Spice Roll

This recipe comes from The Settlement Cookbook, first published in 1901. The book was initially created as a charity cookbook to raise funds for the Jewish Settlement House in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and was so successful that the proceeds of the first two editions were enough to purchase a site for the new Settlement House. The cookbook presents a variety of recipes influenced by German, Eastern European, and Jewish cooking, reflecting the culinary traditions of the immigrants served by the Settlement House.

I chose to make this recipe for a Spice Roll because the filling uses up stale gingerbread or Lebkuchen – and after making a large batch of Lebkuchen for the holidays, I had plenty to spare! I adapted the recipe to use active dry yeast instead of compressed yeast, but otherwise followed the original directions.

Spice Roll:

Dough:

  • 1 cup scalded milk, divided
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup sugar plus 1 tsp, divided
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 1/4 to 3 cups flour
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
  1. To make the dough: put the softened butter, 1/4 cup sugar, nutmeg, and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Scald the 1 cup milk in a saucepan. Pour 1/2 cup into the bowl with the butter and sugar and the remaining 1/2 cup into a measuring cup or small bowl.
  3. When the milk has cooled slightly, add the yeast and 1 tsp sugar to the measuring cup with the 1/2 cup of milk. Stir to combine and set aside for a few minutes until the yeast is foamy.
  4. Add the beaten egg yolk to the butter mixture. Stir in the yeast mixture.
  5. Gradually add the flour until the mixture forms a dough stiff enough to knead; you may not need all the flour.
  6. Turn out the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, 10-15 minutes.
  7. Place the ball of dough in a lightly greased or buttered bowl and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
Before the first rise…
…doubled after the first rise.

Gingerbread Filling:

  • 1 cup stale gingerbread crumbs (I used leftover Lebkuchen, but any gingerbread will work)
  • sugar to taste (1/4 cup)
  • rind of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • 1 tsp molasses
  • sprinkling of cinnamon (1/2 tsp)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup raisins (optional)
  • 1/2 cup currants (optional)
  • about 2 tbsp melted butter (for brushing)
  1. While the dough is rising, make the filling: mix the gingerbread crumbs, sugar, lemon zest, melted butter, molasses, cinnamon, and salt together in a medium bowl.
  2. Once the dough has doubled in size, turn it out on a lightly floured surface and punch it down. Roll out into a rectangle about 16 by 12 inches.
  3. Spread the dough rectangle evenly with the gingerbread filling, leaving about an inch border around the edges. Sprinkle raisins and currants over the filling if desired. The original recipe called for 1 cup each of raisins and currants, but I found that 1/2 cup of each seemed like plenty.
  4. Carefully roll up the rectangle of dough from the long side to form a long roll.
  5. Place the roll in a buttered 9-inch tube pan, overlapping the ends. Let rise again in a warm place until doubled, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  6. Brush the top of the roll with melted butter, then bake at 325 degrees for about 40-45 minutes, until golden brown on top. Carefully remove from pan and let cool on a wire rack before slicing.

Tasting notes:

The main attraction of this roll is the filling, and it does not disappoint. I loved the taste of the original Lebkuchen, but they were even better made into gingerbread filling (although my food processor blade nearly broke turning them into crumbs…a softer gingerbread might work even better). The dough, subtly spiced with nutmeg, is excellent too. I slightly overbaked my roll, so it’s a bit crusty on the outside, but even so it is still delicious. I baked my roll in a tube pan as the recipe suggested; the dough is sturdy enough, however, that I think it would also work as a free-standing roll if you don’t have a pan the right size. This would also make it easier to check the sides of the roll for browning as it bakes.

Although the original recipe doesn’t include any toppings, I’m tempted to try this with cream cheese icing; it is essentially a giant tubular cinnamon roll.

References:

Kander, L.B. (1901). The Settlement cook book. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: J.H. Yewdale & Sons Co. https://n2t.net/ark:/85335/m5k66j

Kander, Simon, Mrs. (n.d.). Michigan State University. https://d.lib.msu.edu/content/biographies?author_name=Kander%2C+Simon%2C+Mrs.

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