If you’re still wondering what to have for Christmas morning, then you need to keep reading. These rolls are soft, not too sweet, and a classic holiday flavor that’s not peppermint or gingerbread. Yes, I still love peppermint and gingerbread but that sounds pretty nasty for a sweet roll, am I right? Plus, you can make these all year round and not have to explain to people why you are baking gingerbread in July. I love, love, love sweet rolls but can’t stand to have a whole pan in my house. With just me. Because then I eat them, and nobody needs a whole pan of sweet rolls no matter how good they are. So I’ve been playing around with what to make for Christmas morning and finally decided on egg nog french toast bake. BUT, I decided to whip these bad boys up for a 2 year old’s birthday party which I am attending tomorrow afternoon. No, these rolls are not for the 2 year old, they are for everybody else.
I have always had a really hard time with dough. I tried many times in college, and failed miserably each time. After a while, I decided that sleeping was better than wasting my time and flour, so I stuck to things that didn’t have to rise. Last Mother’s Day however, I promised my boyfriend’s family sticky pecan rolls because those are his mom’s favorite and the pressure was on. I have this way of over promising and sometimes under delivering when I try new recipes for the first time. I like to look at a few, tweak here and there to my pleasing, and then pray that they work out. THANKFULLY, these ones turned out pretty good and I thought, “Hey, maybe this dough thing’s not too bad”.
So – these rolls magically appeared for a few reasons.
1. I woke up early to work out. Decided to work out later tonight because I wanted to sleep in. Tried to sleep later and couldn’t but had missed my class and decided my time would be better spent prepping dough than laying in the dark scrolling through my favorite DIY home blogger’s site. Okay, so maybe that last part about the blog scrolling isn’t true, but who wants to lay in the dark when you are WIIIIIDE awake.
2. I made some coffee and realized I had too much time before I needed to leave for my car appointment (adult-ing sucks) and thought about what to do with the cranberries and oranges sitting in my fridge. I considered scones and then realized I love scones but what I really love is cinnamon rolls.
3. Making cinnamon rolls doesn’t really solve my problem about having too many oranges and cranberries though, now does it? Therefore, these cranberry orange sweet rolls were born.
There’s a few things you’ll want to keep in mind for this recipe, like the fact that you’ll need to let the dough rise for like… ahh, 3 hours. Additionally, if there is any doubt in your mind that your yeast is old – throw it out. Spending $1 on those yeast packets is definitely worth the hassle. If you bake yeast breads a lot, sure – then buy the jar. If you are baking yeast breads once or twice a month, then it’s just as yeast to buy the packets. Lastly, you can sub the cranberries for another fruit if you’re not into that. Blueberry/lemon would be a deeeeelicious flavor swap for cranberry/orange. Just keep the ratios of ingredients the same and you don’t have to worry about it. I would recommend chopping the fruit or pulsing a few less times than if using cranberries because it can get a bit juicy and soggy when you go to roll the dough. Got all that?
See here how the rolls are a bit bigger than the image above? This is what they should look life after rising for a second time.
You can also make these rolls the day before. If you’re making these for breakfast, I would highly recommend letting the dough rise overnight so they are ready to eat in the morning. This recipe calls for two separate rises, which is why it takes a little bit longer. The first rise is just the dough, and the second is after you have rolled it with the filling. While the second rise only requires an hour, you can let it sit overnight in the fridge if desired so they are ready to slide in the oven first thing when you wake up. If you would rather bake them the day before, feel free to cover them with tin foil and pop them in the oven for a few minutes to warm them up before serving.
I even managed to make a single serving for myself so I could eat one today… I hate waiting.
Cranberry Orange Sweet Rolls
Servings: 1 dozen rolls
Time: 4 hours 30 minutes
- 1 1/2 TBSP dry active yeast (2 packets)
- 1 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk (I usually keep soy in the fridge)
- 1/2 cup vegan butter (I typically use Earth Balance since you can find it most places now)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 4 cups flour
- 3 cups fresh cranberries
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 TBSP cornstarch
- 3 TBSP orange zest (about one orange worth
- 1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup orange juice (about one medium orange worth)
- 2 TBSP orange zest (optional)
- Warm milk and butter in a saucepan over LOW heat. You want the mixture to be warm but not too hot. You should be able to easily dip your finger it in. If it is too warm, it will kill your yeast so be careful. Once the butter has melted, add it to a mixing bowl with the dough hook attachment. You may also use a hand held mixture.
- By hand, stir in the sugar and yeast. After they are mixed in, cover the bowl with a dish towel and let sit for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, the mixture should have bubbled up and look foamy. This indicates that the yeast is active and you can continue. If the mixture has not bubbled up, start over with new yeast and be careful not to over heat the milk.
- Add the salt and mix in. Add the flour slowly with the mixer on low. Once all the flour is added, continue mixing until a dough begins to form. Mix on high for an additional 5 minutes until is starts to pull completely away from the bowl. If you do not have a mixer, you may knead the dough by hand instead.
- After the dough has pulled away from the bowl, knead by hand for 1-2 minutes on a lightly floured surface. Place the dough in a lightly greased bow, cover with a dish towel, l and let rise for 2 hours in a warm, dry place. If it’s not relatively warm in your house, you can place the bowl in the oven with the light on. I tend to get good results with this approach, especially since it’s not always the warmest in Minnesota.
- For the filling – pulse cranberries in a blender or food processor a couple times until they have been broken up but NOT solidified. You should have about a cup and a half of chunky cranberries. Transfer to a sauce pan and heat on medium heat for about 5 minutes, mixing every minute or so. After some residual liquid starts to form, add the sugar and cornstarch and mix thoroughly. Heat for an additional 2 minutes and transfer to a separate bowl. After the mixture has cooled for 10 minutes, cover and place in the fridge for the remaining time that the dough is rising. DO NOT put warm filling on your dough or you will get a sloppy, disgusting mess.
- After a few hours, your dough should have roughly doubled in size. Remove dough from the bowl and roll out evenly on a lightly floured surface. You want the dough about 1/4″ thick in all areas and somewhat rectangular. The more even the dough is, the easier it will be to roll. Remove the filling from the fridge and spread over the entire dough surface. Next, roll the dough somewhat tightly so that it is easy to handle.
- After you have rolled the dough, cut 1 1/2 – 2″ slices and place in a greased baking dish – either a 9×9 or 9×13. I would recommend the slightly larger size if you’ve got it because these babies will rise quite a bit. Cover with a dish towel and allow to rise for an additional 1-2 hours. THIS is where you can let your dough rise overnight in the fridge.
- Preheat oven to 375 deg F. Your rolls shouldn’t be TOO big now, but they will definitely have increased in size. Remove from fridge (if rising overnight) and place in oven for 1 hr 10 minutes, adjust for your own oven since they are all a bit different. I like to cover mine with foil for the first 30 minutes and remove towards the end to let the tops brown a little bit. Remove from the oven and let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving. If you are baking these the night before, just cover with tinfoil let them sit in the oven at 350 deg F for 10 minutes before icing.
- For the icing – mix ingredients together in a small bowl and spoon over rolls before serving. You may add some extra orange zest here to bring out the flavor if you’d like. After icing, you do not need to let your rolls cool for additional time before serving.
- If you have any leftovers, which you shouldn’t, cover tightly for up to 2 days at room temperature and 1 week in the fridge. Enjoy!
Don’t kid yourself – you need WAY more frosting than that!