Strawberry Sourdough Rolls

There’s something special about strawberries when they are fresh and in season. A little brighter, a little sweeter, a little richer in color. Delicious to eat plain but absolutely incredible if you make them the star of a baked good, like these strawberry sourdough rolls. Strawberries standout in these soft and tender sourdough rolls with fresh strawberry rolled up in the dough and spooned across the top of the roll – my mouth is watering just thinking about them! Soft, sweet and full of spring flavors, you’ve got to try these strawberry sourdough rolls.

Why You’ll Love Strawberry Sourdough Rolls

You will love the sweet strawberry flavor that is throughout these rolls. From fresh strawberry to freeze dried strawberry, every bite is a pop of strawberry flavor. They are easy to mix – just require some rising time and are 100% sourdough, giving you delicious rolls that are easy to digest thanks to the sourdough fermentation process. Kids and adults both love these strawberry sourdough rolls, and I know you will love them too!

Sourdough Baker’s Timeline

A sample baking schedule helps me when baking with sourdough. Sourdough takes much longer to rise than commercial yeast breads. This schedule helps me plan my bake.

A few notes: This schedule assumes the dough temperature is 78-80º F throughout the process. If you’d like to make sourdough strawberry rolls all on the same day, skip the cold bulk fermentation and go straight to shaping the strawberry rolls (you will still need to make the levain the night before and let it rise overnight). Check out the recipe notes for more make-ahead options.

Day 1Levain
8 PM – 8 AMMake Stiff Sweet Levain. Let rise overnight.
Day 2Mixing/Bulk Fermentation
8 AMMix Dough
8:15 AMBegin Bulk Fermentation at 78-80ºF
12:15 PMEnd Bulk Fermentation
Option 1: Refrigerate dough for 12-24 hours and shape rolls the next morning
Option 2: Shape Rolls and continue with the recipe
See recipe notes section for more ideas on making ahead and baking in the morning
12:15 PM – 7:00 AMCold Bulk Fermentation
Day 3Shaping/Baking
7:00 AMShape Sourdough Strawberry Rolls
Rise in a warm (80-85ºF) place for 3-4 hours until puffed up and touching. Do not bake unless dough has puffed up and risen.
10:00 AMBake
10:30 AMFrost and top. Serve warm.

Important Ingredients

  • Sourdough Starter: Use a ripe & active sourdough starter to make a stiff sweet levain. This is what will leaven your strawberry sourdough rolls instead of commercial yeast.
  • Strawberry Roll Dough: This strawberry roll dough is based on my favorite sourdough cinnamon rolls. Use bread flour, whole milk, eggs, sugar, salt and a stiff sweet levain.
  • Freeze Dried Strawberries: Freeze-dried strawberries are crushed and mixed with sugar, butter and flour to make the sweet strawberry filling for these rolls.
  • Strawberries: Fresh strawberries are used inside the strawberry rolls and in a mixture of diced fresh strawberries and sugar which is put on top of each strawberry roll for that extra sweet strawberry flavor.
  • Cream Cheese Frosting: Cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, heavy cream, vanilla and a little salt are whipped together to creamy perfection. Make it a drizzle or a dollop on top of each strawberry sourdough roll.

How to Make Strawberry Sourdough Rolls

Make Stiff Sweet Levain

I use a stiff sweet levain for enriched breads like this cinnamon sugar babka or these sourdough cinnamon rolls. A stiff levain is a levain that mixes up to a firm consistency and is anywhere from 50%-65% hydration. It adds elasticity to dough and helps temper the acid in the sourdough, which gives all the benefit of sourdough fermentation without the tang. The sugar in the levain helps counteract the acidity and creates a more mild flavor. To make a stiff sweet levain:

  • Use 100% hydration sourdough starter at its peak
  • Add 10 grams of ripe sourdough starter to 50 grams of all-purpose flour, 25 grams of water and 10 grams of sugar. Mix together.
  • A stiff starter will be a little more difficult to mix together, because it forms a dough ball instead of a batter. Knead the ball of dough a few times until smooth.
  • Place the stiff sweet levain in a liquid measuring cup and set in a warm (76-78ºF) spot for 10-12 hours.
  • Stiff Sweet Levain is ready to use when it has doubled in size and has a rounded top. Using it right when it reaches its peak will help decrease the acidity in the dough.

Mixing the Dough

I use a stand mixer to mix this dough. If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can use your hands to knead the dough, though it will take longer. Add all the dough ingredients to the mixer and fit it with a dough hook. Reserve a little bit of the flour to add toward the end of mixing the dough as needed. Weight measurements are always more accurate than volume, but I always like to reserve a bit of flour (about a half cup) so I don’t over-flour my dough. Varieties of flour and weight of eggs can impact the amount of flour added to dough, so I play it safe.

