top of page

Cooking Through Fiction: Snicket’s Lemony Blueberry Sweet Rolls

What makes a great friend? Someone who is there for you when you need a person to listen to you ask thousands of questions during TV shows (I’m not saying this is me, but this is me.)? Someone who brings you chicken noodle soup when you’re sick? Or someone who doesn’t laugh when you trip over your own feet (Does this person exist?)?

In Snicket’s second novel in the series All the Wrong Questions, Snicket would likely say a friend does these two things: 1) looks for you when you are missing, and 2) gives you a cinnamon roll fresh from the oven. I have to say, these are two fantastic qualities in a friend.

In When Did You See Her Last?, Snicket is on the hunt for a missing girl, who turns out to be another missing girl, whom he may or may not have a crush on. There are a lot of questions asked during the course of this book’s pages, and there are not enough answers. But what I do know is that if I’m lost, I’d like someone to look for me; I’d like a fresh cinnamon roll (or equivalent tasty treat) fresh from the oven; and I need to know why Fruity Pebbles leave that weird film on your teeth after you’ve eaten three bowls (Not that I’ve ever eaten three bowls…).

“The sunlight streamed in through some big, clean windows. It smelled of cinnamon, a much better scent than what I had been smelling, and either Zada or Zora hurried to the oven and pulled out a tray of cinnamon rolls that made me ache for a proper breakfast. One of the aproned women put one on a plate for me while it was still steaming. Anyone who gives you a cinnamon roll fresh from the oven is a friend for life.” (Snicket, Lemony. When Did You See Her Last? Little, Brown and Company, New York: 2013, 24)

Snicket’s Lemony Blueberry Sweet Rolls

Serves: 12 rolls

Difficulty Level: Average, Patience Required


For the Dough:

2 c whole milk

½ c sugar

½ c canola oil

1 pkg active dry yeast, 0.25 oz packets

4 c all-purpose flour

½ c (additional) all-purpose flour

½ tbsp (heaping) salt

½ tsp (scant) baking soda

½ tsp (heaping) baking powder

For the Filling:

1 stick butter

½ c sugar

1 whole lemon, zested

1 c (heaping) fresh blueberries

For the Glaze:

½ whole lemon, juiced

1 whole lemon, zested

1 ½ c powdered sugar

1 c whole milk, or as needed

1 dash salt

1 ½ tbsp melted butter

How to Make

For the Dough:

  1. Mix milk, ½ cup of sugar, and canola oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Heat over medium heat until very warm but not boiling.

  2. Remove from heat and allow to cool until warmer than lukewarm but not hot.

  3. Sprinkle yeast over the surface of the liquid, then add in 4 cups flour. Stir gently until totally combined. Mixture will be very wet and sticky. Cover with a tea towel, keep in a draft-free place, and allow to sit for 1 hour.

  4. After 1 hour, add in an additional ½ cup of flour, as well as the salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Mix until combined.

  5. Refrigerate dough, covered, until you need it. (Refrigerating the dough helps make it easier to handle.)

  6. Preheat oven to 375 F. Butter a large baking dish (or a couple of smaller dishes) generously. You could use a 9x13 or two 9-inch pie pans.

  7. Melt 1 stick of butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once melted remove from heat.

  8. Turn the dough onto a floured surface. Roll into a large rectangle, about 30 inches wide by 10 inches deep. Roll as thin as possible! Drizzle melted butter over the dough, using your fingers to spread evenly.

For the Filling:

  1. Using your fingers, mix sugar and lemon zest so that it’s a nice, light yellow sugar. Sprinkle it all over the butter.

  2. Sprinkle the blueberries evenly over the surface.

  3. Beginning at the side farthest from you, roll dough toward you until it’s in the shape of a tight log. Tuck as you go so the roll stays tight. Pinch the edges to seal the seam shut.

  4. With a sharp knife, slice into ½ thick thick rolls and lay the slices, cut side down, into the buttered baking dishes. Allow to rise for 20 minutes, then place in oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until deep golden brown on top.

For the Glaze:

  1. Add lemon juice, lemon zest, powdered sugar, milk, and dash of salt in a bowl. Add melted butter and whisk together until smooth. Taste it and add more of whatever it needs.

  2. Remove rolls from oven, and drizzle the glaze all over the rolls. Be sure to get it all around the edges and covering the surface so they’ll be nice and gooey!

  3. Serve warm or at room temperature.

bottom of page