Maple Sugar Pinwheels

Dsc02033 As you can probably imagine, I have a very large recipe file, or perhaps I should say set of files.  Separated into categories, according to courses or occasions, are hundred of magazine clippings, recipes from the Internet, and the occasional food-styled photo.  At the beginning of the month, I routinely flip through the files, and I select several recipes which I think I might want to try over the next few weeks.  Usually only about half of these actually ever get made, as I inevitably get distracted by a new idea from the latest Food and Wine issue or last night’s "Top Chef" quickfire challenge.  Some of what I end up preparing I make exactly as written, but most recipes just serve as inspiration for my own variation. 

One flaw that I have as a cook is that I don’t always read recipes completely through before I start.  I sometimes just stop at the end of the ingredient list and then dive in (I’m such a daredevil).  I know that reading the recipe from start to finish is something that they probably teach you on the first day of culinary school, but hey, I didn’t go to culinary school.  This flaw gets me in trouble when I have in my head that I am going to prepare a recipe for that same day, and then, there at the end of paragraph one are the words "refrigerate overnight."  Grrrrrrrrrrrr. 

This scenario happened to me the very first time that I attempted cinnamon rolls.  I could almost taste the warm spiced pastries covered with gooey icing when I realized that my taste buds would need to wait until the next day.  It would have been great to have this Maple Sugar Pinwheel recipe as a back-up.  They are really a cross between a biscuit and a cinnamon roll, but they come together and are warm out of the oven in about 45 minutes–almost instant gratification!  Here are just a few tips for these simple sweet biscuits:

  • Maple sugar can be both expensive and hard to find if you don’t live in a maple producing region of the country.   Sometimes it is available at places like Whole Foods, or you can purchase it on-line through the King Arthur Catalogue.  As a substitute for the maple sugar, combine 1 cup of sugar or brown sugar with 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon. 
  • To add an extra layer of sweetness, glaze the tops of the biscuits with a confectioner’s sugar glaze, 2 cups confectioner’s sugar mixed with a few tablespoons of milk.
  • The biscuits are best eaten straight out of the oven, but they can also be reheated, wrapped in foil, at 300F degrees, for 10-15 minutes.
  • As with pie crusts and scones, be sure to not overwork the dough, as this will result in tougher and not very flaky biscuits.

Maple Sugar Pinwheels

Makes 12


For the dough

2 cups flourDsc02031

1 tablespoon maple sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

5 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces

3/4 cup whole milk

For filling

6 tablespoons butter, room temperature

1 cup maple sugar

Dsc02031_2 Prepare the dough:  Preheat the oven to 400F degrees.  Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Pulse together the flour, maple sugar, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of a food processor.  Scatter the butter pieces over the flour mixture and pulse until the mixture has crumbs the size of small peas.  Transfer the mixture to a large bowl, add the milk, and stir with a fork until a loose dough forms.  Gently knead the dough 8 to 10 times on a lightly floured surface.

Roll out and fill the dough:  Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin, into a 13 by 11-inch rectangle.  Spread softened butter evenly over the dough and sprinkle all over with the maple sugar.  Beginning with one long side, roll up the dough snugly, jelly-roll style.  Cut the roll crosswise into 12 slices with a sharp knife.  Arrange the slices, cut sides down, 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet.  Sprinkle the tops with any excess maple sugar from the work surface.

Bake until the rolls are puffy and golden, 18-20 minutes.


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