The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Eight Distant Cousins?

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dmsnyder's picture

Eight Distant Cousins?


These rolls are a riff off the test recipe called "Seven Sisters" from Norm Berg and Stan Ginzburg's much-anticipated New York Jewish bakery history/cookbook. I cannot divulge the whole recipe, but I think it's okay to say those are basically cinnamon rolls made with babka dough and baked in a cluster.

After eating some (I'm not telling how many.) of the Seven Sisters, my wife made a number of suggestions: 

1. Make them again!

2. Make them less sweet.

3. I like them more nutty. (That's why she sticks with me. It's not 'cause I'm so sweet.)

4. Make the rolls separated. The browned outside is the best.

Made up, egg washed and ready for the final proof

I had found that, at least in my oven, the rolls' tops browned too quickly, while the sides were still quite pale. So, in addition to complying with request #4, I also baked them at 25ºF cooler than the Seven Sisters.

I used the same filling, except I used over twice as much pecans. I borrowed a trick from SusanFNP and left half the pecans in large pieces and finely chopped the other half.

Just out of the oven. Ready to rack and glaze.

In compliance with request #2, I glazed the rolls much more sparingly after baking. In fact, I left two un-glazed, as specified by Version 1.1 of the above fix list.

I think both versions - "Seven Sisters" and "Eight Distant Cousins" - are pretty darn good. My wife loved the less sweet and more nutty version, even with the glaze.





txfarmer's picture

Drooling! I agree with your wife - those nutty ones are the best, both in breads and in men! :P

dmsnyder's picture

Our all-time favorite sweet roll was the pecan rolls from Fantasia Bakery in San Francisco. The bakery is long-closed, but the recipes are available from Sandy Weil's children for a small sum, all of which goes to charities. The main difference is that Fantasia's pecan rolls were made with laminated (Danish pastry) dough.


LindyD's picture

Those are extremely tantalizing, David.

You wife has good taste in her preference for the browned outside - and in men (who bake)!

dmsnyder's picture

I used to have a browner outside myself, but as I get older I worry more about ultraviolet skin damage. So, to maintain the balance, I get nuttier and bake more.


Joey Moose's picture
Joey Moose

Oh my, those look SO good.  *wipes drool off chin*

EvaB's picture

of DH's quest for cinnmon buns, which in our familys was a bread dough rolled out, spread with butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and rasins and baked. Total yumminess, we were at farmer's market two weekends ago and got what were supposed to be cinnamon rolls, pathetic, had maybe an inch of dough sprinkled with cinnamon, no butter, no brown sugar no raisins. Got some this past weekend, with the filling correct, and twice the price, but at leas the was happy. As soon as I can make bread dough that I can actually roll out properly and it will raise the second time, I shall have to try the pecans as I love those. Of course any nuts would be good in my estimation.

I like the lovely browned outsides, like the rolls in the corners of the pans the best!


dmsnyder's picture

I don't have much experience as a consumer of bakery cinnamon rolls, but these are made with a highly enriched, sweet, eggy dough. The dough is so rich and tasty, it just needs a little filling.

I agree that the brown, caramelized dough is yummiest.


saltandserenity's picture

I could be good friends with your wife!!  I agree with all her suggestions, and if you separated the buns then we wouldn't have to fight for the crusty ones!!

rayel's picture

Hi David, enjoyed viewing your excellent rolls. My High school cafeteria, of all places, made a roll with a soft porous, buttery, goodness, that had honey and cinnamon inside, and seemed to have been very tall as though made in a high cupped muffin pan. Ater all these years I can remember the texture. Amazing.



dmsnyder's picture

I think my wife likes these modified rolls. She is taking them to work for her mid-morning snack, having them for desert after dinner and eating them for bedtime snack.

Last night, she was comparing the relative baker's percentages of butter in the rolls to her chocolate chip cookies and her sour cream chocolate chip coffee cake. This is a subtle sign she wants them as a staple in our baking repertoire. Uh oh.


davidg618's picture

you tweaked.

I felt I had to over-bake the encircling six sisters in order to properly bake the central roll. In my first bake I removed the pan when the encircling rolls were properly baked, but the center was doughy. I have the same trouble baking 12 sticky buns in a 13 x 9 pan.

I considered placing a biscuit cutter in the center of the 8" pan, and surrounding it with the seven rolls, but ultimately did as directed. I will make comment to NYB re the doughy center problem.

I also agree the browned dough is best tasting, ergo, bake them individually.

I don't dislike the level of sweetness in the base recipe, but I can imagine slightly less sweet would be equally tasty.

Great job, David

David G


dmsnyder's picture

It's interesting that what is the "perfect" cinnamon roll seems to vary a lot from person to person. Some like them soft and billowy. I prefer them rich and flavorful like these. Some like such a heavy frosting I would think it would dominate the eating experience and be horribly sweet.

I would compare sweet rolls to pizza. For many, it's the toppings that "make it." For others, it's the crust that's really important. For me, I now realize, the quality of the pastry is what makes a sweet roll good or bad. The toppings and glazes should complement the dough or add to the visual appeal but not overwhelm the good flavors of the pastry itself.


Urchina's picture

Hooray! You've just told me what I'm going to do with the leftover Babka dough in the freezer..... 


Oooh, our friends and neighbors are going to be happy!