Counter Action: Orange–coconut sweet rolls


It’s November 16? What the heck? Where did autumn go?

I don’t know if it’s the new weather scheme, or the new crazed schedule, or the longer commute, or what … but ever since I moved here for grad school 14 months ago, time has been whizzing past me like a caffeinated peregrine falcon.

My default source for life allusions is Betty MacDonald’s The Egg and I, and here, as at many times, I will step back and let it explain how I feel.

Our spring and summer had been strenuous to the point of exhaustion and I, at least, having read many books about farms and farmers, had looked forward to winter as a sort of hibernation period. A time to repair machinery, hook rugs, patch quilts, mend harness and perform other leisurely tasks. Obviously something was wrong with my planning, for it took me sixteen hours a day to keep the stove going and three meals cooked. I leaped out of bed at 4 A.M., took two sips of coffee and it was eleven and time for lunch. I washed the lunch dishes and pulled a dead leaf off my kitchen geranium and it was five o’clock and time for dinner.

If you’re in a similar predicament, maybe you’re gulping down dried fruit and instant mac-and-cheese in the ten free minutes you have per day. But at some point in the near future, I hope you have the time to make something slowly — maybe a bean soup, maybe a pan of roasted vegetables, maybe these yummy rolls. Whatever it is, don’t feel guilty about taking the time to make it. Savour every minute it takes to prepare … and then savour every bite when it’s finished.


Orange–coconut sweet rolls

(using the Pioneer Woman’s cinnamon roll dough as a base)


  • 2 c. milk
  • 1/2 c. vegetable oil
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 2-1/2 tsp. (or 1 packet) yeast
  • 4 + 1/2 c. flour (divided)
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 T. salt
  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 3/4 c. coconut
  • 2 oranges
  • splash of orange juice
  • about 1-1/2 c. powdered sugar
  • pinch of salt


  1. Combine milk, oil, and sugar in a large pot. Heat and stir until comfortably warm (but not too warm to stick your finger in).
  2. Sprinkle yeast on top. Let sit for 5 minutes.
  3. Mix in 4 c. flour. Cover pot with tea towel and set aside to rise for 1 hour.
  4. Stir in 1/2 c. flour, along with baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Transfer dough to fridge while making filling.
  5. In small saucepan, brown butter. In toaster oven or conventional oven set to 375°F, toast coconut until golden-brown. Zest oranges and set zest aside, then peel, seed, and dice orange pulp.
  6. Turn dough out onto floured surface and shape into flat rectangle, roughly 12″ x 24″. Pour browned butter over dough, then sprinkle liberally with coconut, 3/4 of the orange chunks, and 1/2 of the orange zest.
  7. Starting from nearest long edge, roll dough and filling into a log. Cut into 1-1/2″ sections and place in casserole dish.
  8. Let rise 20 minutes, then bake at 375°F for 15–18 minutes.
  9. In small bowl, combine remaining orange zest and pulp with powdered sugar, splash of orange juice, and pinch of salt. Adjust powdered sugar:liquid ratio until you have a reasonably thin glaze.
  10. Remove rolls from oven. Top with glaze. Best right after baking, or keep covered at room temperature for 2–3 days.



Counter Action: Lemon–raspberry rolls

On Saturday, I decided to make mayonnaise.

Stay with me. We’ll get to the rolls soon.

rolls iii

I made mayonnaise for four reasons:

  1. I wanted some for sandwiches.
  2. I’m cheap.
  3. I wanted to see if it was as easy as Martha Stewart says. (I’m beginning to think that nothing ever is.)
  4. I was unsatisfied with the colour of my kitchen walls. I wanted some nice egg yolk flecks on there, courtesy of the food processor, which thinks it’s Jackson Pollock.

Sixty minutes, three appliances, several recipes, and one chemistry lesson on emulsions later, Houston … we have mayonnaise. It even tastes pretty good, although next time I think I’ll follow the blogosphere’s advice and not use EVOO.

rolls ii

Much like that mayonnaise, these rolls might appear to be too much work for the payoff. Two dough-risings and lemon-juicing and berry-mashing and glaze-mixing? It is a bit of work, my friends, but I promise the end results are totally worth it. The dough is soft and mildly sweet with flecks of lemon zest. The lemon juice and raspberries in the filling are a graceful and memorable pas de deux. The lemon glaze turns the whole thing into a celebration. And hey, if you wanted to sub blueberries for raspberries, or orange for lemon, or brown the butter before you put it into the filling, be my guest. We’re all about options here.

rolls v

Lemon–raspberry rolls

(Recipe from Joy the Baker)



  • 1 c. milk
  • 2/3 c. sugar
  • 1½ T. dry active yeast
  • ½ c. (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ tsp. lemon zest
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 4¼–5 c. flour


  • 1 c. raspberries (fresh, thawed, your choice)
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1 tsp. cornstarch
  • ¼ c. (½ stick) butter


  • 1½ c. powdered sugar
  • 2 T. lemon juice
  • 1 T. water


  1. Mix milk and sugar and scald (heat until just before boiling). Let cool until pleasantly warm and yeast-friendly. Add yeast and let sit 5 minutes.
  2. Add butter, eggs, salt, zest, and as much flour as you need to make a kneadable dough.
  3. Knead dough until smooth and elastic. Place in greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and tea towel, and let rise in a warm place for 60–90 minutes or until doubled in size.
  4. In separate bowl, mix raspberries, zest, sugar, and cornstarch, mashing raspberries slightly as you stir. Set aside. Brown butter and cool slightly. Set aside.
  5. Punch down dough and knead for 2–3 minutes. Roll into large, thin quadrangle. Pour browned butter onto dough. Add raspberry filling and spread to cover dough evenly.
  6. Roll dough into log and cut into 1½” rolls. Place in greased dish, cover, and let rise 1 hour.
  7. Bake at 350°F for 20–25 minutes. Let cool slightly.
  8. Mix glaze ingredients and pour over warm rolls.