I’m finding that I really enjoy making things that challenge me in some way or another. It can be through a new technique, ingredient, or plain old getting your hands dirty and using some ingenuity to get the desired result. The stuff I have been making lately hasn’t been doing that for me. While I do have my reasons for what I’ve been baking, the shifting tides are certainly helping me refocus my direction. But we aren’t here to lament about that right now!
Nope. We are talking about Icelandic Almond Rolls. A cinnamon roll… but not. Puffy soft dough, smooth almond filling, and the perfect amount of almond icing. I have to say, I am totally digging the almond extract in the icings lately. These were fun for me to make. I got to play with almond paste for the first time, I broke a spoon in the process, and ended up with a good old math word problem that sparked a bit of conversation over on Google+. All of which resulted in what I am going go call a bakery worthy almond roll.
The challenges began with not needing the 30 rolls this recipe makes. Cutting the recipe in half wasn’t a big deal, I do it all the time. But as I was writing things out I got to thinking about how the half batch would effect the roll out dimensions. Normally I wouldn’t put too much effort into this but given that it would be going on the blog I figured I should follow through with the thought. The answer? Ask Will. He was excited to do some real world math that once he got the answer he shared it on Google+. Now that we have our answer, 10 x 17, we can get down to business.
The dough is a typical yeasted sweet roll dough. I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to work with… though I know the silicone mat helps add to the ease.
The filling is composed of a blend of almond paste, butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla that gets processed into a smooth spreadable filling.
Almond paste is a wonderful thing. When you open the can you get the most wonderful smell of almond heaven. It kind of makes you want to eat the paste right there… kind of, but don’t. I was a bit surprised at how hard the paste was. I was expecting it to be softer. So I did what seemed like the most logical next move… I grab a large spoon out of the drawer and dug in. Yeah, that wasn’t so smart.
It’s not just bent… I broke it. So uh use a knife or something really sturdy when trying to get the almond paste out of the can. But once it is out and blended with the other ingredients you get an easily spreadable paste.
With the filling spread out, roll it up jelly roll style. The recipe calls for 1 inch sections. Instead of eyeballing it, I laid my kitchen ruler on top and scored 1 inch marks with a small knife.
This gave me 12 exact 1 inch sections and the 2 end sections. Now for cutting, I used unflavored, plain dentil floss. It gives the cleanest cuts.
At this point the recipe calls for lining a muffin pan with cupcake liners and placing each 1 inch section into each of the liners. After placing one section in the pan I knew this wasn’t headed in a good direction. It barely fit in and we will had a second rise to do. Lightbulb! Jumbo muffin pan! A much much better fit, especially with the second rise in mind. But I only had room for 6 in the jumbo pan.
I recalled reading over on Cake & Vikings that she had a similar issue when making these. So I cut some of the sections in half but I wasn’t happy with how it kind of mangled the roll. But this is what I ended up with. I would have to wait and see how they turned out.
From left to right:
Row 1 & 2: 1 inch sections cut in half
Row 3: the ends
Row 4: 1 inch sections
The second rise calls for it to double in bulk, per usual. I let them sit for a good 2 hours which was probably a bit longer than they needed to sit. At least now I had a good picture of how they were shaping up.
Fascinating to see the shape they took given their restrictions, isn’t it?
So the verdict on the shapes? Depends on what you are looking for…
The section cut in half are kind of scrawny but nice for serving smaller rolls.
The jumbo pan resulted in a full size more spread out roll. These were nice because it felt like get the full effect of the filling and icing evenly distributed.
But for looks? As much as much as my instincts said no… the one inch sections in the regular muffin pan actually gave the best overall look.
I think this recipe has a ton of room to play around with getting the desired shape. Next time I make these I may cut the dough in half and roll out two thinner logs so I can get a much smaller roll. In any case, these are delightful breakfast/coffee rolls. I wouldn’t say they are a replacement to cinnamon rolls but instead a nice break from the norm. And the icing… I might even add almond laced icing to regular cinnamon rolls.
Icelandic Almond Rolls
Adapted from: The Great Scandinavian Baking Book
- 2 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
- 1/4 cup warm water (115 degrees)
- 3/4 cup whole milk, scalded and cooled
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg
- 3 to 3 1/4 cup flour
In a large mixing bowl add all the ingredients. Mix together to form a nice cohesive dough. Cover and let rest for 15 minutes.
Using a stand mixer with the dough hook attached, knead for 8 minutes. Till smooth and satiny.
Or if kneading by hand, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board/silicon mat/or counter and knead for a good 10 minutes, till smooth and satiny. Adding flour as needed to keep dough from sticking to board.
Remove dough from bowl and wash and dry the bowl. Now lightly grease the bowl with oil or pam. Place the dough back into the bowl, flipping it to lightly cover both sides with oil. Cover and let rise till doubled in bulk – about 1 – 1 1/2 hours.
- 1/2 cup almond paste
- 1/2 of an egg
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
In a food processor, blend together all the filling ingredients until completely smooth and spreadable. Set aside while you prep the pans and roll out the dough.
Line 2 regular muffin pans with cupcake liners.
Roll dough out to a 10 x 17 rectangle. Now spread the filling over the dough leaving a 1 inch border. Roll into a jelly roll.
Using a ruler, mark 1 inch scores across the top of the jelly roll. Then using a very sharp knife or a piece of dental floss, cut 1 inch sections.
Place each section in muffin pan with cut side up.
Cover with a light towel, set in a warm place and let rise till doubled in bulk. About 1 1/2 – 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake for 10 minutes till golden. While the rolls are baking, make the icing.
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1 – 1/2 tablespoon cream
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 1/2 cup toasted, chopped almonds (optional) for topping
Mix all but the almonds together to make a smooth glaze.
Once the rolls are out of the oven, let cool for 5 minutes in the pans. Then remove the rolls from pan onto a cooling rack. While still warm drizzle the icing over each of the rolls. Note: you may want to double the icing… I ended up making a second batch.
If desired, sprinkle with toasted chopped almonds.
Makes about 14