baked – either the day of, or the following morning – preheat the oven to 350, uncover the rolls and bake for about 25 minutes until a lovely golden brown. If you’re using a thermometer, test a middle roll – they’re done at 200 or 205. As the rolls are baking, prepare the glaze.
For the glaze, zest the lemons and juice 1 of the lemons (so that you get about 2 tablespoons) into a small bowl. Use your (clean) electric mixer to beat the butter and cream cheese together for about 1 minute until smooth. Add in the icing sugar and salt and beat again until smooth – scrape down the bowl as needed. Add in the zest, lemon juice and poppy seeds and quickly beat until combined. If refrigerating the uncooked rolls overnight, I also put the glaze in the fridge overnight and then take it out and allow it to come to room temperature and soften up while the rolls rise in the morning.
When the lemon poppy seed rolls are perfectly baked, immediately and evenly spread on about half of the glaze and then leave it to sit for about 10 minutes to melt. After the 10 minutes, distribute the remaining glaze across the top and into all of the corners and serve. These are absolutely outstanding when enjoyed warm!