Strawberry Sweet Rolls
Such a bright delight are these strawberry sweet rolls which are super fluffy, tender, and beaming with strawberry flavor. They’re also topped with an insanely delicious strawberry cream cheese icing!
One of the things I love about living in Florida is the abundance of fresh seasonal produce. Farmers markets are one of my most favorite things to do on the weekends to grab some goodness; fruit, greens, fresh baked pastries, breads, and more! In Florida, our strawberry season typically runs from December to March too. There are several local farms near me that allow you to peruse the farm and grab the most luscious and juicy ruby red strawberries. I love to grab a big ole flat of them and find ways to use ’em throughout the week.
One of my favorite events here in Tampa is the Plant City Strawberry Festival which is around the beginning of March! This here annual affair is an almost two week long event that celebrates the strawberry harvest of Eastern Hillsborough County. The festival is filled with entertainment galore, rides, and ample strawberry desserts like strawberry shortcake, yum. Last year I shared my lemon sweet rolls recipe and it blew up to say the very least. So, y’all know that ya girl had to give you another one (*DJ Khaled voice*), ha!
The Best Strawberry Sweet Rolls, Ever!
Listen, I love making rolls/buns of any kind- they’re just my thing. And my goodness you guys, these strawberry sweet rolls are giving you soft, fluffy, tender, and strawberry-filled vibes! Sheesh, such a dreamy and delectable dessert that is hitting perfect on the sweetness without being cloyingly over the top. I chose to keep the strawberry flavor at a perfect level here so even strawberry haters can rejoice as well!
Ingredients To Make Strawberry Sweet Rolls
(Note: the full ingredients list, including measurements, is provided in the recipe card directly below.)
- Active dry yeast: This is a common pantry staple and a must for making yeast dough of any kind. I love using active dry yeast over instant/rapid rise yeast but you can use that too!
- Granulated sugar: Good ole white granulated sugar that is used to make the dough and also the filling.
- Whole milk: My recipe calls for whole milk but you can work with 2% milk and even almond milk too!
- Eggs: Three eggs needed to give these rolls a lovely texture.
- Butter: We’re team #butterbeready so we stay ready around these parts right?! Ha. All jokes aside- butter is needed for all three parts within these rolls: the dough, the filling, and the icing.
- Vanilla extract: Gives signature vanilla flavor within the dough and the icing.
- All-purpose flour: This commonly known traditional and pantry staple flour for the dough.
- Bread flour: This is a flour that has a higher protein level (more gluten) in it than all-purpose flour. I love using this flour as well to give these strawberry sweet rolls more texture and chewiness.
- Freeze-dried strawberries: This is the signature key ingredient, y’all! You should be able to find this in your local grocery stores and even online too! Additionally, if you have a dehydrator at home you can make your own. Freeze-dried strawberries have a longer shelf life since the water is removed.
- Salt: Just a little in the dough and in the filling.
- For the strawberry cream cheese icing: Okay these rolls are divine but this icing tho, swoon! You’ll need butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar, freeze-dried strawberry powder, vanilla extract, and milk.
Active Dry Yeast Vs. Instant/Rapid Rise Yeast
Active Dry Yeast: This type of yeast is said to produce a more richer and artisanal yeast flavor that requires *two rises* of the dough. It needs to be added to wet ingredients to bloom and dissolved in warm liquids of around 100°-110°F. As I said earlier, active dry yeast is my favorite to use because of the blooming process. You get the confirmation of the “proofing” action as opposed to using instant/rapid rise yeast.
Instant/Rapid Rise Yeast: Alternatively, this kind of yeast cuts down on the overall rise time as it only requires one rest and one rise. Instant yeast granules are smaller, which allows them to dissolve more quickly. This is a yeast that you use along with your dry ingredients like the flour and salt. Conversely, some still like to see the blooming process with quick yeast and add it to wet ingredients around 120°-130°F.
How To Know When Yeast Is Activated
This is one of the commonly asked questions that I get and understand why. Making yeast dough can be intimidating and tricky but I want you to be rest assured that even a novice can make these strawberry sweet rolls. The first thing that you want to do is check for the expiration date on your yeast- make sure it’s fresh!
