Sweet Cream Cheese Rolls
Updated: Aug 10
Soft and airy sweet rolls filled with vanilla sweet cream cheese. In Poland these are also known as Cracovian Rolls.
Imagine creamy, baked cheesecake wrapped in fluffy and sweet bread dough - these rolls are just that!
The rolls from this recipe are made using our rich sweet dough (more butter, more eggs). Kneading here is slightly longer than in the base dough (5-8 minutes longer). This makes the rolls extra fluffy and soft but also allows for the dough to lift up sweet cream cheese during baking without compromising the texture (rolls are not gooey or hard). You can use cream cheese or Philadelphia cheese for this bake. Using vanilla bean paste or vanilla beans gives the cream cheese that sweet and slightly woody/smoky flavour.
First, you will be proofing the yeast. All ingredients then need to be mixed to form the dough. Kneading here is simply patting the dough, rotating the bowl every so often to aerate the dough from ever side - 15-20 minutes (or if using stand mixer - work on low-medium speed with dough hook attachment, 20 minutes). The first rise is really important to get the required texture here so we would recommend transferring tightly covered bowl into warm (not hot) closed oven. After 45 minutes the dough should double in size.
When preparing cream cheese filling use fork/spoon - few swift moves to combine all the ingredients. You don’t want to over-mix the filling, otherwise cream cheese will become too runny. Add 1 Tablespoon of potato or corn starch - we marked it as optional but it will help cream cheese from overflowing while baking (starch binds the texture).
To shape the rolls you will need to roll the dough into rectangle shape, and apply 2/3rd of cream cheese in the middle. Then you will be folding the dough in 3 (like a business letter), applying remaining part of cream cheese on top of the layer before covering it with the second part to form flat rectangle. Have a look at the pictures - when spreading second cheese layer leave at least 1 cm of the dough uncovered so that both parts of the dough will stick when combined (otherwise the cheese may overflow). Then you will be cutting 9-10 rolls. Make sure to use sharp knife otherwise it may get messy.
Transfer the rolls onto the baking tray and twist once around the middle. If your cream cheese got too runny and twisting got a bit messy - don’t worry, clean the parchment paper from cream cheese residue, leave rolls with the shape achieved. While baking the cream cheese which now looks a bit messy will set. Then you will transfer rolls into warm place for second rest, only 15 minutes - just enough time to preheat the oven. Baking time is short - some 20-25 minutes.
We love baking with yeast. Browse around the blog to see some other sweet or savoury options:
Sweet Cream Cheese Rolls Recipe
Yield: 9-10 rolls
Time: 2 hours (mainly dough rest)
Tin: baking tray
For Yeast Proofing:
- 1 cup* (250ml) full-fat milk
- 1/2 cup (100g) sugar
- 1 pack (7g) active dry yeast or 25g active bulk dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
For the Dough:
- 3 and 1/2 cups (525g) all-purpose flour + 2-3 Tablespoons (20-30g) for kneading
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 115g unsalted butter, melted
- 3 large eggs (1 egg + 2 egg yolks, leave egg whites for the egg wash)
Sweet Cream Cheese Filling:
- 500g cream cheese (you can use Philadelphia), room temperature
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
- 5 Tablespoons (60g) white granulated sugar
- 1 flat Tablespoon potato or corn starch (optional but recommended)
- 2 egg whites (leftover)
*cup = 250ml cup
Lemon Yoghurt Glaze (optional but so good):
- 80g confectioners' sugar
- 2 tsps natural yoghurt or sour cream
- 1 to 2 tsps freshly squeezed lemon juice
1. Proof the yeast: In a small pot mix milk with sugar and warm up to 38-40C making sure sugar is fully dissolved. Add active dry yeast, stir until combined. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of flour on top (no need to stir) and cover tightly with dry kitchen towel or cling film. Move the pot to the warm place for 15 minutes. After that time you should see the mixture foaming/bubbling up. If you don’t, you will need to repeat the step.
2. Combine the dough: Melt butter, once lukewarm add 1 large egg and 2 egg yolks and mix until combined - the combined mixture should be lukewarm. Sift flour (3 and 1/2 cups - 525g) and salt into your main bowl, add bubbly yeast (from Step 1) and lukewarm egg/butter mixture. Knead for 15-20 minutes. 12 minutes into kneading you can start adding more flour - one Tablespoon at a time (up to 2 or 3 Tablespoons, not more). If you are kneading by hand - kneading here is simply patting the dough in the bowl, remembering to turn the bowl every so often to aerate the dough from every side. If you are working with stand mixer - work on low-medium speed with dough hook attachment. After 15-20 minutes the dough should become elastic and should pull away easily from your hand. It will be still a little bit sticky - that’s OK, don’t add more flour. We would recommend kneading for full 20 minutes. After that time, transfer the dough to bowl lightly brushed with sunflower or olive oil. Cover tightly with dry kitchen towel or cling film and move to the warm place for 45 minutes. In that time the dough should double in size.
3. Prepare Sweet Cream Cheese Filling: Mix all ingredients until combined. Use fork/spoon or whisk here as you don’t want the mixture to get to runny.
4. Shape rolls: After the dough doubles in size, punch and knead for few seconds (to release yeasty bubbles). Transfer the dough onto lightly floured work surface and roll into 1cm thin rectangle. Spread 2/3rd of Sweet Cream Cheese Filling in the middle of the rectangle (see pictures). You will be folding the dough in 3 (same way you would fold a business letter). Fold 1st part to cover the cream cheese and apply the remaining part of filling on top. Cover up with the second part of the dough to form narrow rectangle (see pictures). Using sharp knife cut the rectangle vertically into 10 rolls. Prepare baking tray and lay with parchment paper. Transfer rolls (narrow rectangles) onto the baking tray and twist once or twice around the middle to form the shape. Leave covered for 15 minutes (2nd rest). In that time preheat the oven to 180C (160C fan forced). Brush with egg wash just before baking.
5. Bake at 180C (160C fan forced) for 20-25 minutes or until golden. In a meantime prepare the glaze: in a small pot mix all ingredients and warm up slightly, mixing until combined and smooth. Brush hot, baked rolls with the glaze and leave on the baking tray for 10 minutes then transfer to the cooling rack and cool for another 5-10 minutes before serving.
1. Cream cheese - keep the stirring and mixing to minimum - if you over-mix the filling may become too runny. If it does become to runny - don’t worry - work with sharp knife while cutting rolls, twist rolls on the baking tray and clean the residue from parchment paper. If there is any overflow on the roll it’s going to set while baking.
2. If you haven’t baked with yeast before you may opt to read few hints here on Working with Yeast.
Jazz up options:
1. Cream cheese:
- you can add any powdered freeze-dried fruit into the filling (strawberries and raspberries work well). Don’t use fresh fruit - cream cheese will become too runny or curdy and it won’t set during baking.
- you can add any flavour combinations in which regular cheesecakes come in: add lemon zest, orange, grapefruit or blood orange zest, cocoa (1 flat Tablespoon and adjust sugar to taste) etc.
2. Spices - you may opt to spice up cream cheese with chai spices, mixed spices (pumpkin pie spice, gingerbread spice), cinnamon. Use 1 teaspoon only not to overpower the sweet cream cheese flavour. Stay away from standalone strong spices like nutmeg, allspice, cloves.
3. Overnight Rolls - you may opt to prepare the rolls a night before, then shaped and unbaked, tightly covered, refrigerate overnight (skip second rest). In the morning bring the rolls to room temperature (60minutes - that’s your second rest) and bake.