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Orange Cranberry Sweet Rolls

Pouring icing on fresh cinnamon rolls

We know, we know… when rolls come out of a can they’re so easy and they’re delicious. We’re not arguing with you, but sometimes life calls for an extra special homemade fluffy, warm, sweet-as-can-be, doughy roll. And when it’s made from scratch it tastes like nothing else on earth. Just the smell of the yeast and the orange emanating from the oven and wafting through your house is enough reason for you to go start making a batch of these right now. What are you waiting for?

We’ll admit there are a few steps involved in making sweet rolls from scratch, but not a single one of them is hard. And if you’re flinching because this recipe uses yeast, you can take a deep breath. Yeast is nothing to be afraid of. You mix it in some warm water, let it bloom, stir it into the dough, and then you just let it sit around while it does the rest of the work on its own. Easy as pie and so, so worth it.

Fresh orange cinnamon rolls with icing

We love working with dough; there’s a certain tranquility to kneading it and rolling it out. It’s the perfect task for a lazy Sunday morning. But, if you’re pressed for time and still looking for a special treat, you can even make these delicious rolls overnight. Simply prepare them up until the point that you place the rolls in the pan, then cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge the night before. When you’re ready to bake them the next day, remove and let rise for about an hour before baking.

We absolutely love the sweet kick of citrus and hint of cinnamon in these pillowy rolls. The cranberry adds a nice extra zing, but feel free to leave them out if you don’t have any on hand. They’ll still be plenty delicious. Unbelievably soft and doughy with a sweet filling with a hint of tartness and sugary gooey icing cascading over the top, these sweet orange rolls are everything you could want them to be. Enjoy!

Close up of icing on sweet rolls

Orange Sweet Rolls

30 minutes active, 3 hours inactive to prepare serves 12-16

Ingredients

  • For the Dough:
  • 3 1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • zest from 1 orange, finely grated
  • For the Filling:
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup orange marmalade
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries, finely chopped (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • For the Icing:
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Zest and juice from 2 oranges
  • 1/4 cup whole milk, more if needed
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Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and heavily grease a 9x13 inch baking pan.
  2. In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in 1/2 cup warm water mixed with a little of the sugar and let rest for a few minutes, until the top starts to looks foamy.
  3. Add the orange zest, orange juice, 1/4 cup sugar, salt, egg, melted butter, and 2 cups of flour. Beat on low with an electric mixer.
  4. Using a wooden spoon, mix in 1 1/2-2 (1 ½ to 2) cups more flour, just enough to make dough easy to handle and not sticky. The dough should spring back when you poke it with your finger.
  5. Knead dough on a lightly floured surface for 5 to 10 minutes, then transfer to a lightly greased bowl. Cover and let rest until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 (1.5)hours.
  6. When doubled, punch down the dough. Transfer to a floured surface, and roll out into a large rectangle, about 10x15 inches.
  7. Spread melted butter all over the dough, followed by orange marmalade, making sure both are distributed evenly.
  8. In a small bowl, stir cinnamon into brown sugar and sprinkle over marmalade. Top with dried cranberries, if using.
  9. Roll the dough towards you and cut into 12-16 even rolls (about 1 inch in width) with a sharp knife. Place slices close together in the prepared pan and let rise until dough has doubled, about 45 minutes-1 hour.
  10. Bake until puffy and nicely browned, about 30 minutes.
  11. Meanwhile, make icing. Mix together butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, and orange juice. Add milk 1 tablespoon at a time until the desired consistency is reached. Let rolls cool slightly before icing.

Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction.

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