Lemon Rosemary Sticky Bun Twists

9 Mar

Lemon and rosemary might not be a flavour combination you’re familiar with in a sweet context, but man oh man, does it ever work! I stumbled across a recipe for Meyer Lemon Rosemary Sticky Buns and bookmarked it immediately because it sounded so intriguing, and I planned to make them using one portion of challah dough. Then I saw Sawsan’s beautiful cinnamon twists and decided to use her technique instead of just making plain old spirals.

The result is these very tasty, very pretty Lemon Rosemary Sticky Bun Twists.

I used Meyer lemons for these, and it’s the first time I’ve ever gotten my hands on them. I’ve been hearing about Meyer lemons for quite a while, but had never seen them in any grocery stores – until a week ago, when they started popping up everywhere! A Meyer lemon is a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange, and has a sweeter, tart taste and thinner skin than a regular lemon. Quite honestly, I’m still not sure what all the fuss is about. They are tasty, but they don’t quite have the tang that a regular lemon does, and I think a good, ripe, organic lemon would give you just as much (maybe better?) lemon flavour. If you love Meyer lemons, go ahead and use them here, but don’t worry if you can’t find them – regular lemons will be just fine!

These smelled AMAZING coming out of the oven, and once I’d smothered them in a lemon-cream cheese glaze, they were pretty irresistible. The first sweet bite revealed subtle lemon and floral rosemary, the combination of which somehow reminded me of rosewater. Really unique, and really delicious. I found the flavour to be even better the next day (if they last that long, that is!).

Lemon Rosemary Sticky Bun Twists

Filling and glaze adapted from Eats Well With Others; twist technique from Chef in Disguise. This recipe uses one approximately 1 1/2 -pound portion of challah dough. Makes 8 twists.

When handling the dough, DO NOT knead it. While a certain amount of man-handling is necessary to roll and twist the dough, try to be as gentle as possible and use only a minimal amount of extra flour to keep it from sticking. If you feel you’ve over-worked the dough, let it have a longer rest before baking.

On a lightly floured surface, place:

approximately 1 1/2 lbs of chilled challah dough

Divide the dough into three roughly equal pieces, and gently shape/roll each piece into a 10-inch circle, using just enough flour to stop it from sticking. If the dough resists rolling, let it rest for a few minutes, then come back to it. Set the rounds aside while you make the filling.


In a bowl, combine:

1 cup white granulated sugar

1/4 tsp nutmeg

zest of 2 lemons

1 tbsp minced fresh rosemary

Mix together with your fingers until it resembles damp sand, then stir in:

2 tbsp lemon juice

Have ready:

3 tbsp unsalted butter, softened


Place one round of dough on your lightly floured work surface. Spread it with about 1 tbsp softened butter, then with half of the lemon-rosemary-sugar filling.

Top it with a second round and spread it with 1 tbsp butter and the other half of the filling. Place the final round on top and spread it with the last 1 tbsp butter. With a large, sharp knife, cut the round into 8 wedges. Flour the knife blade if needed, and make single downward cuts to keep things as neat as possible. With the tip of the knife, cut a ~1-inch slit in the middle of each triangular piece.

Pull on the sides of the triangle to widen the hole, then tuck the point of the triangle into the hole. Gently pull it through to form the twist.

Arrange the 8 pieces in a circle with their sides touching on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Pinch together the two points at the base of each triangle.

Cover the twists lightly with plastic wrap and let rest for about 1 hour at room temperature (or refrigerate for several hours or overnight). It’s OK if some of the sugar-lemon mixture seeps out while the twists are resting.

Preheat the oven to 375˚F and bake the twists for 20-30 minutes, until nicely browned and baked through in the middle.

While the twists are baking, prepare the glaze.


In a small bowl, cream until light and fluffy:

2 oz cream cheese

With a whisk, beat in:

1 tbsp lemon juice

Mix until smooth.


1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar

The glaze should be about the consistency of honey. Drizzle the glaze over the warm twists.

These are fantastic warm from the oven, and if you happen to have any leftover, the lemon-rosemary flavour is even better the next day.

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23 Responses to “Lemon Rosemary Sticky Bun Twists”

  1. wendyjv March 9, 2012 at 8:16 am #

    OMG, they turned out beautifully! What a fabulous combination and incredible way to twist them up. Very, very impressive! Way to go, Korena!!

    And, hey, nice pictures of both hands! How did you do that? :)

  2. maho March 9, 2012 at 8:33 am #

    Hi Korena

    I’m became an avid reader of your blog after realizing that my interests in baking and cooking are very similar to yours!

    Todays’s Lemon Rosemary Sticky Bun Twists looks absolutely scrumptious. And what a beautiful presentation! I’m definitely going to try the slit & twist method next time I bake.

    It’s funny that I was thinking exactly the same thing about Meyers lemon (I also live in Victoria and was looking high and low when trying to make salted perserved lemons). I’m intrigued by the lemon/rosemary combo, and since you suggest either type of lemon would work, it’s definitely going on my to-bake list.

    Thanks once again for the beautiful inspiring photos!

    • Korena in the Kitchen March 9, 2012 at 9:14 am #

      Thanks for commenting Maho! If you do make these, let me know how you like them :)

  3. Letters from Lotusland March 9, 2012 at 8:46 am #

    yum- i love anything sweet with rosemary! these are gorgeous!

  4. fivereflections March 9, 2012 at 5:57 pm #

    beautiful food art and looking delicious

    David in Maine USA

  5. frugalfeeding March 10, 2012 at 9:40 am #

    Fantastic! One of my favourite flavour combinations. Also, it is SO pretty – SO PRETTY. I want lots of it NOW.

  6. Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide March 10, 2012 at 11:40 am #

    Wow, those look great. I loved Sawsan’s version too. Soooo pretty. And tasty looking.

  7. Sawsan@ Chef in disguise March 10, 2012 at 10:15 pm #

    Thank you so much for the shout out Korena.
    I was waiting for your challah bread creations and oh this sounds so good.
    I have never tried the rosemary and lemon combination but it sounds really tempting!

    • Korena in the Kitchen March 10, 2012 at 10:23 pm #

      Thank YOU for sharing the method! So much prettier than regular sticky bun rolls. The lemon rosemary combo is pretty killer – I bet you could make an awesome candied lemon peel with rosemary infused syrup as a variation on your candied orange peel!

  8. Anne@FromMySweetHeart March 11, 2012 at 9:23 pm #

    Korena….these are a work of art! Sweet and savory and beautiful! : )

  9. Kathryn and Ross March 12, 2012 at 7:15 pm #

    Korena, those are almost too pretty to cover up with the glaze.But who can resist cream cheese and lemon? I really love the way they look before and after the icing. Great work!

    • Korena in the Kitchen March 12, 2012 at 9:14 pm #

      That’s what I thought too – I was kind of hoping that the glaze would be more transparent, but it worked out anyway I think :)

  10. Rose March 16, 2012 at 1:29 pm #

    Those look amazing! Thank you so much for sharing your recipes!

  11. Young Wifey March 19, 2012 at 6:29 am #

    What a great variation on one of my favorites! Gorgeous presentation!

  12. ohshineon September 23, 2012 at 8:00 pm #

    These look absolutely gorgeous — I’ve never even thought to combine lemon with rosemary.

    • Korena in the Kitchen September 23, 2012 at 8:07 pm #

      I’d only ever used it in a savoury application, but it is really good sweet!

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