These spiced saffron rolls are a dream and I have a lot to say about them. I love cinnamon rolls but they are often too sweet. This recipe features a saffron-infused dough that is slightly salty and almost savory, with a floral sweet & salty orange blossom cream cheese icing, that perfectly compliments and balances the sweetness of the filling. The filling is made of my favorite trio of spices, or what I call the holy trio: turmeric, cinnamon, and cardamom. All of these result in very soft, warm, and delicious rolls that will keep you cozy and go perfectly with a cup of hot tea.
The recipe is very simple and easy to make. The yeasted dough only requires one rise, after being rolled, which simplifies the process and saves lots of time.
These rolls make the perfect breakfast or dessert for any season or occasion. Make them for the holidays, for the cozy season, for brunch, or for the gloomy weekends. Share them with your family, your friends, and your loved ones. Stay cozy!
For the dough:
1 1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp saffron threads
2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
3 tbsps granulated sugar
1/4 cup softened butter*
1 large egg, at room temperature
For the filling:
1/4 cup softened butter
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp cardamom powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
Orange blossom cream cheese icing:
4 oz cream cheese, softened
40g (3 tbsps) butter* or brown butter, softened
1/2 tbsp orange blossom water
*Using this mixture of bread flour and all-purpose flour will yield a more bread-y and more structured dough. Bread flour has a higher protein content, and mixing it with a bit of all-purpose flour will yield the perfect structure while making the rolls super soft. However, if you don’t have access to bread flour you can use 360g of all-purpose flour. The rolls will have less structure but will still be very delicious.
*The warm milk should be between 100-110°F to bloom the yeast and saffron.
*Skip the sea salt in the dough if using salted butter.
Add the saffron threads to a mortar and pestle along with a pinch of salt or sugar and grind. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, pour in the warm milk, sugar, and ground saffron and mix. Whisk in the yeast, cover the bowl with a towel and allow it to bloom with the saffron for 10 minutes. It should become foamy after the yeast blooms.
In the same bowl, add the egg and whisk together. Next, add in the flour followed by salt, and mix using the kneading attachment of a stand mixer or a spatula until a sticky dough forms. At this point, add in the softened butter one tbsp at a time while kneading by hand or using the stand mixer. Work the butter into the dough and continue kneading until the dough no longer sticks to your hands.
Cover the dough and allow it to rest for about 10-15 mins in a warm place while you prepare the filling.
Whisk together the cinnamon, cardamom, turmeric, sea salt, and brown sugar in a bowl and set aside.
Take the dough out of the bowl and place it on a floured surface. Roll out the saffron-infused dough into a rectangle (roughly 15x9 inches). Evenly spread the softened butter on the rolled-out dough. sprinkle the spiced brown sugar mix all over it to cover the entire rectangle of dough. Roll the dough into a log and cut it into approximately 12 even rolls, using a sharp knife or the thread method.
Arrange the rolls in your buttered baking dish. You can use a rectangular or round cake pan.
Cover the pan with plastic wrap and place it in a warm place to rise. For this, I like to keep them in the turned-off oven with the oven light on. Let the rolls rest until doubled in size, about 1-2 hours.
If keeping the rolls in the oven to rise, remove them from the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F and bake the rolls for 20-30 minutes or until slightly brown and golden on top. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.
While the rolls are baking, prepare the icing. Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer, whisk together the cream cheese and butter or brown butter until smooth. Add in the powdered sugar and orange blossom water and whisk until thick and silky.
Spread the icing over the warm spiced saffron rolls. Decorate with edible flowers, dried rose petals, or orange zest. Serve warm and enjoy!