Not-Cinnamon Rolls

Nate suggested that I should try to put something other than sweet things in cinnamon rolls - since we've tried jam and chocolate, why not herbs and butter, or cheese and tomatoes?
These were the result.
I didn't actually fill them with cheese, though I might try that sometime. I sprinkled some grated cheddar on top of half, just to see how that might be. After all, every cinnamon roll needs a topping.
So that they wouldn't taste like an unhappy accident in the fridge, I left out the sugar and added in two teaspoons of dried basil. Instead of a half-cup of melted butter, I put in a half-cup of olive oil. I don't know if it had any effect in the end, but I also stirred the basil into the oil and let it sit for a half hour or so before mixing everything together.
Since they weren't going to be sweet, I let the dough sit out overnight, and in the end it sat for almost 24 hours - giving my sourdough starter some time to develop more of the sour than usual. The plastic wrap luckily was strong enough to contain this beast I created, which was trying very hard to fight its way out of the bowl and to freedom on the table and floor. I didn't think to get a photo of it, unfortunately. Maybe next time I will.
Just butter didn't seem silly enough, so I mushed some garlic into melted butter and let that sit for a while, then spread that over the rolled-out dough. Because I was curious, I made half just with garlic butter as a filling. The other half got sun-dried tomatoes and scallions in addition to the garlic butter. I'm not sure if there is a good way to cut up sun-dried tomatoes, the ones I had weren't terribly cooperative when I tried to use a knife (though that could be me, too!), so I used scissors to cut them into thin strips, and then chopped those a little bit (which worked at that point, maybe they were small enough - and I wasn't looking for consistency or perfection, just a few smaller pieces), which worked fairly well.
The scallions just happened to be in the fridge and I happen to like them with tomato salad (and many other things), so in they went!

Because I just talked about tomatoes, here are the ones without

The results were quite good - in terms of votes, it seems the tomato-scallion version disappeared a bit faster than the ones without, and the cheese-topped ones of both went before the ones without. The tomatoes added a bit of colour as well as fun texture bits, and their flavour went well with the sourness of the sourdough, the cheese was a pleasant crunchy distraction on top. The garlic butter worked well, but almost disappeared into the general dough from what I noticed. Perhaps that's where it will go from the start next time, straight into the dough in some form. We shall see. A lot of these things could have gone straight into the dough, and skipped the rolling, then topped off with the cheese, I suppose. But then how would we know they are not-cinnamon rolls?

So, here's the "recipe"
6 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups water
1 cup sourdough starter
2 teaspoons dried basil
1/2 cup olive oil

Garlic butter:
1/4 cup melted butter
2 cloves garlic
pinch of salt
Crush the garlic cloves and/or mince them, then mix them into the butter with the salt, and let the mixture sit til the butter solidifies. Two cloves is probably excessive by any standard, but I thought having little garlic bits all over the rolls might be interesting. Not sure they were really all that noticeable in the end, so adjust to your taste and time available.

I'm not sure exactly how many tomatoes I cut up in the end...perhaps a 1/3 cup, loosely measured, of dried tomato cut into slices? Note to self, putting things in measuring cups in between helps. "Looks about right" is hard to explain...Keep going til there is a pleasant amount of red all over the dough?
Same goes for the scallions, I think I sliced up three - which was all I had, but worked out pretty well.

Mix the basil and the oil, and let them sit for a half-hour or so. Mix the flour and salt, then add the starter and the basil-oil and a cup and half of water, add the rest depending on how your dough is behaving. Once it's mixed to a nice smooth ball (this could take a few minutes. Feel free to mix it til it's vaguely resembling a lumpy dough-mixture, walk away for five minutes, then go back and finish the mixing. It's probably done some of the work for you in the time that you were gone as the flour absorbs the liquids.), roll it in a lightly-oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let it sit for 12 hours, or overnight. If you want a sourer dough, let it sit longer to give the nice lactobacilli some extra time to have fun.
Whenever you decide the dough is ready, take it out of the bowl, divide it in two, and roll out each half on a lightly-floured surface. My dough was pretty sticky at this point, sometimes I don't bother throwing flour all over the table when the dough is firmer, but this time it turned out to be a good idea.
Then spread garlic butter and tomatoes and scallions over as much as you'd like, roll it up and cut it into roughly 12 pieces, which you put on your parchment-covered baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap, then let the rolls rise some more.
Repeat, and take a nap.
When you are done napping, take a look, if the rolls look like they have taken over most of the baking sheet, let them rise some more until they are close to touching each other, or put them in right away - depends on your preference and how hungry you are, really. If you want to add the cheese, now would be the time. Before putting them in the oven, that is.
Bake at 325°F on the upper rack (anything else and mine have delicious, crispy charred bottoms, though your oven might be more cooperative) for 20-30 minutes, til the bottoms are brown (if you really manage to pick up a hot roll to check) or the tops are lightly brown.
After that, take them out, cool them on a rack for a few minutes, and enjoy with tea.
Then imagine all the other possible variations we can still play with.


  1. I am imagining sliced cheddar and potato rolled into a non-Cinnamon roll


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