Friday Indian Spiced Rolls

melting pot adventures in food

Since I am a big fan of cooking and being in the kitchen, I am generally not the type of person you’ll find looking for ways to make every recipe shorter or less labor intensive. I like working in the kitchen, so I am, unfortunately, more inclined to want to try out a ridiculously elaborate recipe than I am inclined to run away from one.

There are, of course, exceptions to every rule, and this trait of mine is by no means immune to that general truism. My general downfall when it comes to wanting something straight away, fresh from the kitchen? Sweets. That’s right. When I want a baked good, I want it NOW.

This is generally not a problem when I am craving a cookie or a muffin, but Danish pastries and rolls provide a bit of a problem. Fresh pastries, warm and inviting, are like a siren song to me, but I am often driven to despair by having to wait all day long to produce some fine and tasty pastries, on account of the necessity of waiting for a yeasted dough to rise, get punched down, shaped, rise again, etc. I’ve often thought that there must be a faster, more efficient way to hammer out fresh pastry in under an hour, and, after a bit of perusing my cookbook shelves, it turns out there is.

America’s Test Kitchen saves the day on this one, with a fantastic recipe for no-yeast cinnamon rolls that emerge from the oven as rich and delicious as any standard cinnamon roll that takes several hours longer to produce. I changed some of the proportions of the ingredients, altering them to my current tastes (lately I’ve been desiring my sweets to be a bit less sweet, so I tend to dial back the sugar of every recipe I see) and swapping out plain old cinnamon for a mix of enticing Indian spices, but the genius of the method is all due to ATK.

With this great recipe, you can have soft, fresh, delicious sweet rolls on your plate in fewer than 60 minutes. I hate to admit it, but this recipe might just be the key to making me less patient in the kitchen. Will I ever again enslave myself to the labor of rolling butter into a yeasted dough sponge, then turning and folding for an entire day, just to perfume my kitchen with the magic of fresh pastries? Perhaps. I may have to think about it, though. I’ll get back to you in an hour, after I’ve pulled these rolls from the oven and am sitting down to have a bit of a snack while I think things through.

Indian-Spiced Sweet Rolls

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Adjust an oven rack to the upper-middle position. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with a layer of foil that fits all the way across one way, then layer another sheet of foil on top of the first. You want to make a foil sling that will allow the rolls to be removed from the pan with minimal fuss. Spray the prepared foil sling with vegetable oil spray.


1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoons ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
pinch of salt


2 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups buttermilk or sour milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly


3 tablespoons cream cheese
¾ cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk
pinch of ground ginger
pinch of cardamom
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of salt

Prepare the filling by mixing all of the ingredients together in a small bowl. Set aside.

Prepare the dough by whisking the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and two tablespoons of the melted butter. Slowly stir the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture until the dough comes together and looks quite shaggy, about 30 seconds. Turn dough out onto a well-floured counter and knead for 30 seconds or so, until the dough has just become smooth and pliable (do not overwork the dough, as it will become quite tough).

Shape the dough into a 12” x 9” rectangle, long side facing you. Brush the dough with the remaining one tablespoon of melted butter, then sprinkle the filling mixture over it, leaving a ½-inch border along the top edge. Gently press the filling into the dough to make it stick a bit better.

Using a bench scraper or metal spatula, gently loosen the dough from the counter. Rolling lengthwise, roll the dough away from you into a tight log. Pinch the seam down and roll the log seam side down. Using a serrated knife, slice the log into 9 evenly sized rolls. Ever-so-slightly flatten each piece of dough to seal the open edges and keep the filling in place.

Arrange the rolls cut side down in the prepared baking pan. Tightly cover the pan with foil and bake for 12 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and bake for an additional 12 to 14 minutes, until the edges of the rolls are golden brown. Do not over bake, as the rolls can dry out fairly quickly.

Flip the rolls out onto a wire rack set over a sheet of parchment paper or foil (for easy cleanup). Remove the foil sling and allow rolls to cool for 5 to 10 minutes before frosting.

To prepare the frosting, whisk together the cream cheese, powdered sugar, milk, spices, and salt. Flip the rolls upright, then frost generously.

About the contributor:

Elizabeth Miller is a freelance writer who runs Savory Salty Sweet, a food and kitchen appreciation website. She also writes the Melting Pot column here on Indie Fixx, which appears bimonthly on Fridays. Read more about her on the contributors’ page.


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