Saffron & Nigella Seed Rolls
3 hours 25 minutes
"In this recipe, a pinch of Afghan saffron threads are infused into warm milk and honey, adding a rich buttery hue and distinctive floral scent to this yeasty dinner roll. Before baking, the fluffy rolls are sprinkled with nigella seeds, which add an irresistible crunch and a surprising savory finish."
Excerpted from More Than Cake, by Natasha Pickowicz (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2023. Photographs by Graydon Herriot.
In a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the honey, warmed milk and saffron. Sprinkle the yeast on and let sit for a minute, until foamy. On medium-low speed, add one of the eggs plus a yolk, the flour, and salt and mix until a stiff ball of dough forms around the hook, 5 to 7 minutes. On low speed, add the cubed butter piece by piece, beating until it is incorporated and the dough looks smooth, 4 to 5 minutes. Scrape the bowl occasionally with a spatula to ensure that the ingredients are incorporated.
Transfer the dough to a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm area until doubled in size, about 1½ hours. (Alternatively, the dough can be chilled for 1 to 3 days before the shaping, final proof, and bake.)
Mist a 9” square baking dish with cooking spray and sprinkle some nigella seed on the sides and bottom. Turn the dough out onto the counter, divide into 9 pieces. Cup your hand into a claw position and roll each piece together on the work surface until a smooth ball has formed. Transfer the balls to the prepared baking tray in rows of 3. (The shaped balls can also be refrigerated overnight, and then pulled out the next day to complete their second rise and bake.) Drape a piece of plastic wrap on top and let proof until the dough feels tender and buoyant to the touch, like a balloon, about 1½ hours.
About 30 minutes before the buns have completed their second rise, preheat the oven to 350 °F.
Whisk up the remaining egg white and brush generously on the buns. Sprinkle the remaining nigella seeds on top. Bake until the buns are golden and feel hollow to the touch, 22 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the buns cool briefly, then eat.
Recipe by Natasha Pickowicz, adapted from the buttered cucumber sliders in More Than Cake.