Lemon and Vanilla Bean Swirls

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Lemon and Vanilla Bean Swirls 2

As soon as I saw a picture of a batch of lemon rolls, I knew I had to make them as soon as weather made a turn for the better. I’ve put my own spin on these by adding more lemon and adding the delicious addition of a vanilla bean. I like to re-invent a recipe so that I have something I can call my own. Lemon is the perfect flavour to bake with come spring and summer, I love the huge, hand sized lemons that you can get your hands on and as soon as I see these I know that they need to be baked with. For my lemon and vanilla bean swirls, get the biggest, most fattest lemons that you can find, it doesn’t matter how big these are, these rolls need them.

Lemon and Vanilla Bean Swirls 4

These rolls are sweet without being too sweet, the dough is enriched with bundles of lemon zest and the seeds from a vanilla bean. The dough is speckled with the vanilla seeds and lemon zest which will instantly make your taste buds tingle. The filling for these is a mixture of caster sugar, lemons zest and a little lemon juice which forms a paste, which you spread onto your dough. This melts and mingles with the dough providing a sweet surprise on the inside. The dough is soft and pulls delightfully apart as you devour them. I finally topped my lemon and vanilla bean swirls with a simple lemon glaze, made up with icing sugar and lemon juice. I drizzled this all over the rolls then grated the zest of one lemon all over the top of them.

Lemon and Vanilla Bean Swirls 1

You can leave the dough in the fridge over night which is perfect if your short on time or if you want a delicious treat to start your day with. Simply remove them from the fridge, leave them to come to room temperature for an hour then bake them. It’s as simple as that, then you dig right in and start your day the right way. A little sweetness first thing is bound to make your day a delightful one.

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Yields 12 rolls.



2 1/2 teaspoons (7 gram sachet) Active dried yeast

185 ml (3/4 cup) Warm milk (100F in temperature)

110 grams + 45 grams (1 stick + 3 tablespoons) Unsalted butter, very soft

30 grams (1/4 cup) Vanilla scented caster sugar

1 teaspoon Pure vanilla extract

1 Vanilla bean, seeds scraped

525 grams (3 1/2 cups) Self-raising flour (You may not need it all)

1/2 teaspoon Maldon salt

Zest of 1 lemon

2 Large eggs


1. In a small saucepan heat the milk to 100F. Add this to the bowl of an electric mixer fixed with a paddle attachment and sprinkle of the yeast. Leave until frothy.

2. Add the butter, sugar, vanilla extract, seeds from the vanilla pod and 150 grams (1 cup) of flour and mix for 1 minute. Add the salt, lemon zest, eggs and gradually add the remaining flour until a dough starts to form. Don’t add all the flour if you don’t need, just add enough and stop when the you have a soft, yet sticky dough.

3. Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface dusted with a little flour and knead your dough until the dough is stretchy in texture. This should take around 5 minutes.

4. Place your ball of dough into a medium size bowl and coat the top of the dough with a little vegetable oil, turn the dough over in the bowl so the top is now at the bottom of your bowl and coat with a little vegetable oil again. Cover with cling film and a tea towel and leave in a warm place so it can rise. Leave for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

Meanwhile you can make your lemony filling.



200 grams (1 cup) Vanilla scented caster sugar

Zest of 2 lemons

Juice of 1 lemon (You may not need it all)

45 grams (3 tablespoons) Unsalted butter, very soft


1. Add the sugar to a small bowl followed by the lemon zest and using your finger tips, gently rub both ingredients together until fragrant. Add the lemon juice and little bit at a time until you have a thick, sand like consistency. It’s now ready to go onto your dough.

The following method is for how to assemble to the lemon and vanilla bean swirls.

1. Butter a baking tin measuring 13 x 9 inches and set to one side. Tip your risen dough onto a clean work surface dusted with a little flour and roll out using a rolling-pin into a thick rectangle about 10 x 15 inches. Spread your butter onto your dough, leaving a 1 inch border around the edges. Next spread your filling onto the butter, spreading out evenly.

2. Start rolling your dough up, pulling the edges of the dough inwards and pulling tightly so that the lemon filling doesn’t escape. You’ll end up with a long log. Cut your dough into 12 even size rolls, squeezing one end whilst cutting to keep the filling in. Place each roll in your baking tin, cut side up. Cover with cling film and tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for 1 hour or place in the fridge overnight. If your leaving your rolls in the fridge overnight, when you take them out, leave them for 1 hour to rise and come to room temperature.

3. Ten minutes before your ready to bake your rolls pre-heat your oven to 170C,150C(Fan),350F. Place them in the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes of until golden brown. Place on a wire rack and cool for 15 minutes.

Make your glaze whilst they are cooling.


150 grams (1 cup) Icing sugar, sifted

3 tablespoons lemon juice

Zest of 1 lemon


1. Sift the icing sugar into a medium bowl, and add the lemon juice. Whisk together until you have a thick runny icing.

To finish of your rolls remove them from the baking tin and drizzle your lemon glaze over each one, then grate over the lemon zest. These are best served whilst warm.

*Recipe adapted from The Kitchn website*


* They will last for up to 2 days in a cake tin with a tight-fitting lid. Keep away from direct sunlight in a cool, dry place.

Head on over to Roxana’s Home Baking where I’ve entered this recipe in her fabulous monthly feature, baked with love.

Head on over to Taste and Tell for Taste and Tell Thursdays and to Tidy Mom for I’m lovin it

11 thoughts on “Lemon and Vanilla Bean Swirls

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