Once Upon a Raspberry-Swirl Sweet Roll

I was inspired to cook this recipe when reading through “Food and Wine” magazine.  If you like fruity breakfast fare, these are a great lazy morning breakfast that can be done the evening before and then baked the morning of.  I had to make a few changes to the recipe, and I had to MacGyver my mixer at one point, but I would still recommend them.  This dough was so amazing, it turned the whole experience into a baking fairytale for me, so thank you for bearing with the storytelling.  And, while I recognize that I am not especially sweet or little, especially when I’m baking or post-consumption of the baked goods, poetic license exists for good reason.  That being said, the term “little” IS accurate when referring to my chef status…okay, okay, enough self depracation, on with the food tale…

Once upon a time there was some milk,  sugar, yeast, butter, eggs, salt and flour.  They all came together in an electric mixer, thanks to the not-so-skillful hands of a sweet little chef.  The directions said to beat them together for 10 minutes, and so the little chef did just that.  The mixer did a lot of jostling about. 


So much jostling that after it had been turned off the bowl was stuck to the base of the mixer.  Our sweet little chef was faced with a dilemma.  She could not muscle the bowl off the stand.  As hard as she tried with her strong little chef muscles.  So, (after removing the dough) she filled the bowl with ice water.  Still, no movement.  It had jostled itself into stuckedness.  That’s when MacGyver comes onto the scene in this hot-oven-of-a-fairytale.  It turns out that Pam cooking spray is an ideal lubricant for stuck-together kitchen appliances.  A little spray here, a little spray there, the bowl was loosened. 

In the meantime, the ingredients had got themselves together and formed the most lovely dough you ever saw.  I do mean that, this dough was lovely.  See –

So pretty, smooth and pliable.  After rising and kneading, it rolled out like this:

This is some seriously smooth dough.

It made such a pretty little rectangle.

I love this dough.

I can’t say enough about this dough.

It is worthy of a yeasty sonnet.

Enough about the dough.

Once the dough was rolled out (last mention, I promise) then the fruity filling was added.

One frozen package of raspberries, sugar and cornstarch.  Stir it up and then spread it out.

Then roll the entire thing up and slice it like so:

Then lay them in your pan and let them rise some more.  That’s how yeasty rolls are, you beat them down but they will rise again… ( I am so sorry, I could not help myself)

To bake or not to bake.  Ah, the dilemma that faces our sweet little chef.  But, there is nothing better on a Saturday morning than the smell of freshly baked goods, so our heroine/MacGyver girl/boosted-ego-blogger chooses to refrigerate and bake in the morning.  Then glaze.  And this is what she gets:

Yumminess.  Tummies live happily ever after.  The End.

Here’s the recipe, and it includes my changes and tips                                                                  (Food & Wine, January, p.105 – my highschool English teacher would SO not be proud of this bibiliography):

Raspberry-Swirl Sweet Rolls

Active:30 min Total:4 hr. 30 min (or overnight)

Makes 16 rolls


1 cup milk

2/3 cup sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast

1 stick unsalted butter, softened

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest*

1/2 tsp. fine sea salt

4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting


One 10-oz. package IQF (Individually Quick Frozen) raspberries, NOT thawed**

1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon cornstarch


3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar

3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 1/2 Tablespoons heavy cream

* – I skipped the lemon zest ** – I used a run-of-the-mill 12 oz. bag of frozen organic raspberries *** – it can’t ever hurt to double your glaze recipe, the more the merrier!

1.  Make The Dough  In a small saucepan, warm the milk over moderately low heat until it’s 95 degrees F.  Pour the warm milk into the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the dough hook and stir in the sugar and yeast.  Let stand until the yeast is foamy, about 5 minutes.  Add the softened butter, eggs, grated lemon zest (or not) and sea salt.  Add the flour and beat at medium speed until a soft dough forms, about 3 minutes.  Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the dough is soft and supple, about 10 minutes longer.  (Warning:  Jostling may occur at this point.  Stand by with cooking spray, just in case.)

2. Scrape the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it with your hands 2 or 3 times.  Form the dough into a ball and transfer it to a lightly buttered bowl.  Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 1 to 2 hours.  Start writing your Ode To Dough.

