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
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
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.