Most everything is better with bacon.
In the South, bacon might as well be one of the five food groups, alongside vegetables, biscuits and/or cornbread, cheese dip, and sweet tea. It’s the basis of any true Southern side item, tops most casseroles, and makes a great afternoon snack with the aforementioned tea.
While reflecting on what I could post that epitomized a truly Southern breakfast, this recipe for bacon sweet rolls caught my eye. Could there be a way to take a cinnamon roll- perfect with it’s warm cinnamon smell wafting from the oven, soft in the center with ripples of vanilla icing- to another level? Is there a way to actually upgrade nature’s most perfect fried pork product? Can I personally contribute to a breakfast roll awakening in the kitchens of bacon-lovers everywhere?
I do not claim to know the answers to life’s most serious questions. This one, however- can bacon and sweet rolls coexist in perfect unity?- I can answer. With a resounding yes.
These rolls are why bacon makes most everything better. Filling, rich sweet dough swirled around salty, applewood smoked bacon that folds with brown sugar and butter into a wheel of national championship caliber (Did someone say 11:00 pre-game tailgate food? The other team’s fans will cheer for you). These are a first-meal treat in its highest form.
So don’t let all of that bacon go to waste on the side of your eggs. Wrap it in dough, throw it in the oven, and celebrate the South’s most perfect breakfast roll.
Also, a huge thank you to the incredibly talented Stephen DeVries for taking these beautiful photos. I don’t think breakfast has ever looked this good.
Bacon Sweet Rolls with Maple Glaze (Recipe adapted from this great food blog)
What You Will Need
1/2 cup granulated sugar
6 TBSP brown sugar
Sweet Dough (recipe below)
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, warm room temperature
1 pound bacon, cooked (I liked this brand, applewood-smoked), crispy and crumbled
Maple Glaze (recipe below)
1 cup warm whole milk
2 envelopes (4 ½ tsp.) active dry yeast
1/4 tsp. plus 2/3 cup granulated sugar
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp. salt
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
Stir milk (I microwaved mine until it felt pretty warm to the touch; typically it should be about 110-120 degrees), yeast, and 1/4 tsp. sugar in a small bowl. Let it stand until the mixture bubbles, about 6 minutes (you will see tiny bubbles rising to the surface). Stir it again.
Using a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, add the flour and salt and mix on low speed just to combine.
Add yeast mixture to the flour and mix on medium-low speed until dry shaggy mass forms, scraping down the bowl occasionally, about 2 minutes.
Add egg and egg yolk and beat on medium speed until well blended. Then add the sugar and beat until moist soft dough that resembles thick batter forms, about 3 minutes. (Keep on beating the batter here, even when it looks like it is already in dough form. It needs to become more like a silky batter than a thick dough.)
Add room temperature butter 1 tbsp at a time and beat on medium-low speed until almost incorporated before adding more, about 2 minutes (your dough will be sticky, not thick like a traditional bread dough). Beat dough on medium-high 2 minutes longer (make sure all of your butter is incorporated here).
Scrape dough out onto a work surface then gather together. Place it in a large bowl that is oiled or buttered. Cover with plastic wrap; let rise at room temperature until almost doubled, about 2 hours. Punch dough down; cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight.
2 TBSP unsalted butter
1/4 cup pure maple syrup (the darker the better, go for the real Vermont thing if you can)
1 ¼ cup powdered sugar
In a small saucepan, melt butter and syrup together over medium heat (watch the mixture because it comes together quickly). Whisk powdered sugar into the hot mixture until smooth. Let cool slightly…if too thick add a little more maple syrup. Pour over rolls.
To Bring It All Together
Whisk both sugars together.
Turn cold Sweet Dough out onto floured surface; sprinkle with flour. The more flour the better here; when you roll it out it gets a bit sticky.
Divide the dough in half. Roll out the dough to two 15 by 12 inch rectangles. I can never seem to make actual rectangles with my dough, it’s always more of a large oval, so whatever works for you will still be delicious.
Using fingers, spread the butter evenly over each rectangle. Sprinkle ½ sugar mixture and half of the bacon over each. Starting at one long side of each dough rectangle, tightly roll up dough jelly-roll style, enclosing filling. Using a sharp serrated knife, cut each roll crosswise into fifteen or sixteen one inch-thick slices. Arrange your dough slices on a cookie sheet, spacing evenly apart.
Cover with plastic wrap; let them rise in a warm, draft-free area until the buns are puffy and doubled, about 1 hour 45 minutes.
Bake buns at 375F until deep golden brown. The cooking time varies here. I used a dark metal pan, and it only took mine about 15 minutes to cook. If you use a light metal cookie sheet, it will probably be more like 25 minutes. Just watch your rolls-because of the sugar inside of them, it can become a syrupy pool around your dough and burn them the bottom. Let the buns stand 2 minutes. Then cover with glaze and say hello to the best bacon baked bun of your life!