3. Line the bottom of a 9-by-13 (inch) baking dish with parchment paper, allowing the paper to extend up the short sides of the pan.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and, using a rolling in, roll it into a 10-by-24 inch rectangle.

4. Make The Filling  In a medium bowl, toss the frozen raspberries with the sugar and cornstarch.  Spread the raspberry filling evenly over the dough.  Tightly roll up the dough to from a 24-inch-long log.  Working quickly, cut the log into quarters.  Cut each quarter into 4 slices and arrange them in the baking pan, cut sides up.  Scrape any berries and juice from the work surface into the baking pan between the rolls.  Cover the rolls and let them rise in a warm place until they are puffy and have filled the baking pan, about 2 hours.  (be prepared for the berries to release their juice at this point and the bottom of your pan to fill with a beautiful red raspberry sauce which will then get absorbed into the bottom of the rolls.  Don’t be afraid, it still comes out beautiful.)

5. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  ***WHOA!  Wait, that is pretty hot – I would back this down to 400 or even 375, you play with the temp if you need to.  I tried the 425 and my rolls were browned only halfway through the cooking time.  Don’t make my mistake, cook a little cooler!***  Bake for about 25 minutes, until they are golden and the berries are bubbling.  Transfer the pan to a rack to cool for 30 minutes (or 15 if you can’t wait)

6.  Meanwhile, Make The Glaze  In a small bowl, whisk the confectioner’s sugar with the butter and heavy cream until the glaze is thick and spreadable. 

7.  Invert the rolls onto the rack and peel off the parchment paper.  Invert the rolls onto a platter.  Dollop glaze over each roll and spread with an offset spatula.

Make Ahead  The recipe can be prepared through Step 4.  Cover the rolls, refrigerate overnight and then return to room temperature before baking.

This dough was so lovely and yummy, I am going to give it a go with just a buttery/cinnamon sugar filling for some good old fashioned cinammon rolls…I’ll let you know how that turns out when I get to it.


A Date at Sunrise

On our spring break trip last week, Richard and I had a couple mornings together of being some of the first skiiers up the lifts and to make fresh cuts in the new snow.  It was so quiet and peaceful.  Breathtaking.  My heart sang a praise song to our Creator, the artist who rendered this sunrise painting, and luckily no one was around too close because it came right out of my mouth –  loud. 

“Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” (Psalm 90:2)

“Praise the Lord from the heavens, praise him in the heights above.  Praise him, all his angels, praise him, all his heavenly hosts.  Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars.  Praise him, you highest heavens and you waters above the skies.  Let them praise the name of the Lord, for he commanded and they were created.”  (Psalm 148:1-5)

That’s not all that God created.

I have to say that the view in the other direction was also stunning.

Well, hello there, good lookin’.

What are you doing later?

Skiing with your wife?

Lucky lady.

Very lucky lady.

My husband is a much more advanced skiier than I am, but he managed to stay entertained on the blues with me most of the time.  Or at least he did a really good job of pretending that he was.  We had more “date time” than we’ve had in the last year put together.  Not ’cause we don’t try, just that life and 3 kids and commitments have a way of cramping a “couple-on-the-town” kind of style.  So, we try to “date” when our kids go to bed.  Eat a late dinner together, watch a movie, just sit and talk.  Sometimes it works, sometimes we fall asleep.  It’s okay, sleep is good, too.  But, while we were in the mountains we got some fun awake time together.

A girl could do so much worse.  How God has worked in my life through this man is a testimony of His love for me.  I am not worthy of the gifts God has given me, they humble me everyday.  I am so thankful for you, Richard.  You amaze me with your solid love and your ambition to be a godly man.  And on top of all that, you are a total stud muffin.

Hope I didn’t embarass you too much.  I love you.

Chili Dogs and Songs of Praise

We came across the following sign on our way home from the mountains this week.

