Makes 30 Rolls
July 4 was an important date in our Italian-American household, not only because of US independence but because the day signaled our annual summer event - picking cherries. My parents packed us into the car and off we went, bemoaning the task that lay ahead. We picked bushels of the ruby red fruit, some to give to relatives, a lot to preserve in canning jars or dry, and some to eat.
At Christmastime my mother used the dried fruit to make her cherry cookies, which I would snitch from wherever they were hidden. Their tart-sweet flavor made my lips pucker, yet I crave those cookies every year. I also crave these sweet rolls, which I serve for breakfast on Christmas morning. Dried cherries are readily available, though a bit on the expensive side.
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup dried tart red cherries, diced
2/3 cup nonfat dry milk
1 1/3 cups warm water (110º to 115ºF.)
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
4 1/2 tablespoons butter or margarine, at room temperature
1 large egg plus 2 large egg whites
5 to 5 1/2 cups King Arthur™ Unbleached, All-Purpose Flour
1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
4 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Place the dry milk in a large bowl and add the warm water. Stir to dissolve. Sprinkle the yeast over the milk, add the teaspoon of granulated sugar, and stir to dissolve. Let the mixture proof for 10 minutes, covered.
Add 2 1/2 tablespoons of the butter or margarine, the egg and egg whites, and remaining granulated sugar to the mixture and whisk until well blended. Add the flour gradually, until a ball of dough is obtained that is not sticky. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth, about 10 to 12 minutes. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Grease two 15- by 11-inch baking sheets.
Mix the sugar and cinnamon together for the filling and set aside.
Punch the dough down and divide in half. Knead each half until smooth, about 5 minutes. Roll 1 piece on a floured surface into a 16-inch circle. Brush the dough with 1 tablespoon of the remaining butter. Sprinkle on half the sugar and cinnamon, and then half the cherries. Roll the dough up from the widest side into a tight jelly roll. Cut the roll into fifteen 1-inch slices and place them on baking sheet, spacing them close together. Repeat for the second piece. Let rise, covered, for 15 minutes.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until nicely browned. Let the rolls cool until warm on a cookie rack.
In a small bowl, mix the confectioner's sugar with the milk and almond extract until smooth. Drizzle a little of the glaze over the tops of the rolls. Serve warm.
Note: These can be frozen unglazed.
This recipe is from NELLA CUCINA by Mary Ann Esposito, published by William Morrow and Company Inc., in 1993.
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