Well, the title got the awkward part out of the way, right? But seriously. I love prunes! They are delicious. Like raisins only, you know, way better because they are made from plums. (Grapes should just stick to what they do best: fermenting.) I put prunes in smoothies, I've successfully thrown a handful into some beef stew (like so), and I've posted about a semi-healthy prune cake before on this blog. I'm v. drawn to prunes. What else can I say?
Maybe that I'm also drawn to poppy seeds? Or to seeds generally? I think that has to do with the nut allergy. Seeds are kind of like nuts but not, so I feel like I constantly have to experiment with them in order to feel like I'm not really missing out on much despite being deprived of essentially all tree nuts.
So. It follows quite predictably that one of my absolute favorite treats offered at Moose & Sadie's, one of the two neighborhood coffee shops I frequent, is a poppy seed-prune roll, comprised of a gooey-housemade-poppy seed filling, rolled inside a semi-sweet yeasted dough, and topped with a sugary, vanilla glaze. It is spectacular.
When I recently saw on Smitten Kitchen a poppy seed cookie recipe, I was intrigued and inspired by the idea of a homemade poppy seed filling. Especially one that could include prunes. Rolled inside a sweet dough and topped with a glaze. An orangey glaze.
One thing led to another. I basically messed around with a bunch of prunes and poppy seeds and every flavoring I could think of that sounded good and happened to be in my kitchen. Boiled it all for a while. Threw together my favorite yeast-free sweet roll dough, rolled the filling up, sliced the log into some rolls, and baked them for 15 minutes.
And now we're here. Frankly, I couldn't be happier.*
Prune Poppy Seed Rolls
From yours truly
Yield: 12 rolls
1/2 pound prunes
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup milk
1 cup poppy seeds
1 tablespoon orange peel
1/2 tablespoon vanilla
1/2 tablespoon Grand Marnier (or Cointreau) (optional)
1/4-1/2 teaspoon lemon or orange extract (optional)
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup cottage cheese
1/3 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup sugar
4 tablespoons melted butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/3 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
Preheat oven to 400 and butter a 10″ springform pan.
Place the prunes in a 2-quart saucepan and cover with water. Add brown sugar, milk, poppy seeds, and orange peel. Bring mixture to boil, then lower heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from heat, allow the mixture to cool, then blend the mixture (ideally using an immersion blender). Stir in vanilla, and Grand Marnier and lemon or orange extract (if using). (Note: This makes a lot of filling. WAY more than you'll need for the rolls. Like three times as much, maybe. So feel free to try to cut the recipe in half if you want, or stay tuned for part 2, or put the filling on toast with cream cheese or ricotta or on crackers or on ginger cookies.)
While the prune-poppy seed mixture is cooling, make the dough. In a bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda, and set aside. In a small food processor, mix cottage cheese, yogurt, sugar, melted butter, and vanilla, pulsing for about 10 seconds until just mixed and cottage cheese is pureed. Add flour mixture to cottage cheese mixture, pulsing in short bursts until dough is just starting to form a ball. (You can do this by hand too. Either blend the first slew of ingredients to make it a smooth wet blend, or just deal with the cottage cheese curds (which won't harm anything but will result in a slightly less-smooth dough) and stir the wet ingredients together and then add the dry blend.)
Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface (this is important - WELL. FLOURED.), kneading a couple times with floured hands until smooth enough to form a large ball. Flatten a bit with your hand and then, using a floured rolling pin and dusting your work surface with a bit more flour, roll dough out into a 12″x15″ rectangle. Spoon about two cups of the prune-poppy seed mixture onto the dough and spread evenly, leaving a 1" border of dough around the filling. Carefully, slowly, roll the dough up lengthwise, pinching ends. (If you'd like you can roll the log in plastic wrap and chill the dough for up to a couple days. Then, slice it whenever you're ready to bake it.) Using your sharpest knife, cut dough into twelve rounds. (If the dough is not chilled, they will squish a little bit, but don’t worry about it.)
Arrange the rolls in the springform pan and bake for about 15-20 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out with just a few moist crumbs.
While the rolls are baking, combine all the icing ingredients and beat together using an electric mixer, until fluffy-ish. Once rolls are done, allow to cool for about five minutes, then drizzle or spoon icing over buns, let cool for about five more minutes, then unmold the springform.
These freeze exceedingly well. Just throw them in the freezer once they've cooled completely. Microwave them for a minute or two, or thaw them and then toast them in the oven at 400 degrees for 5-10 minutes. If you've already iced them, the glaze will kind of soak in but that doesn't harm them (just makes them a bit sweeter, oh damn).