Since I love scripture and I love junk food, I can relate.  This sign gives me a hankerin’ for a chili dog and a cold root beer.  Digging into the Word, I found something much meatier (and better for my cholesterol):

“Surely God is my salvation;  I will trust and not be afraid.   The Lord, the Lord, is my strength and my song;  he has become my salvation.  With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.”  (Isaiah 12:2-3)

The song Isaiah writes of in these verses is likened to the one sung by the Israelites upon their deliverance from Egypt in Exodus 15.  The Israelites were slaves to the nation of Egypt.  They were oppressed in every possible way.  By oppressed I mean the severe and unjust use of force and authority(thefreedictionary.com)   The Egyptian king had ordered the Hebrew midwives to murder all male babies after they were born.  Serious oppression.  Out of the distress of God’s people, one baby boy was born and hidden away in a basket in the reeds, then discovered and chosen to be raised up in the Pharaoh’s household.  His name was Moses.  God chose him to lead the nation of Israel to freedom out of Egypt, which he did after numerous and horrible plagues on the people of Egypt.   Moses walked God’s people to freedom on dry ground in the center of the Red Sea.  Once they had passed through, the Isralites turned and saw their oppressors of the last 400 years brought to death in the waters of the sea.  They sang this song,

“The Lord is my strength and my song;  he has become my salvation.  He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.”  (Exodus 15:2)

While the triumphant praise of the Israelites in Exodus is similar to that of Isaiah, the prophet is being, well, prophetic.  He is writing a hymn of praise that will rise from the people who experience the joy of Christ’s salvation.  The one true God has delivered believers from eternity in hell to eternal life with Him.  The vessel was Jesus Christ, the son of God.  He is salvation, “the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:2)  And here is something that just blesses my socks off and will hopefully start to pull all of these ideas together.  Not only are we saved by grace, but we have been given the Holy Spirit. “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship.”  (Romans 8:15)  Wow.  I don’t think I realized how heavy the chains were that held me in bondage to sin and this world until I began breaking free of them through the power of the Holy Spirit.  WE are no longer slaves, we are children of God, set free to live a victorious life in Christ.  That is cause for some serious songs of praise.  Sing them out loud!

The Avalon song “Orphans of God” has been stuck in my head lately, partially because of my precious friend Darlene, but ultimately because I belong to a Heavenly Father. 

Who here among us has not been broken?

Who here among us is without guilt or pain?

So oft abandoned by our transgressions,

if such a thing as grace exists then grace was made for lives like this.

Come ye unwanted and find affection.

Come all ye weary, come and lay down your head.

Come ye unworthy, you are my brother.

If such a thing as grace exists,

then grace was made for lives like this.

There are no strangers, there are no outcasts,

there are no orphans of God.

So many fallen, but HALLELUJAH, there are no orphans of God.


Mountains of Memories

The first year that we moved out to Colorado, my mother-in-law (aka Nana) and father-in-law (aka Grundaddy) came up with a wonderful idea.  They offered to bundle all of our birthday and Christmas presents into lift tickets and lessons for Spring Break skiing in beautiful Breckenridge.  My mother-in-law would even fly out to help babysit the too-young-to-ski crowd, and maybe catch a couple of runs down the mountain, too.  Of course, we agreed, what a great idea.  I don’t think we ever could have known what an amazing gift they were offering.  We have had family time, husband-wife time, mommy-daughter time, daddy-daughter time, Nana time, … time for some incredible and precious memories.   Like these…

The girls ready to take on ski school.

We came across Martha Claire’s little ski class on the slopes.  

                                                                                               Her instructor was pretty impressed, by the end of the day our girl was actually beginning to master the parallel turn, and this is only her 2nd time on the slopes. 

                                                               Go, Marfy!

A snowy family morning on the mountain, the girls showed us what they had learned in their lessons the day before. 

They are little rockstars.

Contrary to the sunny smiles of the day before, Marfy is actually crying behind her gator.  It was cold and snowy for the little mouse – we let her call it a day.

Splash time with Nana, ’cause it’s not all about the snow.  William’s karate kid pose.

The indoor-outdoor pool.  Personally, I prefer the indoor part.  Although, it is pretty cool to be surrounded by the snow and mountains while you swim.

Just some kidding around…I can’t help myself, they’re so cute…and all getting along, miraculously.

Richard and I got lots of much desired “date” time .  More about that in another post to come…

The last day, Caroline and I had some time together to ski and explore.

