Recipe: Strawberry Cream Cheese Swirly Buns

Recipe: Strawberry Cream Cheese Swirly Buns

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Kelli Foster
May 14, 2017
(Image credit: Christine Han)

Ready to be the hero of the brunch potluck that everyone talks about for months to come? Skip the casserole and go straight for the breakfast treat of the moment: sweet strawberry swirly buns. Think: fruit and cheese danish meets your favorite cinnamon roll, but way better. Not only do they look seriously impressive, but they're also known to elicit squeals of delight with a single bite. Go for it and bite right in, or take it slow and unravel the swirl. Either way, each mouthful offers the promise of soft dough, sweet cream, and juicy, rich berries.

Don't Fear the Yeast

There can be a certain intimidation factor that comes with the fancier baked goods, especially if you've never made them before, but I'm saying this to you with many batches of swirly buns now under my belt: They are deceptively easy to make. Yes, there's the matter of the yeast, double rises, and what might appear to be a lengthy set of instructions, but nothing here is rocket science and even the most reluctant bakers can pull these off. And it all starts with a good, reliable yeasted dough recipe.

This recipe starts with the same buttery, flaky dough used in our sticky lemon buns. It's a tried-and-true favorite that's forgiving, not too finicky, and works wonderfully with a bunch of different fillings. So it's lemon one day and strawberries and cream the next!

(Image credit: Christine Han)

Make at Night, Bake in the Morning

Want a faster way to get these sweet, berry-laden buns on the table for breakfast? Of course you do! Get a head start by making the buns ahead of time. Follow the directions to prep the buns up until they're assembled and added to the baking dish. Then, instead of giving the dough another rise, cover the pan with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator overnight.

The buns will need about an hour at room temp before going in the oven, to let the dough rise again and roughly double in size. While the swirly buns bake, whisk together the cream cheese glaze and get ready to dig in.

5 Recipes for Fast and Fancy Baking

Fast and fancy baking is your secret weapon for creating stunning sweet treats that are deceptively easy to pull together. This week we're sharing five pretty spring desserts that will make you feel like a total baking whiz. Each one is impressive enough for celebration but doesn't require any elaborate ingredients or techniques. Along the way, we're sharing tips and tricks to make baking these fancy-looking desserts a breeze.

Strawberry Cream Cheese Swirly Buns

Makes 12 large breakfast buns

For the dough:
3/4 cup whole or 2% milk, warmed to about 100°F (warm but not hot on the inside of your wrist)
1 (1/4-ounce packet) dry active yeast
 (2 1/2 teaspoons)
1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar, divided
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs
Finely grated zest of 1 medium lemon
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 to 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1/2 teaspoon salt
Vegetable oil
Cooking spray or butter, for coating the baking dish

For the filling:
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
2 cups diced strawberries

For the glaze:
2 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons milk

Make the dough: Place the milk in the bowl of a stand mixer fit with the paddle attachment. Sprinkle the yeast and 1 teaspoon of the sugar over the milk, stir to combine, and let sit until foamy, about 10 minutes. Turn the mixer on to low speed. Add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, butter, eggs, lemon zest, vanilla, and 1 cup of the flour and mix to combine.

Add 3 cups of the flour and the salt and continue mixing on low speed until you have a soft yet sticky dough. If the dough still looks wet, add the remaining 1/2 cup of flour a few tablespoons at a time. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Switch the attachment to the dough hook. Knead at low speed until the dough is smooth, pliable, and stretchy, about 5 minutes.

Lightly grease the top of the dough with oil, and turn the dough over so it is coated in oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled, 60 to 90 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the filling.

Make the filling: Place the cream cheese, butter, and powdered sugar in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. (Alternatively, use an electric hand mixer and large bowl.) Beat on medium speed just until combined. Cover and refrigerate until ready to assemble the rolls.

Assemble the rolls: Lightly coat a 9x13-inch baking dish with cooking spray or butter; set aside.

Place the dough on a lightly floured surface. Use a floured rolling pin and roll it into a 10x15-inch rectangle. Spread the cream cheese filling in an even layer over the dough. Place the strawberries in an even layer on the cream cheese. Starting at one of the long sides, roll the dough up tightly, stretching and pulling the dough taut as you roll to keep the filling inside. Cut the dough crosswise into 12 pieces. Place the rolls cut-side up, reshaping as necessary, in the prepared baking dish.

Cover the rolls with a towel and let them rise again in a warm place until puffy and almost doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Make-ahead instructions: You can also refrigerate the rolls at this point. Cover the pan tightly with plastic wrap or a towel, and place it in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. When you are ready to bake the rolls, remove the pan from the fridge and let them rise for an hour before proceeding with baking.

Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 350°F. Bake until the tops of the buns are golden-brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the glaze.

Make the glaze: Blend the cream cheese and sugar with an electric mixer or in a small food processor until light and fluffy. Blend in 1 tablespoon of the milk at a time until the glaze is smooth and thinned.

While still warm, drizzle the buns with cream cheese glaze. Cool for about 10 minutes and serve warm.

Recipe Notes

  • Make ahead: The unbaked buns can be assembled up to 1 day in advance. Cover the pan tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Remove from the refrigerator and place at room temperature for 1 hour before uncovering and baking.
  • Storage: Store leftovers in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
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