Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Blueberry Cheesecake Challah Rolls

I am a great lover of frozen fruit all year round, but especially through the winter.  When the fresh fruit at my market isn't looking quite so fresh, I go to freezer aisle knowing its produce was likely packaged in-season and fresher than anything I can find in the coolers across the store. These lovely twisted challah breads highlight the beauty of frozen blueberries, in honor of The U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council's "little blue dynamo" recipe contest!

'Tis the season for challah bread, and this recipe really makes the most of it!  This yeast-leavened egg bread is made richer with cream cheese and is gently spiced with cardamom.  Cardamom blends beautifully with blueberries.  For a heady aroma, double or triple the amount of cardamom in your challah dough.  For me, this recipe's subtlety of spice allows the blueberry to be the shining star.

Blueberry Cheesecake Challah Rolls

Makes 6 large rolls.  Each roll serves 4.

4½ teaspoons active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
3 large eggs
½ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
6 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
½ cup old-fashioned rolled oats
3 cups frozen blueberries (from the grocer's freezer section), divided
Additional flour for kneading
1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water for glaze

In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Allow to stand about 5 minutes until foamy.  Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine eggs, brown sugar and cream cheese using an electric mixer on medium speed (it will be a little chunky).  Mix in the yeast and water.  Using a large wooden spoon, stir in flour, salt, cardamom and oats.  Stir the mixture together until all of the flour is picked up from the bowl.

Turn the dough onto a well-floured counter and knead for 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic, adding flour as needed until the dough no longer sticks to your hands and the counter top.  Form the dough into a round ball and place in a large well greased bowl.  Cover the bowl with a tea towel and place it in a cold oven with the light turned on until doubled in size (approximately 2 hours).  Punch the dough down, cover with a towel and rise 30 minutes more.

Prepare 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.  Remove the dough from the bowl and shape it into a tight mound on a floured counter top.  Cut the dough into 6 equal sized wedges.  Shape one chunk of dough into a ball and roll out on a floured surface into an oval about 6 inches wide and 12 inches long.  Sprinkle 1/2 cup frozen blueberries over the dough, leaving a 1/2 inch section of dough around the edges.  Using your palms, gently press the berries into the dough. Starting on a wide side, roll up the dough and berries in a tight spiral (as you would when making cinnamon rolls). Arrange the length of dough seam side up.  Shape the dough with your hands to tighten it, even it out, and thin it out into a rope about 16 inches long.

Starting on one end, shape into a spiral by rolling the dough like a snail shell. Finish by turning the spiral onto its side and tucking the end under the loaf. Place the shaped loaf onto a large parchment covered baking tray.  Proceed in the same manner with the remaining 5 wedges of dough, placing 3 rolls on each of your sheet pans. Brush over the dough with your egg wash and place the rolls in the oven with the light on until they are doubled in size (about 2 hours).  Move your trays of dough into the refrigerator for 20 minutes before baking. This extra step will keep your bread from spreading on the pan and will help the roll hold its shape in the oven.  

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until the loaves are deep in color, sound hollow when you tap the bottom or when the internal temperature of your loaf is 210F on a digital thermometer. You may choose to bake the breads one tray at a time (it's ok to leave the second tray resting in the fridge while the first bakes) or you may bake the breads on 2 racks, rotating halfway through the baking time.  When the top of the loaves have reached your desired color, cover the tops loosely with foil for the remainder of the baking time.

Cool your fresh baked bread on the sheet pans for 10 minutes, then transfer breads to a wire rack to cool completely before serving.

Enjoy - and click here for my recipe for Blueberry Challah French Toast with Blueberry Wine Breakfast Syrup!


  1. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?! I've GOT to try this...my stomach growls just looking at it!

  2. Wow I so love those! They look amazing!


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