My sweet girl, she summoned up the courage to take me through Ripparoo’s forest even though she had come out of her ski in there a couple days before.   Sure enough, over the bridge and into a big dip in the trail and Mommy busted, but Caroline kept her feet beneath her.  When you read a sign warning that it is an adventure for kids,

take them seriously.  The younger you are, the closer you are to the ground.  Ouch.

                                                                       Nana and Grundaddy, we can never thank you enough for these times we have gotten to share together.  We will treasure them always.  We love you!

Meatloaf – More than Meets the Eye

This week has been a particularly busy week.  We only got to share one whole family meal between last Sunday and next Sunday.  I was in the middle of preparing a fancy spread.  Okay, it was meatloaf and ketchup.  I gave Richard a call to check on his arrival status, and he was running late.  Now, I am going to confess something.  Some nights I have all kinds of grace for my husband working late, but most nights when it happens I get flat out aggravated.  It’s something I need to work on, I know this.  That night, as I hung up the phone with him, I could literally see myself at the crossroads – do I stay calm or do I get upset??  Then, light bulb!  I have a warming drawer in the bottom of my oven.  This is my first oven to have one, so I rarely think to use it.   What a great invention.  I had lots of extra time to “top chef” my side dishes instead of just steaming vegetables.  Everything looked so good we had to upgrade the meatloaf to barbecue sauce instead of ketchup. And, I had to take a picture.  It’s the prettiest meatloaf dinner I ever made.

This little story does have a deeper lesson for me.  I am a planner and an organizer.  Once I have my plans made, I expect them to be carried out in just the way I’ve intended.  I can be extremely inflexible.  In my current bible study we are learning about Jonah (boat, storm, big fish – that one).  The focus for me has been how to welcome divine interventions in my life with an attitude that serves God’s purposes and not my own.  I need to desire His results, not my own.  There is a difference between ownership and management.  I can really relate to Priscilla Shirer as she writes, “Jonah is a quintessential picture of a person who serves God and yet still seeks to hold the title role in his story…Jonah had done what we often do – take ownership of that which we’ve only been asked to manage…We receive a gift from God and subconsciously take ownership of it.  We become disgruntled when God tells us to use it in a way we hadn’t planned.”  (Jonah:  Navigating a Life Interrupted p.24)

What does this have to do with meatloaf?  Well, for me it breaks down like this.  God gave me the ability to make meatloaf and serve it to my family.  I decide I am going to do that at 6:15 p.m. on Tuesday night and Richard, Caroline, Martha Claire and William will eat it.  If something comes along like Richard working late, my plans get interrupted, and I have a tendency to get mad and frustrated that it is not working out my way.  I am not looking for the opportunity that the interruption has presented.  On Tuesday the interruption of Richard’s working late gave me the opportunity to prepare something much more tasty and beautiful than the meal that was originally intended.  What if the interruption was a hungry neighbor, and we got the opportunity to serve and fellowship with them.  And, that’s just some interrupted meatloaf.  God has interrupted our lives for much larger opportunities than dinner.  Sometimes we can take our current plan and put it in the warming drawer for later, and the final product ends up way better than it originally would have turned out.  Sometimes we have to scrap our current plan altogether.  The important thing is that we having the willingness to follow God’s “recipe” and design and not our own.  “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10)

The “Joy” of Cooking

When we lived in Georgia we had a short-lived tradition of celebrating New Year’s Eve with my sister and brother-in-law. Sometimes at our place, sometimes at theirs. We have many wonderful memories of those evenings, but one year stands out in particular. My “Southern Fried” sister has recently been recounting her adventures with beef, and her ramblings conjure memories of a very special steak feast.