>> For active dry yeast, you’ll combine the the yeast, warmed milk, and sugar together. Let this mixture sit for about 7-10 minutes or until you begin to see the mixture bloom and it gives off a fragrant smell.
>> For instant/rapid rise yeast, again, you simply add it along with the dry ingredients. This type of yeast does not require any proofing unless you do want to see the blooming and add it to the warmed milk.
Other Great Recipes To Try
- Lemon Sweet Rolls
- The Best Overnight Cinnamon Rolls
- Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls
- Brown Butter Eggnog Cinnamon Rolls
- Mocha Chocolate Cream Pie
- Almond Bundt Cake with Caramel Icing
- Best Ever Skillet Peach Cobbler
- Date Night Chocolate Cake
Let’s Talk Freeze-Dried Strawberries
Freeze-dried fruit is one of my favorite things to use when it comes to baking. Dehydrated strawberries are perfect to use to give baked goods that strawberry flavor without any sogginess/wetness. You will need to use a blender or food processor beforehand to pulse the freeze-dried strawberries into fine crumbs. These strawberry sweet rolls have that strawberry powder in both the yeast dough and in the strawberry icing. I love seeing the strawberry scented flecks laced throughout the dough and in the icing, ugh it’s so perfect.
How To Make Strawberry Sweet Rolls
(Note: please see the recipe card directly below for the complete + full instructions.)
- Combine the yeast, warm milk, and sugar together to activate the yeast.
- Once activated/bloomed: add in the eggs, melted butter, vanilla extract, all-purpose flour, bread flour, strawberry powder, and salt. Knead the dough together until combined.
- Transfer the dough into a large greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap/linen.
- Allow the dough to proof/rise in a warm environment until it doubles in size.
- Punch the dough down and roll it out onto a lightly floured surface.
- Use your hands to spread the butter evenly over the dough.
- Evenly sprinkle the granulated sugar and salt over the dough.
- Carefully roll the dough into a tight log and cut into neat slices.
- Arrange the slices into a 9×13-inch baking pan and cover with plastic wrap.
- If making the strawberry sweet rolls on the same day, allow the rolls to proof/rise again until puffy and then bake as directed. If making the rolls on the next day, cover the baking pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate them overnight for no more than 8-10 hours >> any longer and they will begin to dry out.
- Take the rolls out of the fridge and let them come up to room temperature until puffy and then bake.
- While the rolls bake, prepare the strawberry cream cheese icing.
- Allow the rolls to cool for 5 minutes and then spread the icing onto them.
Tips For Making The Best Rolls
- Milk: Make sure that your milk is properly warmed (about 100°-110°F) >> for active dry yeast. After warming your milk, if it is too hot simply let it sit by itself until it cools down some.
- Room temperature ingredients: For the dough, your eggs need to be at room temperature and not cold from the fridge. Otherwise the dough mixture will coagulate and not blend together seamlessly. For the filling, the butter needs to be softened to room temperature so that it is spreadable. Lastly, for the icing, the butter and cream cheese also need to be softened to room temperature.
- Rise/proof time: Allow the dough to proof at the directed times for proper effectiveness.
- Use a lightly floured work surface: Make sure that your work area is *lightly* floured along with your rolling pin to prevent any sticking.
- Refrigeration time: Do not refrigerate the unbaked rolls for longer than 8-10 hours.
Can I Use Just All-Purpose Flour?
Yes! I recommend making these strawberry sweet rolls as directed with the use of all-purpose and bread flour, however, you can use just all-purpose flour. Bread flour adds a bit more of a bite and texture to these rolls since bread flour contains a higher protein content; which adds more gluten inside of the dough.
Storing These Strawberry Sweet Rolls
For refrigeration: You can store the baked/iced rolls in the refrigerator for up to three days for freshness. Just put them into an airtight container and when ready to consume them, allow the rolls to sit out on the counter to come up to room temperature. Warming them in the microwave for a few seconds will melt off the icing so I would be careful with that unless you have any leftover reserved icing on the side.
For freezing: Make sure the strawberry sweet rolls are covered and wrapped nicely into an airtight container before freezing. Before baking, allow the rolls to defrost and come back up to room temperature prior to baking. If they are un-iced, bake them at 350°F for about 10 minutes and then ice them as desired.
