Parmesan Swirly Rolls

I’m an unabashed fan of Instagram.  Unsurprisingly, most of the content I consume outside of friends stuff consists of cooking/baking, house design and cats.  Thinking about it, I may follow more cat than human accounts.  If you follow me on the Gram (oh God) [@tmhostess], you’ll know that this basically mirrors the content I produce.

Like the technologically advanced game of telephone that it is, one of my favorite aspects of Instagram is discovering new to me accounts.  One such discovery a couple of years ago was Tiegahn Gerard of Half Baked Harvest.  Her food styling is so good that I enthusiastically followed her account for months just for its gorgeous aesthetic before I realized I could actually make everything she posts.

I know, I’ve never claimed to the be the quickest horse in the race.

I’ve made it a goal to experiment with yeast for the next few months (when my kitchen is finally warm enough to proof dough) and Tiegahn’s cheesy swirly rolls were at the top of my list.

This recipe is rich with possible variations but I went with parmesan and pesto for these Easter dinner rolls.

The dough is supple and incredibly easy to work with (I made some slight tweaks to it in an attempt to develop the dough’s flavor just a snidge).

The second proofing is subtle, but worth the time.

And, before you know it, you’ll have a pan full of cheesy, chewy rolls.

There will be enough to share.

But I wouldn’t blame you a bit (and I definitely wouldn’t tell anyone) if you decided not to.

Make these!

Parmesan Swirly Rolls

adapted ever so slightly from Half Baked Harvest


  • 1 C whole milk
  • 1 packet (about 2 tsp) instant dry yeast
  • 1 TBS honey or sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 TBS butter, melted
  • 3 1/2 to 4 C all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 C shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1/4-1/2 basil pesto
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste


  1. In a small saucepan, heat milk on low until just warmed.  Remove from heat, add yeast and let stand for 10 minutes.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, gently add milk and yeast mixture.  Then add honey/sugar, eggs, butter and 3 1/2 C of flour.  Give it a few rounds on low until things are generally combined.  Add-in salt.  Switch to dough hook and combine on low to medium speed until dough forms (4 to 5 minutes).  If dough is super sticky, add-in remaining 1/2 C flour a couple of tablespoons at a time.
  3. Grease a large bowl with olive oil.  Turn dough into the bowl, shaping into a ball allowing entire surface to be coated in olive oil.  Wrap bowl in with plastic and allow to rise in a warm, dry place (I used the laundry room) about an hour or until the dough has doubled in size.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9X13 inch baking pan with parchment.
  5. Lightly dust work surface with flour.  Turn-out dough and roll into a 10X16 inch rectangle.  Spread a thin, even layer of pesto over surface. Top with even layer of cheese.  Finish with freshly ground pepper to taste.
  6. Starting with the long edge of the dough, roll dough carefully into a log keeping the roll as tight as possible.  When you reach the edge, gently pinch into dough.
  7. Using a sharp knife, cut into twelve piece (cut dough in half, each half into thirds and each remaining piece in half).
  8. Place rolls, spiral side-up into prepared pan (I like three rows of four). Cover pan with plastic wrap and allow to rest and rise for 30 minutes.
  9. Bake the rolls for 20-25 minutes or until the cheese is bubbling.  Serve warm.


Fun with the beast of yeast

Last week’s peanut butter and chocolate treats were so easy I felt the need to make up for it.  While my experience with yeasted doughs lies in the advanced beginner range, I find making bread deeply satisfying.

We spent a couple of weeks on breads in the course I took last summer and, with the exception of the supremely sticky brioche, the instructor insisted we hand kneed everything.  She wasn’t masochistic or even particularly old-school.  From a technique perspective, she thought being able to “feel” the dough was important.

So for this recipe, I left my Kitchenad and dough hook in the pantry and went hands on.  It didn’t hurt that with new quartz countertops I could actually work directly on the surface.

After 10 minutes or so, my arms were burning and I admit, I was sweating.  But I had dough.

Studded with raisins and walnuts, the dough nearly doubled during its first proof.

It then was divided, rolled into rectangles, sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar, rolled and left to proof again.


Because you can never have too much spiced sugar, a hearty layer went on top right out of the oven to create a crackly crust.

