When we think of an indulgent Sunday morning breakfast sweet rolls instantly come to mind. The delicate texture and sweet topping make this pastry a very special treat. Instead of cinnamon as the main flavoring these lemon cream cheese sweet rolls are brimming with zesty citrus flavor and a creamy topping that’s irresistible.
These rolls don’t take long to bake, but they do require some prep work since they not only have a buttery filling, they also need time to rise. To start this recipe you’ll need to heat up some milk until it’s just warmed.
You don’t want the milk to be too hot. Add dry activated yeast to the milk and allow it to come to life. You should see the mixture begin to get a bit foamy after about 5-10 minutes.
Next you’ll mix together butter, eggs, sugar, vanilla, lemon zest, and 1 cup of flour into the milk mixture and stir until just combined. Then add in the nutmeg and salt and then the rest of the flour and mix.
Once your dough comes together you’ll knead it for 5 minutes. Or, if you have a stand mixer then you can let the dough hook do the work instead. This dough needs to be set aside in a greased and covered bowl for 1 hour to rise and it should double in size.
While the dough is rising make your filling. This is easy to mix up. Combine sugar, lemon zest, butter, and nutmeg for filling. Slowly add lemon juice and whip until completely blended. Refrigerate for 30 minutes so that the mixture isn’t runny when it goes onto the dough.
Roll out the dough into a large rectangle about 10″x15″ and spread the filling over the dough, leaving the edge free from filling. Then roll up the dough and cut into 12 equal pieces and place into greased baking pan.
Bake for 35 minutes at 350°F. While that’s baking you can work on the frosting. Combine lemon juice, cream cheese, and powdered sugar in a bowl and blend until smooth. Allow rolls to cool before adding the cream cheese frosting. Finish with a generous sprinkling of lemon zest over the top and you’re done.
These sweet rolls do take some work, but the flavor is so wonderful that you’ll be glad you made this special recipe. If you can’t get enough of lemon and cream cheese together then this is the sweet roll recipe for you.
Lemon Cream Cheese Sweet Rolls
Makes 12 rolls
1h 30m prep time
35m cook time
For the dough:
- 1 1/4-oz packet dry active yeast
- 3/4 cup slightly warm milk
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 lemon, zested
- 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/8 cup vegetable oil
For the filling:
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 lemon, zested
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly-ground nutmeg
- 1/4 cup lemon juice (1-2 lemons)
For the glaze:
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- Zest of 1 lemon
- In a large bowl add warm milk and yeast. Stir and then let stand until mixture becomes foamy.
- Add in butter, eggs, sugar, vanilla, lemon zest, and 1 cup of flour. Mix until combined. Add in nutmeg and salt and stir again. Finally add in the remaining flour and combine. Dough will be sticky.
- Knead dough on lightly floured surface for 5 minute (or use dough hook attachment on stand mixer for 5 minutes). Dough should be stretchy at this point.
- Coat bowl a large bowl in vegetable oil and turn dough into bowl. Coat top of dough with oil as well. Cover with plastic wrap, followed by a kitchen towel for 1 hour while dough rises. Dough should double in size.
- In a medium bowl stir together sugar, lemon zest, butter, and nutmeg for filling. Slowly add lemon juice and whip until completely blended. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Flour work surface and turn out dough onto it. Gently form dough into a rectangle.
- Spread filling over dough and roll up dough tightly top down starting from the long end. Cut rolled dough into 12 slices.
- Grease a 13x9-inch baking pan. Place rolls flat on pan cover with towel to rise for 1 hour. Rolls can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours at this stage to later baking.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake for 35 minutes.
- While rolls are baking prepare the glaze by combining lemon juice, cream cheese, and powdered sugar in a bowl and blending until smooth.
- Top rolls with glaze and sprinkle lemon zest on top. Allow to cool at least 10 minutes before serving.
Recipe adapted from The Kitchn.