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Paprika Sticky Rolls

For The Spice is Right #2: Sweet or Savory?, we were supposed to choose a spice used primarily in sweet or in savory applications in our native culture, and then turn it around and use it in the other.

My mother’s side of the family is Hungarian, and so my life has been saturated with paprika. My grandmother and mother raised me on stuffed cabbage, stuffed peppers, chicken paprikash, goulash, &c. It was the obvious choice.

When I told my mother that I was planning on making a sweet dessert with paprika, she looked disgusted.

“Why would you want to do that?” she asked. “Make palacsinta instead. They don’t have to be for breakfast; they can be dessert, too.”

“Palacsinta paprikas?” I asked.

“No!” My mother has never forgiven me for the caramelized onion ice cream, I think. She’d rather I not experiment so much.

When Dave heard that I was planning on making a dessert with paprika, he suggested that I modify my cinnamon roll recipe and use paprika there instead. He and I finished half a tray of these paprika sticky rolls in one night. In my experience, sweet Hungarian paprika is used solely in savory concoctions, but its warmth and depth of flavor lent themselves beautifully to this variation on Peter Reinhart’s recipe for sticky cinnamon rolls from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. As my family would say, they are finom, finom! (delicious).

Paprika Sticky Rolls
For the dough
6 1/2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
5 1/2 tbsp butter (at room temperature)
1 large egg
1 tsp lemon extract, lemon zest, or vanilla extract
3 1/2 C all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/4 C whole milk or buttermilk (at room temperature)
For the caramel glaze
1/2 C granulated sugar
1/2 C brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 C butter (at room temperature)
1/2 C corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
For the filling
6 1/2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 1/2 tbsp sweet Hungarian paprika

Make the dough:

Cream together the butter, sugar, and salt. Whip in the egg and lemon or vanilla extract until smooth. Mix in the flour, yeast, and milk, and stir until the dough starts to form a ball. Knead for 10-15 minutes, until the dough is supple, tacky but not sticky. Reinhart says that at this point the temperature in the middle of the dough should be somewhere around 77°-81°, though I didn’t actually bother to check that.

Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, flipping it around to cover it entirely with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave it to rise for about two hours, or until it doubles (or even triples!) in size.

Form the rolls:

Spray oil over your work surface (I used wax paper laid out over my counter), and sprinkle flour atop the dough so that the rolling pin won’t stick. Roll out the dough to a 12″x14″ rectangle. It should be about 2/3″ thick; you don’t want to roll the dough out to thin, lest your rolls be insufficiently puffy and soft. Sprinkle the paprika/sugar filling evenly over the top of the dough.

Roll up the dough the long way, until you have a log with a spiral of filling inside it, seam side down. Cut it into 12 even pieces.

Make the caramel glaze:

Cream together the butter, both sugars, and salt. Add the corn syrup and vanilla, and continue to cream together until light and fluffy. Spread the resulting glaze across the bottom of your pan. It should be about 1/4″ deep, but really, just spread all of it so that it evenly covers the entire bottom of the pan and it will work out just fine.

Set-up and second rising:

Lay the rolls out on the caramel, cut side down. Try to space them about 1/2″ inch apart, if possible. Spray a bit more oil across the top of the dough, and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let it rise for about 75-90 minutes, or until doubled in size again.

End stages:

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Remove the plastic wrap. (Obviously.) Place the pan on the lowest rack in your oven, and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until golden brown. You want to make sure the caramel glaze has actually caramelized, so be sure not to pull it out of the oven too soon. Listen for bubbling when you check in on it.

Let it cool for 5-10 minutes, then flip the rolls out onto another pan. Scoop up any of the dripped off glaze and pour it back on top of the rolls. Wait 20 minutes before serving.

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15 Responses to “Paprika Sticky Rolls”

  1. Ivonne says:

    Well they look Finom Finom! Well done!!!

    Interesting but I’d never thought of using sweet paprika for a sweet dish. Great idea!

  2. Rose Fox says:

    Now you have me wondering what on earth my native culture is, and whether there’s any spice that is used only for sweet or only for savory. I can’t think of one.

  3. this sounds seriously fantastic!!! i definitely want to try this idea!

  4. Lisa says:

    Damn, everything you make looks so wonderful!

  5. suzun says:

    yay for joining the coop! i also appreciate the manual labor
    as you do. i work in food processing and it is one of the
    most relaxing things i do all month. yet i still dread going -
    i need to get over that.

    i am always a little bit scared of savory-as-sweet! everything
    i’ve tried to date has been good (except for indian sweets
    which are too sweet, even for me) but every step i take is a
    scary one. basil – awesome. olive oil ice cream – fine.
    paprika – woah.

    good job! they look beautiful.

  6. bron says:

    These sounds so paprika perfect, I love paprika!

  7. Danielle says:

    Ivonne – Neither had I, until the event was announced. This is why I like food blogging; the events are so inspiring!

    Rose – Well, I wouldn’t precisely call Hungarian my native culture, either. It’s part of it, one of them, but that’s all.

    roaring belly, Lisa, bron – Thanks!

    suzun – Olive oil ice cream sounds fascinating! I tried a chocolate olive oil drink at Room4Dessert that was surprisingly good, and then learned that bread with molten chocolate, salt, and olive oil is amazing. Dave and I were talking, and he suggested soy sauce as one thing we could not use in a dessert, but now I’m trying to brainstorm a way to disprove him.

  8. another brilliant idea! I would never ever ever have thought of that. I really have never heard of papaprika in a sweet dish. I have some very rich smoked paprkia which I definitely would not use for this but regular paprika could be good.

    My Life As A Reluctant Housewife

  9. Danielle says:

    Gabriella – I think paprika would be really good in chocolate desserts, too. Paprika Chocolate Mousse, maybe? Or ice cream. Or in baked apples or apple pie.

  10. ejm says:

    I’m with the others on this. I would never have thought of using paprika in sweet buns either AND it sounds like a great idea.

  11. linda says:

    Great idea! And they look great too!

  12. Tanna says:

    Finom, finom! They would have to be looking so beautiful. I’ve never been
    disappointed with Reinhart’s recipes; he always seems a little fussy when I read
    them but they’re so wonderful out of the oven.
    I’ve only recently discovered smoking paprika but now I’ll always have to keep a
    supply of regular for these sticky buns. Savory in sweet always seems so thrilling
    to me. Great idea! Thanks many.

  13. Susan says:

    A couple weekends ago, I was asked at the last minute if I could bring cinnamon rolls along to a get-together. I was forced by time to either pick some up, or to cheat and use frozen ones, so I opted for the latter. I’m not wild about rolls drizzled with confectioner’s sugar-type glaze, so looked online for a good “sticky bun” treatment. I found the caramel glaze from this recipe, and it worked great! I had to “pre-cook” it a bit since the rolls were designed to bake faster than the time needed to caramelize it, but with a little tweaking, it came out better than I might’ve expected! Am anxious to try the full-fledged recipe — with paprika! — sometime soon. Thanks!

  14. Danielle says:

    ejm, linda, Tanna – Thank you!

    Susan – This comment was such a pleasure to receive. Thank you. I’m really glad the glaze worked out well for you, and I hope you enjoy the full recipe as well when you give it a try.

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