I found this cinnamon, crunchy, raisin, walnutty treat a challenge to have around the house and was grateful I had the good sense to freeze the second loaf as soon as it cooled.

Cinnamon Swirl Raisin Walnut  Bread

from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, Peter Reinhart


  • 3 1/2 C, 16 ounces unbleached bread flour
  • 4 tsp, .66 ounce granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 tsp, .30 ounces salt
  • 2 tsp, .22 ounces instant yeast
  • 1 1/4 tsp, .16 ounces ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 tsp, .16 ounces ground cinnamon
  • 1 large egg, beaten slightly
  • 2 TBs, 1 ounce butter, melted
  • 1/2 C, 4 ounces buttermilk or whole milk at room temp (I used buttermilk)
  • 3/4 C, 6 ounces water at room temp
  • 1 1/2 C, 9 ounces raisins
  • 1 C, 4 ounces chopped walnuts
  • 1 large egg, beaten slightly
  • 2 TBs, 1 ounce butter, melted
  • 1/2 C, 4 ounces buttermilk or whole milk at room temp (I used buttermilk)
  • 3/4 C, 6 ounces water at room temp
  • 1 1/2 C, 9 ounces raisins
  • 1 C, 4 ounces chopped walnuts

If doing cinnamon swirl

  • 1/2 C granulated sugar
  • 2 TBs ground cinnamon
  • 2 TBS butter (keep it in stick form for easier spreading)


  1. Stir together flour, sugar, salt, yeast and cinnamon in a mixing bowl.
  2. Add the egg, butter, buttermilk and water.  Stir together with a large spoon until the ingredients come together and form a ball.  Adjust with flour or water if the dough seems too sticky or too dry and stiff.
  3. Sprinkle flour on a work surface and transfer the dough to the counter.  Begin kneading.  The dough should be soft but pliable and tacky but not sticky.  Add flour as you knead if necessary to achieve this texture.  Knead by hand for approximately 10 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle with walnuts and raisins for the last two minutes.  To know if the dough is ready, apply the windowpane test.  To do this, flour your fingers and pinch off about a 1/8 C of dough.  Using both hands, stretch the dough.  If you can stretch it enough to see through the dough without it breaking, you are good to go. If not, keep kneading.
  5. Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to it, rolling it to coat entire ball of dough in oil.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it proof for about 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size.
  6. For swirl, mix together sugar an cinnamon.
  7. Divide the dough into two equal pieces.  Roll each dough half into a 8X5 inch rectangle, about 1/3 inch thick.
  8. Sprinkle each half with 1/4 of the sugar mixture.
  9. Starting with the long edge, roll dough up into a tight roll, pinch the ends closed.
  10. Place each loaf into a lightly oiled 8.5X4.5 inch pan.  Mist the tops with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap.
  11. Proof at room temp for 60-90 minutes or until the dough crests the lip of the pan and is nearly double in size.
  12. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Place oven rack in the middle of the oven.
  13. Place loaf pans on a sheet pans making sure they are not touching each other.
  14. Bake for 20 minutes, rotate pans 180 degrees for even baking and the bake for another 20-30 minutes.  The finished bread should register 190 degrees in the center and be golden brown on the top and lightly golden on sides and bottom.  The loaves should make a hollow sounds when thumped on the bottom.
  15. Immediately remove the breads from their pans.
  16. Rub 1 TBS butter over the top of each loaf and then sprinkle with remaining sugar and cinnamon.  As the bread cools this will become a crust.
  17. Allow to cool for at least one hour before cutting and serving.



Portuguese (or if you live on the West Coast, Hawaiian) Sweet Bread

Yes, I know it isn’t Thursday.  But, we missed the first Thursday of the month so I’m making up for lost time.  Consider this Saturday school.

One of my goals for the new year is to work my way through Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice.  While I bought this book last summer, it sat on the shelf for a couple of months until I was reminded of its genius for last month’s Daring Bakers’ Stollen Challenge.

I don’t have much experience with bread.  But, I like to learn new things. It will just be you, me and a whole lot of yeast.

Because starting at the beginning is just so predictable, my first Peter Reinhart recipe comes from about 3/4 of the way through the book.  If you live near, have traveled on or have ever been within sniffing distance of the 405 freeway, you are most likely well-versed in the delicacy known as King’s Hawaiian Bread.  This eggy, slightly citrusy bread is fairly irresistible.  It’s fantastic with sandwiches, as french toast or as an addition (in roll form) to any celebration from summer BBQs to Thanksgiving dinner.

