Y'all know that I love anything lemon, so these tender, sweet rolls are a favorite of mine for breakfast or brunch. Topped with a speckled poppy seed and lemon-cream cheese frosting, these babies are sure to be a hit with your friends and family.
Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with unsalted butter. Set aside.
For the dough: Combine the milk, butter and 1 tablespoon of the sugar in a small saucepan and heat until the butter melts and the mixture's between 105 degrees F and 115 degrees F on an instant read thermometer. Whisk in the yeast and let stand until the top is foamy, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl. Whisk in the eggs and remaining sugar and set aside. Combine the flour and kosher salt in the bowl of a heavy stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Mix on low speed until combined, about 1 minute. Turn the mixer to medium speed and add the yeast mixture. Continue to mix until the dough comes together in a ball and is smooth and no longer sticky, about 13 minutes.
Coat a large bowl with cooking spray. Transfer the dough to the bowl and cover with a kitchen towel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Punch the dough down and turn out onto a lightly floured work surface. Roll the dough out to a 20-by-12-inch rectangle with the longer side parallel to you.
For the filling: Combine the lemon zest and juice in a medium bowl. Add the granulated sugar. Use your hands to rub the zest into the sugar and lemon juice.
Spread the softened stick of butter evenly over the dough. Sprinkle the lemon-sugar mixture evenly over the butter.
Starting at the bottom, tightly roll the dough up into a long log. Cut the log into 15 (about 1-1/2 inches-wide) crosswise pieces with a serrated knife or dental floss. Arrange the rolls cut-side-up in the prepared baking dish. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
About 30 minutes before the second rising time is done, adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Once ready, uncover the rolls and bake until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes.
While the rolls bake, make the frosting: Beat the butter and cream cheese with the paddle attachment in the bowl of a stand mixer until fluffy and smooth. Add the lemon juice and vanilla. Sift the powdered sugar into the bowl, add the salt and beat until combined. Add the poppy seeds, and beat until smooth, about 10 seconds. While the rolls are still warm, spread the tops with the frosting. Serve warm (see Cook’s Note).
Remove the rolls from the pan when they are slightly warm; cold or room temperature rolls stick to the pan. (The melted sugar hardens as it cools.)
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