Mix the dough on low speed for about 3-5 minutes. Add the reserved flour as needed. The dough should be tacky, not overly sticky. Continue kneading about 5 more minutes until smooth, elastic and it passes the windowpane test. Place in a container or bowl for bulk fermentation.

Bulk Fermentation

Put the dough in a container and cover it. The entire bulk fermentation should take about 4 hours at 78-80ºF. Take the temperature of the dough, it should be between 78-80ºF. If your dough is significantly colder, bulk fermentation will take longer. If it’s warmer, the bulk fermentation will be a bit shorter, however wild yeast perform best in the 78°F range, so do your best to keep the dough in that range. I use a dough proofer or the inside of my oven with the light turned on (don’t turn the oven on!) to keep my dough warm. Let the dough sit for 4 hours in that warm place. By the end of 4 hours it should have puffed up and risen just a little.

Cold Fermentation and Other Options

After the initial 4 hour bulk fermentation is finished, my favorite way to make these rolls is to put the covered container in the refrigerator overnight. This allows me to shape the rolls and let them rise the following morning (usually 3-4 hours rise time). If you want to make them all in the same day, that works too. Just skip the cold bulk fermentation and proceed with the rest of the recipe (you will still need to mix the levain the night before and let it rise overnight). When you’re ready to shape the strawberry rolls, pull the dough out of the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for a few minutes while you prepare the strawberry roll filling.

A few other alternatives if you want your strawberry rolls in the morning:

  1. Mix the dough in the early evening. Let it rise for 4 hours, keeping the dough temperature around 78ºF. Shape the rolls and let them rise overnight (about 8 hours) at 76ºF. If you shape them at 10:00 PM and keep them at these temperatures they should be ready around 6:00 AM to bake. If your dough is warmer, they may overproof and have a more sour flavor.
  2. Make the rolls all the way through the recipe, shaping and letting them rise. Before they are just about risen, place the rolls in the refrigerator. Let them cold ferment in the refrigerator overnight. When you pull the strawberry rolls out of the fridge, notice how much they have risen. Let them rise a little more if needed and come to room temperature. Rolls should be puffy, doubled and fluffy before baking. A little liquid may seep out of the bottom of the rolls, but will be fine once they are baked.

Strawberry Sourdough Roll Filling

Strawberry Filling: Crush freeze-dried strawberries into a very fine powder. I roll a rolling pin over the bag of strawberries, crushing them finely before using. Mix together freeze-dried strawberry powder with granulated sugar, very soft (almost melted) butter and a little bit of flour until it forms a thick paste.

Diced Strawberries: Dice or finely chop strawberries until you have about 2 cups worth. Take the first 150 grams of strawberries and mix with 20 grams of granulated sugar. Cover and set aside for topping the strawberry rolls after they are baked. The second 150 grams of strawberries will be added on top of the strawberry sourdough rolls before they are rolled up.

Shaping and Proofing Strawberry Rolls

Shaping: This recipe makes 8 strawberry rolls. Prepare a 9 by 13 pan with parchment paper or use a non-stick pan. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured countertop or pastry mat about 16 by 12 inches. Spread the strawberry filling all over the dough. Sprinkle 150 grams diced strawberries over the filling. Starting with the dough closest to you, roll up the strawberry rolls and pinch together the seam. Flip the roll over, seam side down. Cut the long log of strawberry roll dough into 8 equal pieces. Place the rolls in the baking pan, nestling them in together if needed.

Proofing: Strawberry sourdough rolls are made with 100% sourdough starter, so they are going to take a much longer time to rise than a roll made with commercial yeast. They also require a warm environment to get the rise they need in a 3-4 hour time period. Cover the rolls and place them in a warm spot (oven with the light turned on is my go-to). Let them rise for about 3-4 hours until puffed up and airy. Do NOT bake these rolls if they haven’t risen and feel dense. They will feel light and airy and should have risen to touch each other in the pan before baking.

Baking Strawberry Sourdough Rolls

Preheat the oven to 350ºF (make sure you take the risen strawberry rolls out if you are using your oven as a proofing box). Bake the rolls for about 30 minutes if the rolls are nestled and touching each other. Ovens do all bake differently. Some ovens bake hotter in the back and cooler in the front. If you want an even bake on your rolls, rotate your pan 180º after the first ten minutes of baking. This will keep half of your rolls from getting too dark or the other half being too light. Check the center of one of the strawberry sourdough rolls after baking to make sure that the middle isn’t raw. Sometimes you need to let them go a minute or two longer to make sure they are completely baked through.