While plowing through the Bread Baker’s Apprentice, I was delighted to learn that what I know as Hawaiian bread really originated as Portuguese sweet bread.  I was also delighted that this bread would serve as my introduction to sponge.

Sponge is a wet pre-ferment, or levain levure en Francais.  The purposes are multiple but, if we are going for parsimony in description, a pre-ferment basically makes the final product taste better through all kinds of magic that happen between the yeast and flour.

In this recipe, the pre-ferment is quick, only a couple of hours.  It begins by mixing flour, sugar, yeast and some water into something that looks a lot like pancake batter.

You let it rest for an hour or two and the mixture rises and takes on some…wait for it…spongey qualities.

When all seems on the verge of collapse, it’s time to get boogying.  In a separate bowl, sugar and the fats are creamed together.

And then some eggs are added.  Once the eggs are beaten in, it’s sponge time.

To the now sponged-dough, flour and water are mixed in to create a soft dough.

Several minutes with a dough hook later and a lovely smooth dough results.

The dough is formed into a ball and left to rest in an oiled bowl for a couple of hours until it doubles in size.

Then it goes into a pie tin (starting to look familiar isn’t it?) for another nap.

Once the dough reaches the sides of the tin, it’s ready to go into the oven after an egg wash.  Because of the high sugar content, the crust of the resulting bread is dark brown and gorgeous.

And now comes the hard part.  It’s important to wait at least two hours before cutting the bread.  But, it’s worth it.  Soft, and sweet with a tender crust, this bread makes me wish I was Portuguese, or Hawaiian just so I could stake just a little heritage claim.

Portuguese Sweet Bread

The Bread Baker’s Apprentice

Peter Reinhart, 2001

Makes 2 round loaves

Note: I used the weighted measurements


  • .5 C (2.25 oz) unbleached bread flour
  • 1 T (.5 oz) granulated sugar
  • 2.25 t (.25 oz) instant yeast
  • .5 C (4 oz) water, room temp


  • 6 T (3 oz) granulated sugar
  • 1 t (.25 oz) salt
  • .25 C (1.25 oz) powdered milk (DMS)
  • 2 T (1 oz) unsalted butter, room temp.
  • 2 T (1 oz) vegetable shortening
  • 2 large eggs (3.3 oz)
  • 1 t  (.17 oz) lemon extract
  • 1 t  (.17 oz) orange extract
  • 1 t  (.17 oz) vanilla
  • 3 C  (13.5 oz) unbleached bread flour
  • about 6 T (3 oz) water, room temp.

To make sponge

Stir together flour, sugar and yeast in a small bowl.  Add the water and stir until all ingredients are mixed into a smooth batter.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and ferment at room temp. for 60-90 minutes or until the sponge is foamy and on the verge of collapse.

To make dough

Combine the sugar, salt, powdered milk and fats into a 4-quart mixing bowl (or bowl of a standing mixer).  Cream together until smooth then add in eggs and extracts.  Switch to a dough hook or knead by hand and mix in sponge and flour, adding in water as needed to make a soft dough.  The dough will be very supple and easy to knead and not wet or sticky.  It will take 10-12 minutes with electric mixer or 15 minutes by hand.  Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer dough to bowl, rolling it to coat in oil.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let proof for two hours, until the dough doubles in size.

Remove the dough from the bowl and cut into two pieces.  Form each of the pieces into a boule (ball).  Lightly oil two 9-inch pie tins and place one boule, seam-side down in each.  Mist dough with oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap.  Proof dough two to three hours or until the dough fills the pans.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, placing racks in center of the oven.

Gently brush boules with egg wash.

Bake the loaves for 50-60 minutes rotating 180 degrees halfway through for more even baking.  The dough will brown very quickly and get darker as the center gradually catches up with the outside.  Remove from tins and place on a rack to cool at least 90 minutes before slicing.

Christmas Stollen: my first Daring Bakers’ challenge

December was my Daring Bakers’ maiden voyage.  Yes, there was champagne and confetti (though this is the way it always is around my house, so, the part about it being my first challenge was just a coincidence).