It was a beautiful New Year’s Eve in Atlanta that year, and the weather was perfect for grilling up some steaks.  The kids were off playing, the men were lighting the grill, and my sister and I were doing the food prep together.  My job assignment was oiling and seasoning the beautiful steaks.  The grill masters cooked each steak perfectly to order.  We all sat down and prepared to fill ourselves with some yum cow.  After a couple of bites I noticed a strange burning sensation in my mouth.  Not a spicy hot burning, but like a chemical burning.  Based on the faces I saw around the table, I could tell that everyone else was having a similar experience.  All of a sudden, something occurred to me.  I ran to the kitchen, on the way wanting to melt into the floor.  You see, my sister loves to decorate her kitchen up.  It is always one of my favorite places to be because it is so inviting, she thinks of all the details.  Details like tacky dishwashing liquid bottles that sit by the sink.  She doesn’t like them, so she had transferred all of her lemon dish soap into an unlabelled olive oil bottle.  Sitting on the counter near the sink.  (At this point I would just like to mention, in my own defense, that she had given me one of these oil bottles.  And, I stored my olive oil in it.          ’cause it is an oil bottle.                whatever.)  So, if you’re not familiar with olive oil, it’s yellowy green, kind of like, um, lemon dish soap.  I think you can put it all together.  Chef Mary had rubbed the beautiful, thick and tasty beef with dish soap.  And steak seasoning.  And, for the record, lemon dish soap does not taste lemony.  It just burns.  And so, we ate leftovers.

I would like to thank my very unforgetful family.  Every once in awhile, I get a comment, like “these steaks aren’t as lemony fresh as some others I’ve tasted.”  Or, “Mar, did you clean these steaks real good before you grilled them?”  Or the one donated by my generous sister one night as I was prepping some pork chops while talking to her on the phone, and she encouraged me to “be sure to cook those chops with Joy, sister.  Lemon Joy, that is.”  It’s been like 5 years, people.  While I didn’t discover an amazing new way to marinate steaks, and seriously, I don’t recommend the soap method…every time we splurge on a steak night, I get a lot of joy from the memories.

Laugh Lines

My grandmother, Mimi, had a head full of silver and gray hair.  At the end of her life, deteriorating health prevented her from keeping routine beauty parlor appointments, and her hair grew out in the most astonishing shade of deep slate gray with only a tiny amount of salty white in it.  I did not understand why, for the last several decades, she had been frosting her hair to look whiter and more aged than it actually was.  She told me it was because once she turned 50 or so she felt like she ought to look her age.  Come again?  Pardon?  Such an attitude flies in the face of today’s beauty standards such as”don’t deny your age, defy it.”  Yet, in my mind she will always be one of the most beautiful people I have ever known.

We go to some crazy lengths for youthful beauty these days.  Example:  “Botulinum neurotoxin is the most poisonous substance known. If inhaled, 1 ug would kill a person.1 It exerts its effect by paralyzing striated muscles or the autonomic-innervated muscles. The muscle paralyzing feature of botulinum toxin, when used beneficially, has proven to be useful in more than 50 pathological conditions, including cosmetic applications. Today, botulinum neurotoxin injection is the most commonly performed cosmetic procedure in the world.”  (source)  We inject this stuff into our faces?  It is ironic that the most popular source of eternal youth is a deadly poison.

For some of us, I wonder if our hyper-vanity isn’t just a symptom of something else.  Life has caused the lines and creases.  Is there something we want to erase from the past?  Some pain or hardship that has led to frowns and furrows.   How different would we be if we didn’t have these “wrinkles” in our lives?  Where would we be now?  Who would we be now?  If I hadn’t suffered loss, I wouldn’t know the comfort of a Heavenly Father.  If I hadn’t suffered earthly rejection, I wouldn’t know the contrast of God’s unconditional love.  If the world had satisfied all of my needs, I wouldn’t know how much I have to depend on God every single day.  Often when life is hard, we are being put through the refiner’s fire (Malachi 3:2).  In the process of refining metals, the raw metal is heated in the fire until it melts and the impurities separate from the metal and can be removed.  Once it has been refined, the worker can look into the purified metal and see his reflection.  This is such a perfect picture of how God uses the tough times to refine us, to work in us, to get rid of our impurities so that His reflection becomes more and more clear to the people who see us.

I really want to trust God to the point that I have a genuine peace instead of a dread for the challenges the future holds.  I can trust Him because He is who He is, loving and just.  I can also base this trust on the redeeming work He has done with the “fires” in my past.  So, while I am definitely not suggesting a boycott on facial creams, make-up or exercise, I am going to readjust my priorities and my perspective.  Laugh lines vs. crow’s feet… given the choice, I’m not pickin’ the old bird.  (and, remind me of this in about 10 years, please!)