Let’s start this off with something highly unpopular and probably counterproductive: I am not a fan of sweet buns, or pulla, like they’re called in Finnish. I find they’re often painfully dry, lack in taste and make me feel so stuffy and bloated. This said, I feel like a weight has been taken off my chest, phew!
The first time I tasted saffron rolls was in December 2014, when I was attending a Finnish language and culture education program and Klaus was having his winter holiday from work. One day I came home and, as he used to do every day during his holiday, he had made lunch. But not only that, he had also baked us a dessert, namely these saffron cinnamon rolls and already back then thought that those rolls were a totally different story compared to any other buns I had tasted until that point.
Fast forward to last winter, we decided to bake and bring our baked goods to some of our friends that live in the same city. Of course the choice is easy, especially because we found ourselves in the possession of a fairly large amount of saffron, gifted to us by a couple of friends. Searching recipes online I disliked the fact that all require a high amount of yeast and the rising time was as short as 20 minutes. No wonder I always feel so bloated after eating buns!
So we started to experiment and the following is the result of our experiment, in two versions: one using yeast and one using sourdough. Both came out as good in my opinion, so you can choose whichever version you prefer.
But we wanted to go beyond, flavorwise, so we introduced a glaze that, I guarantee you, will step up the bun game a notch. I mean, I’ve heard these rolls be called the best rolls ever tasted by several Finnish people, who have eaten buns and rolls all their lives making them not mere experts, but highly trained critiques of sweet buns. I’m talking about an Orange Vanilla Glaze. Sounds delicious, right? Think of the combination of the following flavors: cardamom, cinnamon, a hint of saffron, orange and an aftertaste of vanilla. Heaven, am I right?
Before getting to the recipe, a few reminders:
- This is a recipe for a slow rising dough. The benefits of this technique go beyond making the final product way more digestible, it also enhances and combines the flavors for a totally different experience.
- If you want to skip the cinnamon butter filling (but then again, why would you?), this recipe works well also for basic buns.
- I know, saffron is expensive and I guess pretty hard to find in some parts of the world, so yes, this recipe will work totally fine even without the saffron, although it will lose its beautiful yellow color and that delicate aftertaste.
- You can freeze these rolls, without the glazing, into airtight bags for up to a couple of months (haven’t tried to freeze them for longer than that) and thaw them at the desired time either in the microwave or on a very low heat oven. Serve immediately, topped with the glaze.
Saffron Cinnamon Rolls with Orange Vanilla glaze (Korvapuusti)
For the Rolls
- 0,5 g saffron
- 5 g fresh yeast or 60 g active sourdough
- 250 ml milk 1 cup
- ½ tbsp cardamom
- ½ egg
- 90 g granulated sugar 1/3 cup + 1 1/2 tbsp
- 450 g all purpose flour 3 cups
- 80 g very soft salted butter in cubes
- ½ tsp flaky salt
- 30 g very soft butter
- 1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
- ½ egg for brushing
- 1 tbsp. milk or water
For the Glaze
- 40 g very soft butter
- 40 g heavy milk
- 60 g icing sugar
- Zest of one orange
- ¼ tsp vanilla extract
- With a mortar, reduce the saffron to powder.
- Place in a saucepan the milk and gently heat it until it will be lukewarm. Add into the pan the yeast or sourdough, the saffron, the cardamom and the sugar. Stir until the sugar won’t be dissolved.
- Break an egg into a small bowl and beat it with a fork. Stir half of the egg into the milk batter. Keep what’s left of the egg, we’ll need it later to brush the rolls.
- Place the flour in a stand mixer bowl and add the salt. Turn your stand mixer on and add the milk batter little by little.
- Add the butter cubes, one at a time, and work until completely dissolved.The dough will be a little sticky to the touch, so don’t be tempted to add more flour – this will make the rolls dry.
- Cover the bowl with a damp, clean kitchen towel and leave the dough to rise for 12 hours.
- Line two baking sheets with baking paper.
- On a floured surface, roll out the dough into a 45 x 30 cm (19.6 by 12.5 inch) rectangle.
- Spread the butter evenly over the dough, almost all the way out to the edges.
- Sprinkle the cinnamon on top of the whole dough.
- Roll the dough upon itself.
- Use a knife or a bench scraper, cut triangles approximately 6cm wide.
- Turn the triangles with the pointy end upward and flatten it using one finger. Let the rolls rise for 30 minutes, meanwhile the oven preheats.
- Preheat the oven to 225°C/437°F.
- Whisk together the egg and milk or water in a small bowl. Brush the rolls with the egg mixture.
- Bake one sheet at a time, for 12 minutes or until the rolls are golden brown. Let the rolls cool down.
- Stir all the ingredients together. Top the rolls with the glaze.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this recipe and you’ll enjoy replicate it! These rolls are really one of my flagships baking goods and I really hope you’ll love them as much as me and my friends and family do! Thank you so much for being here and allowing me to do the work that I love: create and photograph recipes for you all to enjoy!