Frosting and Topping the Rolls

Whip together the frosting ingredients until a smooth and thick, creamy frosting comes together. Set aside until the rolls have baked. After the strawberry sourdough rolls come out of the oven, top with creamy frosting and a Tablespoon or two of the reserved macerated (sugared) strawberries from the fridge. Enjoy!

Amy’s Recipe Tip

If you want to serve theses strawberry sourdough rolls in the morning without doing any extra work, let the rolls rise until just about fully proofed. Cover them and stick them in the refrigerator. The next morning, pull them out of the refrigerator let them come to room temperature and bake.

Substitutions

  • Stiff Sweet Levain: I much prefer using this for these strawberry rolls, but if you want to substitute regular ripe, active sourdough starter that can also work. Use the same amount of levain called for in the recipe. You will need to add a little extra flour to the dough to compensate.
  • Whole Milk: You can substitute 2% milk if needed in this recipe. Whole milk gives added richness to the dough, so I like to use it when possible.
  • If you want to substitute the strawberry and make regular cinnamon rolls instead, find that sourdough recipe here.

How to Store Leftovers

Place any leftover strawberry rolls in a ziplock bag and store them in the freezer. When you want one, take one out of the freezer and warm up in the microwave for about 30-60 seconds and enjoy.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What pan should I use for these rolls? Can I use a pie pan?

I make these strawberry sourdough rolls in a 9 by 13 pan. This gives enough room for the rolls to rise but they are still touching. You could cut these rolls a little smaller, into 10-12 pieces and place them on a baking sheet or in a pie pan to bake. Rolls that are touching will take a little longer to bake completely through.

My strawberry rolls didn’t rise and were very dense. What happened?

Make sure you use your starter and levain when they are ripe and activeTemperature also has a large impact on how long it takes for sourdough to rise. Keep your rolls warm during the proofing process, 80-85ºF should get them rising well. If you bake them too soon when they have not risen, they will be dense.

How can I tell when the strawberry sourdough rolls are finished baking?

Strawberry sourdough rolls are finished baking when they register around 190ºF. I like to find the biggest roll and gently pick up the center of the roll, checking to see if it is baked all the way through. It is easy to cover it back up with frosting, so no one knows that I checked it.

Strawberry Sourdough Rolls

Amy
Sweet strawberry rolls, filled with fresh strawberry filling and topped with cream cheese icing and fresh strawberries, these sweet strawberry rolls are incredible. You will love serving these for breakfast or a special brunch. They are sure to become a family favorite. Enjoy!!
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 30 minutes
Fermentation Time 1 day 13 hours
Total Time 1 day 14 hours 30 minutes
Course Breakfast
Cuisine American
Servings 8 rolls

Ingredients
  

Sweet Stiff Levain

  • 10 grams sourdough starter ripe & active
  • 10 grams granulated sugar
  • 50 grams all-purpose or bread flour
  • 25 grams water

Strawberry Sourdough Roll Dough

  • 90 grams levain all of it, see recipe notes
  • 220 grams whole milk warmed, about 3/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons
  • 56 grams unsalted butter melted, about 1/4 cup
  • 58 grams granulated sugar about 1/4 cup
  • 1 large egg
  • 6 grams salt about 1 teaspoon
  • 475 grams bread flour about 3-4 cups

Strawberry Roll Filling

  • 56 grams unsalted butter, very soft 4 Tablespoons
  • 85 grams granulated sugar about 1/2 cup
  • 10 grams freeze-dried strawberries, crushed about 2 Tablespoons
  • 6 grams all-purpose or bread flour about 1/2 Tablespoon
  • 150 grams strawberries, diced about 1 cup

Strawberry Roll Frosting

  • 56 grams unsalted butter 4 Tablespoons
  • 30 grams cream cheese about 2 Tablespoons
  • 125 grams powdered sugar about 1 cup
  • 15 grams heavy cream about 1 Tablespoon
  • 3 grams vanilla extract about 1/2 teaspoon
  • pinch of salt to taste

Strawberry Topping

  • 150 grams strawberries, diced about 1 cup
  • 20 grams granulated sugar more or less depending on how sweet you like your berries

Instructions
 

Mix Levain (10-12 hours, overnight at 78ºF)

  • Mix together ripe sourdough starter, all-purpose flour, granulated sugar and water. Knead the levain until it forms a cohesive ball. Set in a liquid measuring cup and cover for 10-12 hours until the levain has doubled in size and the top is rounded.

