It's springtime here in Germany and strawberry season is in full bloom. The strawberries are local and bursting with flavor. I knew I had to make some sort of sweet treat utilizing these beauties!
This image is NOT edited or enhanced. Our local German strawberries really are that red and plump!
This container cost me about 5.50€ ($6.60) and worth every single penny. The strawberry season just started about 2 weeks ago (pretty late this year, because it has been unusually cold) and the prices will drop as the season continues. But I couldn't wait. Patience is not one of my virtues.
If you have ever been to germany you will know that on every corner is a bakery. Everyday they present dozens of freshly baked rolls, breads, pretzels, and of course pastries. Bakeries in Germany are treasured, beloved, and found everywhere! Here in Germany, the pastries differ depending on the season and right now many bakeries are featuring these strawberry pudding sweet rolls. I have also seen danishes with fresh strawberries (Erdbeer Plunder) and don't worry, that is also on my list of strawberry treats to make.
But as you all know I am gluten free. I can't just walk into my local bakery and indulge in an afternoon treat. I knew that if I ever wanted to try a strawberry pudding sweet roll, I would have to make it myself. So I did!
The glaze is ooey and gooey and the dough is soft on the inside with just a hint of firmness on the outside. The chopped strawberries add that bright acidic note that delivers the pop of freshness needed to break up the sweetness. This recipe is similar to an American cinnamon roll... minus the cinnamon. Instead the insides are slathered with a homemade vanilla pudding and fresh strawberries. And yes, the vanilla pudding is baked directly into the sweet roll acting like a custard or pastry cream.
Surprisingly these are very easy to make. In my opinion they are easier than cinnamon rolls. What I love about this recipe is that the two first steps take about 5 minutes of active work time. Then you just have to wait for about 90 minutes (dough to rise and pudding to cool) until you can assemble. Even better, you can make the vanilla pudding ahead of time and just put it in the fridge. Just make sure to take it out about an hour or so before you want to assemble the sweet rolls. This will ensure that the pudding is not so cold and having it room temp will make it more spreadable.
This recipe really speaks for itself but I will go through a few parts of the assembly. If you need more picture instructions for the pudding, you can refer back to my Bee Sting Cake recipe where I used the exact same pudding recipe and it worked perfectly.
I will say that I made my dough in the bread machine. I LOVE my bread machine. I use it at least once a week. It is not just for baking bread, but for any type of dough, whether that be pizza, bagels, pretzels or any type of sweet yeast dough like the one I am featuring today. It takes me less than 5 minutes to throw all the ingredients in and press start. Then 90 minutes later my dough looks like this and I am ready to roll it out.
If you do not have a bread machine, no worries. In the recipe below I explain how to make the dough by hand or by using a stand mixer with a dough hook.
You want to make sure to roll out your dough into a rectangular shape; it doesn't have to be absolutely perfect, but try your best.
For being a gluten free dough, it was unbelievably pliable and easy to work with. Very often gluten free breads are too dense, too dry, too ugh... cardboard tasting. I could tell already that this dough would be soft and flavorful just by the ease of it rolled out.
Next you want to spread your vanilla pudding directly on top and then sprinkle your fresh strawberries on top of the pudding. I will say, I was very skeptical at this point. I have made homemade vanilla pudding dozens of time, but I have never actually baked with it. I have never put already made vanilla pudding into the oven. This is a technique that Germans use quite often. I had to research it a bit and read through a bunch of authentic German recipes to discover this IS the way that Germans really make this delicious treat. If I had to take a guess, I would say that Germans use vanilla pudding because while it is sweet, it isn't overly sweet. Germans to do not gravitate towards overly sweet desserts like we do in America. The desserts here usually have just a hint of sweetness without leaving you feeling heavy, weighed down, or exhausted... after eating just one pastry.
Now it is time to start rolling. You want to try and keep your roll as tight as possible while still keeping the strawberries in place. Go slow, but don't stress out too much. If you end up rolling it too loose the end product will still taste amazing.
Typically, you roll sweet rolls or cinnamon rolls starting with the longest side, but I actually decided to start with the shorter side. This would provide me with more of a snail or spiral effect once I cut into it.
Once I rolled it up I did notice that my rectangle wasn't perfect. So I just chopped off the edges. At first I thought I would just toss them in the garbage, but in the end I did bake them since I had a bit of room on my baking tray. They came out a bit smaller but still had a wonderful taste. They were the perfect 'kid' size for my 3 year old who didn't blink an eye when her 7 year old sister received a much larger piece.
Here you can see how the inside of the roll (raw) looks while I was cutting all my slices. I kept my slices about 1.5 inches thick (3-4 cm).
Then I just laid them all out on my baking tray with a little bit of space between each slice.
The above picture was taken before they were baked and below you can see how they look when they come out of the oven. It took me about 22-23 minutes to bake these.
Now comes my favorite part. The glaze. I love making glazes, because they are so simple and require basically no skill or effort. Just mix everything in a bowl and then you can either use a spoon or a brush to glaze your sweet rolls. I let my rolls cool for about 5-10 minutes. Just so they were cool enough to touch. If they are too hot (right out of the oven) the warmth will melt your glaze. I recommend drenching your rolls in glaze. Just slather them on the top and sides and let it drip down. Let that glaze just glisten upon your rolls.
And that's it. If possible, you should wait about 20 minutes before grabbing a cup of hot coffee and biting right into these. Waiting the extra 20 minutes will allow the glaze to harden.
Instead of snacking on these at home, I packed them up and we went on a short hike at a monastery called Kloster Eberbach which is just about a mile from our home. The grounds are stunning and this monastery was established in 1136. It used to be one of the most active monasteries in all of Germany and it became quite famous through its wine production. While the monastery still produces wine the monks are no longer present.
If you are in the area I highly suggest a visit. The private tours as well as the audio guides are incredibly interesting. (Fun fact, I actually edited the English audio guide tour. I didn't do the voice over but at least you know it is well written.) Stop and pick up some wine while you're there. There is no entry fee, but if you drive it is 4€ for a day parking ticket or you can take the bus. The grounds are so beautiful, dogs on a leash are welcome, and there are tons of great hiking trails that stem off of this monastery.
We hiked to the top of what my daughter calls 'Eichhörnchenburg' (Squirrel Fortress) and had ourselves a fantastic picnic with beautiful views over Hattenheim and the Rhein river.
Maddy, my confident, independent, smart, funny, and of course caring daughter used to come to this spot all the time when she was in her forrest kindergarten. They would take the city bus to the monastery everyday and be outside; rain or shine, playing, hiking, whittling with real knives, climbing, and learning about nature. Now that she is in 1st grade, she sometimes misses her 'playground' and asked if we could do a fun weekend hike.
I was more than happy to oblige.
And of course for any age, old or young, make sure you make a stop at the 'Schafswiese' (Sheep pastures) and say hello to the handful of sheep and goats that are on the monastery grounds. There is a sign that says not to feed the animals but Maddy says that means don't feed the sheep and goats normal people food. That it is perfectly fine to feed them grass, dandelions and apple leaves.
Our little Nathalie, 3 years old, will join that forrest Kindergarten group sometime next year, but I think she would be ready for it right now!
Whether you eat your sweet strawberry rolls at home or on the road just make sure to have plenty of napkins or baby wipes at the ready, because they are filled with a delicious sweet STICKY goodness.