If I could write a love song to Chai, I would. Not that I couldn’t, but I’m not a song writer. Plus it would be weird. You get the point, I love chai. Fun fact, chai just means tea. But in the US (and I think most western culture) we are referring to the spiced black tea also known as Masala chai. Also, it’s redundant to say chai tea.
I first had chai at Starbucks, which isn’t the worst chai I’ve ever had but it’s definitely not the best. My sister introduced me. So she told me to try her iced chai latte, promising me there was NO coffee taste just Christmas in a cup. I’d say that was a pretty accurate description and I was hooked.
These days I’m usually using loose leaf teas or tea sachets in my morning cup of tea. And, I’m finding ways to cram chai flavors and spices into everything I bake. While many see chai flavors as fall flavors, in my world they are acceptable and consumed in every season.
That’s why I decided to make some chai sweet rolls! Now, you’re thinking there’s cinnamon in chai so aren’t they just a cinnamon roll? Well, I like to think of them as a grown up cinnamon roll. They have a lot more nuance in the flavor and are just so warm and cozy. If you like cinnamon rolls, or you like chai I’m sure you’ll love these!
Here are some other chai bakes you might love as well:
- 500 g Bread Flour 4 cups
- 100 g Granulated Sugar ½ cup
- 8 oz Whole or 2% milk lukewarm
- 4 tbsp Unsalted butter room temperature
- 3 tsp Instant Yeast
- 1 large Egg room temperature
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 Egg yolk
- ½ cup Dark brown sugar rough amt
- 2 tsp Cinnamon
- 1 ½ tsp Cardamom
- ½ tsp Ginger
- ½ tsp Nutmeg
- ¼ tsp All-spice
- ¼ tsp Cloves
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter very soft & spreadable, not melted
- 1 cup Confectioners' sugar sifted
- 1 tsp Milk or half & half
- 2 tbsp Strongly brewed chai tea or concentrate
- Warm milk either in microwave or on stovetop. If on stovetop add butter until melted, set aside. If using microwave, melt butter and add to warmed milk.
- Combine flour, sugar and salt together in bowl of mixer and mix together. After combined, add egg, yeast, milk and butter mixture and mix with dough hook until dough comes together, no longer sticking to the sides of the bowl. Dough will still be fairly sticky and soft.
- Remove dough from bowl onto lightly dusted counter, shape into a ball and let dough rest for about 1 minute. Lightly grease mixing bowl, and add dough back into bowl. Cover and let rise until doubled in size, about 90-120 minutes depending on room temp.
- Combine all the spices together in a small bowl and mix with brown sugar
- Gently punch down the dough and transfer back to lightly floured counter top. Roll out the dough into a 16×20 rectangle. Spread a very thin layer of softened butter onto the dough.
- With the short side of the dough facing you, sprinkle/spread the brown sugar spice mix ⅔ of the way up the dough. Take the short end ⅓ of dough without filling and fold towards but a little past center, like folding a letter. Fold the filled top ⅓ over the other two layers. Press layers together, sealing the edges and gently roll dough out, working to make the dough wider rather than longer. The dough will be about ½" thick.
- Take a pastry cutter or sharp knife and cut the dough down the long side in half, then each half in half again, and repeat until you have 8 long strips. Cut any ends that are not straight off.
- Roll each piece of dough into a swirl and place onto a parchment or silicone mat lined baking sheet. The strips can also be twisted, and then rolled up similar to Swedish kanelbullar. Cover the baking sheet with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and let rise for about 45 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake the buns for 15-20 minutes on the center rack. If after 10 minutes the browning quickly, cover with foil for the remaining time. Rolls will be golden brown when ready.
- While rolls are cooking, sift 1 cup confectioners’ sugar into a bowl. If not using chai concentrate, brew a strong cup of chai. I would recommend using maybe 2 tea bags for about 3-4oz of water. Add 1 tsp milk/half & half and 2 tbsp chai to sugar and whisk until smooth and glaze consistency.
- Transfer to a wire rack when they come out of the oven and top with pearl sugar(optional). Drizzle glaze over rolls while warm and enjoy!