The Daring Kitchen is an online community of bloggers who “get together” each month and make a challenging baked good.  It’s very cloak and dagger.  Even though we get the recipe at the beginning of the month, it’s all hush hush until the reveal day when everyone presents the challenge via their blog.

The 2010 December Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Penny of Sweet Sadie’s Baking.  She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make Stollen.  She adapted a friend’s family recipe and combined it with information from friends, techniques from Peter Reinhart’s book and Martha Stewart’s demonstration.

My first thought when the challenge was unveiled was, “kowabunga dude!”  My second: wait…stollen?  What is stollen?  And now I’v revealed that I don’t have a German bone in my body.

Stollen is sort of a fruity desserty holiday bread.  Yes, it’s a bread.

Okay fine. It’s fruit cake.  But not the nasty kind.

The yeast-based dough is slightly sweet, filled with fruit, candied citrus peel, slivered almonds and often, marzipan. And, as soon as I got to the citrus zest on the ingredients list, I was a convert.

Citrus zest and spices are added to a basic egg-based yeast dough recipe.

Then the real fun begins.  What goes in to one’s stollen is quite personal.  A quick peek into my pantry revealed that I happened to have dried cranberries and cherries on hand.  I re-hydrated these in some orange juice.  They were then joined by some candied orange peel I’d made the day before and slivered almonds.

Some time with the dough hook and my little bun was ready to proof over night in the fridge.

A day of grading BUAD-495 final papers and a visit to the dentist later, my dough and I were ready to get boogying.  Out of the fridge and another two hours of proofing yielded an impressive and insanely good-smelling bowl of dough.

Traditional stollen is made in loaf form (it is supposed to look like a swaddled baby Jesus).  However, those Daring Bakers’ are a little on the fancy side, so this recipe had the dough going the distance in the form of a wreath.  After a good-natured punching down, the dough was rolled thin.

And I added a rope of homemade marzipan.  I’m not including a link for the marzipan yet because I’m not entirely confident that I’ve mastered the recipe. More to come on my meanderings with marzipan.

Next, my dough and marzipan got tolled up into a big, fat, heavy log.

To get the log into wreath shape, I lined a baking sheet with parchment and placed a heat-proof bowl in the center. Then, I wrapped the dough log around the bowl, pinching the ends together.  This was followed by some snips to further articulate the wreath-shape.

Some more proofing commenced and then, into the oven until the dough was dark-golden.

But, we’re not done yet.  While still hot, I slathered the bread with alternating layers of melted butter and powdered sugar to form a sort of icing/preserver.  Speaking of preservers, the wreath was easily large enough to be utilized as a life preserver.


I wrapped-up the cooled wreath and let it cure for a couple of days (this was very, very difficult to do).  After the 48-hour waiting period, we had arrived at the moment of truth.

If loving fruitcake is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

TD said it tasted like raisin bread.  However, most raisin bread isn’t  blanketed in a layer of crunchy yet tender icing.  This is not a light bread.  It is an eat a couple of pieces and then climb the Matterhorn sort of bread.  But with some patience, it was really fun to make.  A perfect first challenge for this virgin Daring Baker!


Daring Bakers’ Challenge


  • ¼ cup (60ml) lukewarm water (110º F / 43º C)
  • 2 packages (4 1/2 teaspoons) (22 ml) (14 grams) (1/2 oz) active dry yeast
  • 1 cup (240 ml) milk
  • 10 tablespoons (150 ml) (140 grams) unsalted butter (can use salted butter)
  • 5½ cups (1320 ml) (27 ozs) (770 grams) all-purpose (plain) flour (Measure flour first – then sift- plus extra for dusting)
  • ½ cup (120 ml) (115 gms) sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon (3 ¾ ml) (4 ½ grams) salt (if using salted butter there is no need to alter this salt measurement)
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 grams) cinnamon
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) (very good) vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) lemon extract or orange extract
  • ¾ cup (180 ml) (4 ¾ ozs) (135 grams) mixed peel (link below to make your own)
  • 1 cup (240 ml) (6 ozs) (170 gms) firmly packed raisins
  • 3 tablespoons (45ml) rum
  • 12 red glacé cherries (roughly chopped) for the color and the taste. (optional)
  • 1 cup (240 ml) (3 ½ ozs) (100 grams) flaked almonds
  • Melted unsalted butter for coating the wreath
  • Confectioners’ (icing) (powdered) sugar for dusting wreath


Soak the raisins
In a small bowl, soak the raisins in the rum (or in the orange juice from the zested orange) and set aside. See Note under raisins.