Strawberry Sourdough Rolls

  • Mix Dough: Warm the milk in the microwave (about 1 1/2 minutes full power) or on the stove. It should be around 90-100ºF, no warmer than that. To the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook, add the ripe levain, warmed milk and melted butter. Add the sugar, egg, salt and most of the bread flour. Turn on the dough hook and knead for a few minutes. Add the remainder of the bread flour as needed. The dough should be tacky, not overly sticky and should all cling to one side of the bowl (or away from the edges depending on your mixer). Knead for a total of 8-10 minutes until the dough is smooth. If mixing by hand, knead for 10-15 minutes.
  • Bulk Fermentation: Put the dough in a container and cover. Set the dough in a warm, 78-80ºF place for 4 hours. Take the temperature of the dough as needed to make sure the dough temperature stays right around 78-80ºF. This temperature is optimal for fermentation.
  • At the end of about 4 hours, the dough should be puffed up and feel very elastic. If it doesn't feel this way, let it bulk ferment for another half hour and check again.
  • Overnight Refrigeration: At this point, after the bulk fermentation has finished, cover the dough and put it in the refrigerator. Proceed with the recipe the next day, shaping and proofing the rolls before baking. This allows you to time the rolls for breakfast or brunch if desired. If you prefer to shape the rolls and bake them the same day, skip the overnight refrigeration and proceed with the recipe or see the recipe notes for other make-ahead options.
  • Mix up the Filling: Use a rolling pin to crush the freeze-dried strawberries into a fairly fine powder. To a small bowl, add the melted or very soft butter, granulated sugar, freeze-dried strawberries and flour. Mix together until it forms a thick paste. Set aside.
  • Prepare Strawberries: Wash and dice strawberries until you have about 300 grams worth. Take half of the diced strawberries, about 150 grams worth, and place in a small bowl. Add 20 grams of granulated sugar and mix together. Cover and refrigerate for after the rolls are baked. The remaining 150 grams of strawberries will be sprinkled on top of the strawberry rolls before being rolled up.
  • Shaping: Prepare 9 by 13 pan with parchment paper or use a non-stick pan. Roll the dough out into an approximate 16 by 12 rectangle. Spread the strawberry filling all over the dough with your fingers, making sure to spread right to the edges of the dough. Sprinkle diced strawberries over the dough. Starting with the dough closest to you, roll up the strawberry rolls and pinch together the seam. Flip the roll over, seam side down. Cut the long log of strawberry roll dough into 8 equal pieces. Place the rolls in the baking pan with two in the middle of the pan and three on each side of the pan, snuggling all 8 rolls together.
  • Proofing: Cover the pan and let rise in an 80-85ºF place until puffed up and risen, about 3-4 hours. Do not bake these rolls if they have not risen.
  • Baking: Pre-heat the oven to 350ºF. Bake for about 28-30 minutes until baked all the way through.
  • Cream Cheese Frosting: Using a hand mixer, whip together softened butter and cream cheese. Add the powdered sugar, heavy whipping cream, vanilla extract, and salt. Whip together for 2-3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. The frosting should be light and fluffy.
  • Spread frosting over the tops of the strawberry rolls while they are still warm. Take the sugared strawberries from the fridge and top each strawberry roll with about 2 Tablespoons of strawberries. Enjoy!

Notes

Levain: Use all of the stiff sweet levain in this recipe. It may be a bit under or a bit over 90 grams, this is normal depending at what point during the fermentation cycle you use the levain. 
Milk: Whole milk is best if you have it, but 2% also works well, warmed.
Freeze-dried strawberries: Using crushed freeze-dried strawberries gives these rolls sweet strawberry flavor. Crush them into a fine powder before using.
Bread Flour: I always think it’s wise to use the best possible flour for a great product. Bread flour creates dough with more elasticity thanks to the higher protein content, and I prefer the texture of strawberry rolls made with bread flour. If you don’t have bread flour, you can use all-purpose flour and substitute some vital wheat gluten to increase the protein content of the flour.
Make-Ahead Options: Typically I shape the rolls the morning I want to bake them and let them rise so we enjoy them for a later brunch. If you want to bake them right when you wake up, you have a few options. These options really depend on the TEMPERATURE of your dough and managing fermentation for them to work well. 
  1. Mix the dough in the early evening. Let it rise for 4 hours, keeping the dough temperature around 78ºF. Shape the rolls and let them rise overnight (about 8 hours) at 76ºF. If you shape them at 10:00 PM and keep them at these temperatures they should be ready around 6:00 AM to bake. If your dough is warmer, they may overproof and have a more sour flavor.
  2. Make the rolls all the way through the recipe, shaping and letting them rise. Before they are just about risen, place the rolls in the refrigerator. Let them cold ferment in the refrigerator overnight. When you pull the strawberry rolls out of the fridge, notice how much they have risen. Let them rise a little more if needed and come to room temperature. Rolls should be puffy, doubled and fluffy before baking. A little liquid may seep out of the bottom of the rolls, but will be fine once they are baked.
Keyword homemade strawberry rolls, strawberry rolls, strawberry sourdough cinnamon rolls, strawberry sourdough rolls
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