Monday, June 20, 2011

Lemon Verbena Cinnamon Rolls

Making cinnamon rolls when the temperature is getting close to 100 degrees probably wasn't the smartest idea I ever had. Because of the heat, the dough was sticky, the filling melted, and I had a really hard time getting the log to hold together. I've never lived somewhere this hot before, so I had no idea how the heat could effect baking. I mean, it makes sense but I never had experienced it firsthand until last night.

I made these rolls because of Cook the Books and the book Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen. I'm not going to lie, this book wasn't something I would have picked up on my own. The magical aspect of it just isn't something I typically get into. But really, things like this, like Cook the Books, force me to read things I wouldn't otherwise read.

And to quote my goodreads account:

I read this book for a foodie event called Cook The Books. Basically, the gist is you read a book and make a recipe inspired by the book, blog about it, take a picture of it, post it, etc. This isn't a book I would have picked up on my own, as the genre isn't typically what I'm interested in.

There was obviously much mention of food in the dish, with one of the main characters making magic in her kitchen through her meals. The main characters are notorious in their town for being part of a rather eccentric family.

The characters in the book are drawn out pretty well. The storyline is easy to follow. The mentions of food make me drool.

I am giving it a 3 not because it's not a good book, it really is, but because I still probably wouldn't read it or anything like it again as it's just not the type of book I usually gravitate towards.

What I did like about the book though was all the delicious food references. The book included a lot of references to different floral and spices to use in cooking. I've never really experimented with either of those, so it seemed like a good opportunity. So I mixed lemon verbena and cinnamon rolls.

Why the two?

"Claire stayed up late to make her regular order of six dozen cinnamon buns, which she delivered early to the Coffee House on the square every Sunday morning."

From what I know about Claire, she didn't just make cinnamon rolls. There was something more to them, just like there was something more to mine:

"Lemon Verbena – produces a lull in conversation with a mysterious lack of awkwardness. Helpful when you have nervous, overly talkative guests. "

Lemon Verbena Cinnamon Rolls


4 1/2 cups flour
1 package active dry yeast
1 cup skim milk
1 tbsp dried lemon verbena + a pinch
1/3 cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3 large eggs

3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 tbsp half and half

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tbsp half and half
1 tbsp lemon juice


1. In the bowl of your electric mixer combine 2 1/2 cups flour and the yeast.

2. Fill a tea ball with the dried lemon verbena. Place in the milk and let sit for about 10 minutes. In a small saucepan combine the milk, sugar, butter, and salt. Heat, stirring constantly, until the butter is melted.

3. Gradually pour the milk mixture into the flour, beating slowly and consistently. Add eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl with each addition. Replace the paddle with the dough hook and knead in the rest of the flour until the dough is smooth and elastic. Add a pinch of the lemon verbena.

4. Shape into a ball and place in a greased bowl. Cover with a towel and put in a warm spot for an hour and a half, until the dough doubles in size.

5. Punch down. Place on a lightly floured surface and let sit for 10 minutes. During those 10 minutes combine the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and the butter. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients to get a granulated crumble.

6. On the lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a 12-inch circle. Sprinkle with the filling. Roll the dough into a log. Slice the log into 8 pieces and place in a greased baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 45 minutes.

7. Brush the dough with 1 tbsp half and half. Bake for 25 minutes, until lightly brown. Brush with more half and half.

8. To make the glaze combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Drip over the cinnamon rolls.


  1. These sound terrific. Thanks for joining in the fun at Cook the Books this round!

  2. I'd probably make this (up to the point of resting 45 min.) the night before and refrigerate til morning. It's just too hot for baking. Did the lemon verbena taste come through?

  3. Welcome to CTB. What a fabulous treat. I adore cinnamon buns, but the lemon verbena puts these over the top.

  4. YUM! These sound awesome :) I, too, am new to CTB but am so excited to continue participating! I also can't wait to make your cinnamon buns (one of my favorite guilty pleasures)!

  5. From one CTB newbie to another: awesomely done! I ♥♥♥ lemon verbena and would have never thought of mixing it with cinnamon rolls. I am definitely bookmarking this for when the weather gets a bit cooler. The photo just made my mouth water.

    Maria @ A Platter of Figs

  6. I'm not familiar with lemon verbena...but I know cinnamon and lemon will play nicely together, so congrats on a happy twist! Welcome to CTB...hope you keep reading and cooking with us!

  7. Rachel: It was fun! I'll definitely be back!

    Claudia: I wish I had thought of that. It didn't even occur to me until the dough was melting on me that the weather was absolutely not conducive to making cinnamon rolls.

    Arlene: They definitely were quite the treat!

    DaniD: Yay! Us newbies for CTB. I'm going to stick around too :)

    Maria: It was the first time I'd had lemon verbena, prior to making these rolls and because of the book. It definitely is a spice I'd like to play with more. Does anyone have any suggestions on what to do with it?

    Can't Believe: Thank you and I plan to stick around!

  8. So glad you joined us at CTB with your mouthwatering cinnamon rolls...a total weakness of mine, no matter the variation.

  9. I planted lemon verbena once because I wanted to make ice cream with it. I wish I remember where I saw the recipe (Gourmet, maybe). Anyway, I never got to that stage because the plant did not like the place where I put it. I would like to try again. It sounds like this was a learning experience. I hope you'll make the rolls again: they look very nice.

  10. Glad you joined CTB. I would never have thought of putting herbs in cinnamon rolls. Cudos to you.

  11. Woot! Here's to lemon verbena--my favorite. ;-) I love the idea of adding it to cinnamon rolls.

    So glad you joined in and I hope you join in again this next round that I am hosting with "A Homemade Life" by Molly Wizenburg.