To make the dough

Pour ¼ cup (60 ml) warm water into a small bowl, sprinkle with yeast and let stand 5 minutes. Stir to dissolve yeast completely.

In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup (240 ml) milk and 10 tablespoons (150 ml) butter over medium – low heat until butter is melted. Let stand until lukewarm, about 5 minutes.

Lightly beat eggs in a small bowl and add lemon and vanilla extracts.

In a large mixing bowl (4 qt) (4 liters) (or in the bowl of an electric mixer with paddle attachment), stir together the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, orange and lemon zests.

Then stir in (or mix on low speed with the paddle attachment) the yeast/water mixture, eggs and the lukewarm milk/butter mixture. This should take about 2 minutes. It should be a soft, but not sticky ball. When the dough comes together, cover the bowl with either plastic or a tea cloth and let rest for 10 minutes.

Add in the mixed peel, soaked fruit and almonds and mix with your hands or on low speed to incorporate. Here is where you can add the cherries if you would like. Be delicate with the cherries or all your dough will turn red!

Sprinkle flour on the counter, transfer the dough to the counter, and begin kneading (or mixing with the dough hook) to distribute the fruit evenly, adding additional flour if needed. The dough should be soft and satiny, tacky but not sticky. Knead for approximately 8 minutes (6 minutes by machine). The full six minutes of kneading is needed to distribute the dried fruit and other ingredients and to make the dough have a reasonable bread-dough consistency. You can tell when the dough is kneaded enough – a few raisins will start to fall off the dough onto the counter because at the beginning of the kneading process the dough is very sticky and the raisins will be held into the dough but when the dough is done it is tacky which isn’t enough to bind the outside raisins onto the dough ball.

Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling around to coat it with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
Put it in the fridge overnight. The dough becomes very firm in the fridge (since the butter goes firm) but it does rise slowly… the raw dough can be kept in the refrigerator up to a week and then baked on the day you want.

Shaping the Dough and Baking the Wreath

1. Let the dough rest for 2 hours after taking out of the fridge in order to warm slightly.
2. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
3. Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4 with the oven rack on the middle shelf.
4. Punch dough down, roll into a rectangle about 16 x 24 inches (40 x 61 cms) and ¼ inch (6 mm) thick.

Starting with a long side, roll up tightly, forming a long, thin cylinder.  Transfer the cylinder roll to the sheet pan. Join the ends together, trying to overlap the layers to make the seam stronger and pinch with your fingers to make it stick, forming a large circle. You can form it around a bowl to keep the shape.  Using kitchen scissors, make cuts along outside of circle, in 2-inch (5 cm) intervals, cutting 2/3 of the way through the dough. Twist each segment outward, forming a wreath shape. Mist the dough with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap.

Proof for approximately 2 hours at room temperature, or until about 1½ times its original size.
Bake the stollen for 20 minutes, then rotate the pan 180 degrees for even baking and continue to bake for 20 to 30 minutes. The bread will bake to a dark mahogany color, should register 190°F/88°C in the center of the loaf, and should sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.

Transfer to a cooling rack and brush the top with melted butter while still hot.
Immediately tap a layer of powdered sugar over the top through a sieve or sifter.
Wait for 1 minute, then tap another layer over the first.
The bread should be coated generously with the powdered sugar.
Let cool at least an hour before serving. Coat the stollen in butter and icing sugar three times, since this many coatings helps keeps the stollen fresh – especially if you intend on sending it in the mail as Christmas presents!

When completely cool, store in a plastic bag. Or leave it out uncovered overnight to dry out slightly, German style.

The more rum and the more coatings of butter and sugar you use the longer it will store.
The following is for the recipe as written and uses the 45 mls of rum and two coatings of butter and icing sugar
1. Stollen freezes beautifully about 4 months
2. The baked stollen stores well for 2 weeks covered in foil and plastic wrap on the counter at room temperature and
3. One month in the refrigerator well covered with foil and plastic wrap.