Getting your hands on sour cherries isn’t easy. Their season is only a few weeks long—blink and you’ll miss them! And you can’t find them just anywhere. I’ve seen them in a grocery store exactly once in the last five years and it was a super pricey specialty foods store. These are basically a farmers market-only find.
Sour cherries are ideal for pie—I’m not sure I’ve seen them in any other application. Pie requires temperature control though, and the kitchen is the only room of my apartment that can’t be air conditioned 😢 Futzing with sticky pie dough while sweating and cursing whoever decided to put bars on a courtyard-facing second-story window is not my idea of a good time. Instead, I’m looking at the bright side and making something that needs a warm environment to work properly—Sour Cherry Sweet Rolls, y’all!
These rolls are made with my favorite sweet yeast dough, and positively loaded with sour cherries! In fact, the filling is literally just sour cherries, sugar, butter, and a pinch of salt. I considered adding some spices to pep things up, but this perfect seasonal fruit simply doesn’t need any adornment.
These rolls are delicious, but they can be a little tough to handle. Once the dough is rolled out and the filling is piled on, it’s time to roll everything up. This can be near impossible to do evenly, so please don’t stress yourself out about it.
Slicing requires a little more patience than most sweet roll recipes. Instead of slicing all the rolls at once, I recommend slicing them individually, using your free hand to keep them intact as you transfer each one to the pan. This may not go perfectly either, but just know that a rise will make any cosmetic issues disappear. If you have any cherries fall out, just nudge them back in the best you can—again, don’t let this stress you out. Everything is going to be fine. You can’t see it in these photos, but just know that these rolls were truly hideous after slicing. Post-rise and bake though, you’d never know it…
…and even if you did, icing would fix it anyway. This quick, five-ingredient icing is the perfect accompaniment to the sour cherry filling. It’s flavored with vanilla and almond extracts, and formulated to be extra thick. Once it’s spread over the top, it melts down and mingles with the filling and it’s just…divine.
These Sour Cherry Sweet Rolls are the best kind of mid-summer breakfast treat. Soft pastry, buttery, sweet-tart cherry filling, and delectable vanilla-almond icing—is there a better way to start the day?!
Sour Cherry Sweet Rolls
makes 12 rolls
1 3/4-2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup bread flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 packet (2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast (I use Fleischmann’s Rapid Rise Yeast)
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3/4 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk, beaten, room temperature
2 1/2 cups sour cherries (fresh or frozen), pitted
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
6-8 tablespoons heavy cream
Grease a 9×13-inch rimmed baking pan. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, bread flour, sugar, instant yeast, and salt. Set aside.
In a small saucepan, heat whole milk and butter until hot to the touch, about 115F. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold in milk mixture, followed by egg and yolk. Add more all-purpose flour until dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Knead 5-6 minutes before forming into a ball and placing in an oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 10 minutes.
Make the filling. In a small bowl, fold together sour cherries, sugar, and salt.
On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into an 8×14-inch rectangle. Use an offset icing knife to spread softened butter over the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch perimeter on all sides. Scatter cherry mixture over the top, leaving and excess liquid behind in the bowl. Starting with the long edge furthest from your body, tightly roll filled dough toward you, smoothing any seams with your thumbs. Carefully slice dough into 12 rolls—this may be very messy. Place rolls close together in prepared pan. Loosely cover the pan with aluminum foil. Place covered pan in a warm, draft-free place for 60-90 minutes, until rolls have doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 375F. Uncover rolls. Bake 25-30 minutes, recovering the rolls with foil if anything begins to brown too quickly. Let cool in the pan on a rack while you make the icing.
In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together confectioners sugar and salt. Whisk in extracts and 6 tablespoons of heavy cream. Mix until smooth, adding more heavy cream by the tablespoon until the desired consistency is reached.
Drop spoonfuls of icing over the warm rolls and spread around with the back of a spoon. Slice and serve.
Rolls are best the day they are made, but will keep covered at room temperature for a day or so.