Lemon Sweet Rolls

This post is sponsored by Nielsen-Massey Vanillas.

Baking is not unusual around our house, but over the last couple of months, I've been drawn to slower bakes. Bakes that aren't hurried - that are meditative and calming. Not only do these lemon sweet rolls fit the bill for a calming, unhurried bake, they are altogether exquisite.

Getting the opportunity to partner with Nielsen-Massey is a bit of a dream. You all probably already know Nielsen-Massey Vanillas as producers of all-natural, allergen-free, gluten-free pure vanillas and flavors of the highest quality. I love that they're family owned as well.



This is the vanilla I used in the rolls - Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract. It has a sweet, creamy flavor with velvety after-tones. I love a velvety after-tone! (Find it on Amazon or select retailers - my grocery store carries it!)

I am completely smitten with theses lemon sweet rolls. They're fluffy and soft, lightly sweet, and kissed with vanilla and lemon. They're perfect for teatime, brunch, or just snacking. Full disclosure: I ate three for lunch today.

There's a reason we're all gravitating to our kitchens during these stressful times. (Can I just say how happy I am to see bread making its triumphant return?) Various studies from the American Psychological Association show that baking - from measuring to concentrating on smell and taste - can reduce anxiety. Yay! This psychology major is loving the connection between baking and alleviating anxiety.

To help home bakers take advantage of the benefits of baking, Nielsen-Massey is continuing its "Better Your Bake" campaign which includes how-to videos and instructions, recipes and tips that home bakers can follow, whether they want to master a baking skill or teach kids at home baking basics.

I love kneading bread. My mom used to say that ironing was relaxing to her (that trait did not get passed on), but kneading certainly is to me. Sometimes when a recipe calls for kneading with the mixer, I'll do it by hand.

When developing this recipe for Nielsen-Massey, I used one of their Better Your Bake kneading techniques: Stretch and Fold.

I found the technique video VERY helpful - even after years in the kitchen and having taken a bread baking class - I finally feel like I actually know what I'm doing, kneading-wise. (I don't know what I'm doing about much else.)

Let me walk you through the recipe and the kneading technique!

You'll start by stirring together the dry ingredients. Here's a hint for yeast: buy the 1-pound bag of instant yeast and pop it in your freezer. It keeps for a long time, and you'll always have it on hand.

Next, stir together the wet ingredients. You'll add these to the dry ingredients along with eggs and butter.

Mix just until it all comes together, then we knead using the stretch and fold technique. watch Nielsen-Massey’s video here.

Scrape the dough out onto a clean, dry, un-floured countertop. 

Use one hand to hold the half of the dough closest to you. Use the other hand to stretch the other half of the dough away. 

Fold the stretched dough back towards you on top of itself. 

Rotate 90°. Repeat until the dough is relatively smooth and no longer sticky. If the dough becomes difficult to stretch, let it rest 5 minutes, then resume kneading. This process may take 15-30 minutes. Very meditative and satisfying! 

You can check it by doing a “windowpane test.” Take a golfball-size portion of dough and stretch it between your fingers. If you can see light through and does not tear apart, it’s properly kneaded.

Once kneaded, the dough will rise for about an hour, until doubled. Then, you'll divide the dough into 12 equal pieces. If you have a kitchen scale, this is an excellent use for it. If not, eyeball it by diving the dough into half, then quarters. Divide each quarter into thirds. Your pieces will be fairly even. Shape into balls and place in a greased baking pan.

The rolls will rise for a bit, and then you're ready to bake!


While still warm from the oven, brush with Nielsen-Massey Pure Lemon Paste. This is a new discovery for me, and I can think of, oh, about a million ways to use it. Rim a cocktail glass, stir into yogurt, etc.

Last but not least, sprinkle with some coarse sugar. Oh, so sparkly!

Serve these warm or at room temperature. They're a delight either way, but extra magical when warm.

Lemon Sweet Rolls 


YIELD: 12 rolls
PREP TIME: 45 minutes
RISE TIME: 1 hour 40 minutes

BAKE TIME: 25 minutes

Lightly sweet and kissed with lemon and vanilla, these fluffy rolls are perfect for teatime, brunch, or for snacking.

3 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1/4 cup instant potato flakes
1/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup 2% or whole milk, room temperature
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons Nielsen-Massey Vanillas Pure Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract
Zest of one lemon, or one teaspoon
2 large eggs, beaten
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons Nielsen-Massey Vanillas Pure Lemon Paste
Turbinado or sparkling sugar, or any coarse sugar

Stir together the flour, potato flakes, sugar, yeast, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer. In another bowl or large measuring cup, combine the milk, lemon juice, honey, vanilla, and zest. Add to the dry ingredients along with the eggs and mix until combined. Scrape bottom and sides of bowl as needed.

Beat in the butter, tablespoon by tablespoon until incorporated.

Scrape the dough out onto a clean, dry, un-floured countertop. Knead using the stretch and fold technique. Use one hand to hold the half of the dough closest to you. Use the other hand to stretch the other half of the dough away. Fold the stretched dough back towards you on top of itself. Rotate 90°. Repeat until the dough is relatively smooth and no longer sticky. If the dough becomes difficult to stretch, let it rest 5 minutes, then resume kneading. This process may take 15-30 minutes.

Other than the dough becoming smooth and less sticky, you can check it by doing a “windowpane test.” Take a golfball-size portion of dough and stretch it between your fingers. If you can see light through and dough does not tear apart, it’s properly kneaded.

Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a piece of oiled plastic wrap to rise for about 1 hour. The dough should double in size.

Remove from the bowl and divide into 12 equal pieces. A kitchen scale helps here. Form each piece into a ball and place in a greased 13x9” pan. Cover with a piece of oiled plastic wrap to rise for 40 minutes.

Preheat oven to 325. Once the rolls have risen, bake for 25-30 minutes until lightly golden. Remove from the oven. While still warm, brush with lemon paste and sprinkle with sugar.

Serve warm or at room temperature. Rolls may be stored wrapped in foil at room temperature.

Get ready - you're going to fall in love with these rolls! Make them and tag @nielsenmassey, @thefeedfeed#BetterYourBake, and @bridget350. We want to see your bake!



5 comments

  1. This kneading technique is so helpful. I am making homemade sourdough and have had trouble figuring out the knead from online directions. This helps so much! That lemon paste looks amazing.

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  2. Good to know that works too! It was perfect the first time. I learn so much from you as well! Wow great post.

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Thank you so much for taking the time to comment! For some reason, I am not able to reply to comments at the moment. If you have a recipe question, please reach out on twitter or instagram. :)