Summer has nearly arrived, and we are coming upon the peak of blackberry season. What better way to celebrate than with these luscious Lemon Blackberry Sweet Rolls? Blackberries were on sale, and I had to take advantage and with a surplus amount, I knew I needed bake some of these up! I’ve taken my dough recipe from The Best Pull-Apart Cinnamon Rolls to make these. The filling is sweet and tart, made with fresh blackberries and lemon and generously coated between the layers of buttery brioche dough. The tangy cream cheese frosting is just sweet enough and offers a bit of zest from added lemon.
Some helpful tips to make these:
Carve out some time to make these. The dough will need around 45 minutes to rise and after assembling the sweet rolls, they will need another 45 minutes or so to rise again. The rolls will bake for 25 to 30 minutes. This recipe is not one to be rushed, but well worth the effort and time.
I use whole milk when making my dough as the higher fat content will contribute to fluffier, fuller rolls.
Use fresh blackberries if you can! If frozen, they do not need to be frozen when making the filling. Simply toss the berries into the saucepan and follow through with making the filling but do note that the frozen berries may need extra time to simmer down.
When making these rolls, the filling may get messy! I like to take any remaining filling and coat the tops of the rolls before putting them in the oven. This adds more flavor and locks in moisture, so the sweet rolls are incredibly soft and tender.
For the dough:
1 ½ cup whole milk
4 ½ teaspoons rapid or active yeast (or 2 ¼ oz. package)
½ cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, plus 2 egg yolks at room temperature
½ cup unsalted butter, melted
6 cups of bread flour, extra for dusting
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
¼ cup butter, softener (for brushing)
For the filling:
¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
½ cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Zest from 1 lemon
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups blackberries
For the cream cheese frosting:
1 8-ounce package cream cheese
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 ½ cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Zest of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon heavy cream or milk
Heat milk in a small saucepan until milk reaches about 110°. Remove milk from heat and place in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle yeast on top. Let rest for 5 minutes. Add in the sugar, egg and egg yolks and butter. Stir until fully combined. Stir in the flour and salt until a dough begins to form.
Attach a dough hook to the stand mixer and knead on medium speed for up to 8 minutes or until dough forms into a ball (you can knead by hand as well). If the dough is still very sticky, add in more flour by the tablespoon until dough no longer sticks to the bowl.
Transfer the ball of dough to a well-oiled bowl (a neutral oil works best), cover with plastic wrap and a warm, damp towel.
While dough is rising, make the blackberry filling. In a saucepan over low to medium heat, melt the butter. Whisk in sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest and flour. Add blackberries. When blackberries begin to incorporate and the filling begins to slightly bubble, use the back of a fork or a small masher to smash the berries down. Allow to simmer until filling is thickened (about 10 minutes). Remove filling from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
Once the dough has doubled in size, place dough onto a well-floured counter/surface and roll into a flat rectangle which should measure 28x18 (cutting rectangle in half may be easier to work with). Using a brush or spatula, spread ¼ cup softened butter over the dough. Leave about ¼” on one edge of the dough. Pour blackberry filling evenly in the center of the dough and using the back of a spoon or spatula, spread filling evenly over the spread butter, again, leaving about ¼” on one edge of the dough.
Beginning with the smaller side of the dough, tightly roll dough into a log, pressing down the edge of dough that was not buttered to seal it. Trim edges of the roll log. Using a wire cake cutter or dental floss, cut 1-inch sections. There should be about 15 rolls. A serrated knife works however a wire or floss will provide a more precise cut.
Place lemon blackberry rolls into a greased 9 x 13 or 10x10 round cake pan (2 9x9 pans work fine but the larger pan provides better uniformity among rolls). I like to spread any remaining blackberry filling over the tops of the sweet rolls. Cover with plastic wrap and a warm, damp towel and let rise for 45 minutes.
Remove towel and plastic wrap and bake on 350° for 25 minutes. While baking, prepare the cream cheese frosting. Let rolls cool for 15 minutes before spreading frosting over them.