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UNTIL NEXT TIME…LOVE AND BUTTER,
Such a bright delight are these strawberry sweet rolls which are super fluffy, tender, and beaming with strawberry flavor. They’re also topped with a delicious strawberry cream cheese icing!
For the dough:
- 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
- 1 cup whole milk, lightly warmed
- 2 1/4 teaspoons (1 packet) active dry yeast
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and lightly cooled
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups bread flour, plus more as needed
- 4 tablespoons freeze-dried strawberry powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
For the filling:
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 cup white granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Strawberry Cream Cheese Icing:
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 4 ounces (block-style) cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon freeze-dried strawberry powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup whole milk
For the dough:
- In the bowl of a stand mixer: add in the sugar, warmed milk, and sprinkle the yeast on top. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes to activate the yeast. Look for the mixture to bloom and be somewhat fragrant. Then add in the eggs, butter, vanilla extract, all-purpose flour, bread flour, strawberry powder, and salt. Attach the dough hook attachment onto your mixer.
- Knead/mix on medium speed until the dough begins to come together. Knead the dough until smooth but still soft, about 6-7 minutes. Alternatively, knead the dough by hand if not using a stand mixer. The dough should be nice and soft and may be a little sticky. If you find that your dough is too sticky (and sticking to the bottom/sides of the bowl), add in 1-2 tablespoons more of bread flour only if needed.
- Shape the dough into a ball and place it into a large greased bowl and turn the dough ball over to fully coat the dough. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a clean linen and let the dough proof in a warm environment until it doubles in size, about 1 1/2 – 2 hours.
- Once the dough has doubled in size, punch the dough down and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Roll the dough out into a rectangle (about 14×9 inches) with the longer side facing you. Use a little extra flour on the rolling pin if the dough is sticking *only if needed*.
- Filling: Use your hands to spread the softened butter over the dough and then sprinkle the sugar and salt evenly over the dough leaving a 1 inch border at the top and bottom.
- Carefully roll up the dough into a log starting with the longest side furthest from you, pinching the seams of the dough to seal. I recommend cutting about 1 inch off the ends of the log as those ends will not be as uniform as the other pieces. Cut the log crosswise into 9 equal slices using a sharp knife (alternatively, you can also make 12 rolls if you cut them in smaller sizes).
- Lightly butter/spray a 9×13 inch baking pan and then line it with parchment paper for (as filling may leak out). Then arrange the slices with the cut side up into the pan. Cover the baking dish with plastic wrap and transfer it into the refrigerator to rest the rolls overnight, 8-10 hours (<<< no more than this time frame!). Alternatively, to make rolls on the same-day, allow the rolls to proof again in a warm environment for another 1-2 hours until puffy and then bake as directed.
- Remove the rolls from the refrigerator and allow the rolls to come back up to room temperature for 1 – 2 hours, until puffy, before baking. While the rolls sit out, preheat the oven to 350°F. Remove the plastic wrap and bake rolls for about 30 minutes or until lightly golden brown.
- While the strawberry sweet rolls bake, prepare the icing (instructions below).
- Once the rolls are done baking; allow them to cool for 5 minutes and then use an offset spatula or spoon to spread the icing over the rolls, as desired, and serve. Enjoy!
Strawberry Cream Cheese Icing:
- Beat the butter and cream cheese together until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add in the powdered sugar and continue beating until well incorporated. Then add in the strawberry powder and vanilla extract and continue beating together to combine. Pour in the milk and mix together again until the icing fully comes together and is completely smooth.
- Freeze dried strawberries: You will need a package of at least 1.2 oz (34 grams).
- Warming milk: I like to warm the milk by placing it into a microwave safe vessel and warming it for about 50 seconds. The milk should be warm like a baby’s bottle (between 100°-110° F) and not scorching hot or it will kill the yeast.
- Overnight time: No more than 8-10 hours of refrigeration time is recommended or it will cause the rolls to dry out and change in texture.
- Please read the blog post in its entirety for more tips + tricks.
Keywords: yeast, sweets, strawberry, desserts, baking, rolls, buns