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Swirls of Poetry : Date and Walnut Stuffed Carrot Rolls

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Hello there! Would you like to join me for a cup of tea and a warm, soft carrot roll?

Tell me more about the roll, you say?! 

Well.... Let me begin with saying I wanted to create poetry through baking.

No, really, I am not being facetious. I really wanted to create that harmonious, creative flow that makes poetry so evocative, into a tangible object that was food. In my imagination, that poetic effect would be to make something with a supple, welcoming note in each bite. One that makes you feel happy inside out. And, when you have cleaned your plate, leaves you with a distinct feeling of satisfaction. Perhaps, even that Garfield like grin of delight.

Yes, that was my intent. I mused on it for a while and decided that supple feeling would be best ascribed to soft, pillowy warm bread. When you bury your nose into freshly baked bread, you come away with a sense of lightness and that all is well with the world. Well, now, it can't any old bread but something that feels tactile and eating it feels like a rose unfurling its petals.

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Swirls...

That was the theme I settled on. I wanted swirls of soft pillowy bread with little bits of happiness tucked into them for surprise delight. Like an subtle note of alliteration hidden within a rhyme. When that poem then becomes a song. A song that stays stuck in your head for the whole day. 

Yes, a swirl bread with a sticky note. There we have it!


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The rest of course is logistics.

The base was a carrot dough with shredded red carrots for a touch of color.

Walnuts, dates and honey for the filling brightened with a cinnamon kiss. 

Creamy, oh so creamy, cheese sweetened lightly for the frosting.

And a final dusting of crushed pecans for crunch.

Ah! the joy of that first bite. Still warm, the crust coddled with the frosting and the center giving in gloriously. And then the nuts and fruit making up the final flourish. Only to repeat all over again with the next bite!

This is one tray that won't last long on Earth but will forever take space in your heart...!

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Carrot Rolls Stuffed with Walnut and Dates

with Cream Cheese and Pecan Frosting

Recipe adapted from NY Times. The recipe calls for 3 proofing intervals and it is well worth all that wait and dough turning.

I do recommend an overnight rest after the first rise for two reasons. One, it is just logistically easier, unless you have a whole day to sit by the dough. And, two, the long slow proof adds a lot of flavor and breaks down the wheat proteins even more.

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For the Dough:

3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

2 T + 2 T sugar

2 ¼ tsp active dry yeast

1 ½ tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt (if using unsold butter)

2 medium red carrots, grated fine

1 cup whole milk

1 large egg, lightly beaten

6 T butter, melted plus a little more to coat the bowl

For the Filling:

1/3 cup chopped walnuts

8-10 Mejdhool dates, chopped

1/4 cup light brown sugar

1 T honey

1 T ground cinnamon

¼ tsp  salt

4 T butter, melted

For the Frosting:

{I go heavy on this, feel free to reduce if you like}

6 oz cream cheese softened

3 T heavy cream

1/3 cup confectioners' sugar

handful chopped pecans

 

To make the dough:

Warm the milk in a pot until it’s warm to the touch but not yet simmering (110 F). Add 2 T sugar and the active dry yeast, whisking to dissolve and break up any clumps.

Let sit until it’s slightly foamy and starting to bubble, about 2 to 5 minutes. 

Meanwhile, combine flour, the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, the baking powder and the salt in a large bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix briefly by hand to combine.

Add milk mixture, followed by the egg and mix on low (or with a wooden spoon) to incorporate the ingredients evenly.

Add melted butter and grated carrots, and, continue to stir with a wooden spoon until a shaggy lump of dough forms, scraping down with your hands, as necessary to combine.

Attach the dough hook on the mixer and lock in the bowl to it. If not using a mixer, turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and proceed.

Knead dough on medium speed until it’s smooth, shiny and elastic, about 4 or 5 minutes. If doing by hand, this will take 10-15 minutes.

Lightly grease a large bowl with oil and place dough in the bowl. Cover tightly with cloth and place in a warm, draft-free area.

Let sit until the dough has about doubled in size, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Punch dough down to release any air that has built up. Cover tightly with cloth and chill the dough in the refrigerator, for at least an hour,  as long as overnight (RECOMMENDED).

To make the swirl rolls:

Once dough is chilled (it should feel firm and no longer flimsy), turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface and roll to a 16 x 10-inch rectangle. The rolled dough will be about 1/4 inch thick.

Combine the filling ingredients in a bowl. Brush surface of the dough with half of the melted butter and sprinkle the mixture in an even layer, patting to make sure it’s sticking. 

Starting at the end closest to you (the long side of the dough), roll dough up into a tight coil, pressing lightly as you roll to make sure there are no gaps between the dough and the filling.

Cut log into 12 even pieces, about 1 3/4-inch thick. Lightly coat a 9 x 13-inch (or 9x 9 + another, as I did) baking dish with oil, and, arrange dough in even rows, with the spiral facing upward and with a little space (1/2 inch) in between each piece.

{Again, at this point, the rolls can be covered tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerated overnight, if you'd like.}

Cover rolls lightly with cloth and place in a warm, draft-free area until the rolls have puffed (they won't quite double, but they will be noticeably fluffier and closer to touching) and spring back slightly when pressed with your finger, about 1 hour. (If you refrigerated the rolls overnight, this may take 1 1/2 to 2 hours.)

Heat oven to 350 F. Place rolls in oven and bake until they are golden brown and fluffy, about 32 to 35 minutes. Keep a close eye starting around 30 minutes.

To make the frosting glaze:

Whip together the cream cheese, cream and powdered sugar to a smooth spreadable frosting. Refrigerate till ready top use.

Once rolls are out of the oven, let cool for 2 minutes and then spread a thick layer of the glaze and top with pecans.

Let cool slightly in the pan but you can dig in while still very warm.. The best way to eat them!


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Share your creations tagging @ashafsk on Instagram and hashtag #MadeFromFSK