couple of weeks back, on one of those many days when people were questioning if somebody had twisted the planet to place us back in February, with the threat of rain hanging over us, I went to a talk at Borough Market with Stephanie. It was based around what makes good food writing – the styles of recipe writing, how best to introduce a dish, how many ingredients is too many. The best bit of the night was probably the food after the panel, but as I tucked a blanket up around my neck and listened to how food writing should carry emotion and take a reader to another place, I couldn’t help thinking What if it’s just a recipe you like? What if it’s no more complicated than that?
So. Here’s something that I like. It doesn’t need a personal essay or a link back to childhood. The recipe is all about a sweet, pillowy dough that makes a light floof sound when you turn it out and the joy of painting with jam and studding it with chocolate.
Making an enriched dough isn’t complicated, and doesn’t require any special ingredients, but it does take time. This is a blessing, really, because it’s a decent period of time for a cup of tea and a nap. The dough bakes up nice and fluffy, but the stars of the show are the three flavours that dance over your tongue, hitting different taste buds: the sweet of the raspberry jam; the slight sourness of cream cheese frosting; and a hint of bitterness from the orange dark chocolate hidden in the swirls.
Raspberry breakfast rolls with cream cheese frosting
1 (7g) package active dry yeast
240ml milk, warmed
100g caster sugar
75g butter, softened
A pinch of salt
2 medium eggs
450g plain flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
250g decent quality raspberry jam
40g dark chocolate, finely chopped (cubes of around 4mm) (Lindt’s orange dark chocolate worked beautifully)
100g cream cheese (“light” works fine!)
3 tbsp icing sugar
1 tbsp milk
A dribble of vanilla extract
Add the yeast to the warm milk and set aside while, in a large bowl, you mix sugar, butter, salt, eggs, flour and vanilla extract.
Add the milk/yeast to the bowl, and mix using a dough hook attachment. (I always thought you needed a standing mixer for this. You don’t! You can get dough hooks for normal electric whisks.) Eventually it’ll come together and become smooth. It is a wet dough but you’ll know you’re there when it starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl when you move the dough hooks near the edges. Transfer to an oiled/greased bowl, cover with cling film and set aside in a warm place for about an hour, or until doubled in size. Have that nap and cuppa. Grease a large pan (roasting tin kind of large).
When it’s risen, turn it out onto a fairly well floured surface (floof) and knock back. Roll it out to about 5mm thick, around 12 inches by 16, as rectangular as you can get it.
Heat the jam up in a small pan or the microwave, and use the back of a tablespoon to spread it over the dough. Sprinkle the dark chocolate evenly over it, and slice right down the middle, to make two halves of around 6×16 inches.
Roll each half in towards the cut, so you have two long logs, and slice each into around 20 pieces.
Transfer to the greased pan, leaving a little space between each roll for them to grow, cover with a tea towel, and again leave in a warm place for about half an hour. Preheat oven to 180C (170C fan).
When risen, bake for around 25 minutes, until golden. Turn out immediately onto a wire rack to cool*, so that the jam doesn’t have a chance to stick.
Mix together the cream cheese, icing sugar, milk and vanilla extract until smooth. You can store it in the fridge, just in a bowl or in a piping bag**, until you need it. If making the rolls ahead of time, just reheat them in a warm oven (around 120C) for five to ten minutes before serving. Pipe or spoon the frosting over the rolls just before serving.
* Place a chopping board or similar over the pan before turning – you may need to give it a little shake to loosen – and then place the wire rack over the bottom of the released rolls and turn again so they’re right way up.** Disposable plastic piping bags work well here – you can store in the fridge, transport, and just snip the end off when you need it.