Cranberry Orange Sweet Rolls are the quintessential winter treat! The bright citrus flavor and tart fresh cranberries combine perfectly in a soft, warm sweet roll.
My mother grew up eating homemade Orange Sweet Rolls on Christmas morning and I grew up looking forward to the same Christmas morning tradition too. I’ve continued the tradition with my own kids and we all look forward to those warm Orange Sweet Rolls every year for Christmas.
But, while I love traditions, sometimes my imagination runs away and takes me along for the ride.
It’s been well documented here on Some the Wiser that I love the flavor combination of Cranberry and Orange. That blend of sweet and tart just speaks to me. So, Mom’s Christmas Morning Orange Sweet Rolls got a little makeover.
Let me introduce you to my new favorite Christmas Morning breakfast tradition: Cranberry Orange Sweet Rolls!
I make the dough in my bread machine, so while these look like a lot of work, it’s really only about 20 minutes of hands on work. You can prepare these ahead of time (prepare them up to the baking stage and then stick them in the fridge) and bake them on Christmas morning. Honestly, there’s almost nothing better than a hot, fresh from the oven Cranberry Orange Sweet Roll!
Of course, these don’t have to be just a Christmas morning treat. They’re the perfect treat all winter long. The bright and fresh cranberry orange combination is just what any cold wintry day needs.
I don’t know how anyone else in the family is going to feel about me tampering with our long established Christmas morning breakfast tradition. That remains to be seen. And I’m well aware that this may be a one time thing because we’re nothing if not loyal to our traditions.
But I can say, with total certainty, that I’ll be making these Cranberry Orange Sweet Rolls for many winters to come. I took a pan of these to a holiday gathering earlier this week and they received high praise from everyone there! Not that I needed more confirmation than my own satisfied taste buds, but all the compliments and requests for the recipe sealed the deal. These will be making a regular appearance in my winter kitchen!
A Few Baking Notes:
These look fancy, but they really are simple to make. You can definitely roll these up like Cinnamon Rolls, but I love the look of the knots.
In my recipe for Lemon Pistachio Sweet Rolls, I sliced two long slits in the dough. You can do this or not. I baked them both ways (as you can see in the pictures above) and both turned out lovely, they just look slightly different. If you do cut slits, more of the juice seeps out during baking. This isn’t necessarily bad though because it forms this sweet sticky layer over the bottom of the sweet rolls that is absolutely delicious. Anyway, you can look at the pictures above and decide what you like best.
I love using my bread machine for sweet rolls because the dough proofs perfectly every time, but you can most definitely make these by hand or in a standing mixer.
- 2 teaspoons yeast
- 3⅓ cup all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup butter, melted
- 1 cup whole milk, slightly warmed (about 30 seconds in the microwave)
- 3 tablespoons water
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1½ cup granulated sugar
- zest of 2 medium oranges
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, very soft
- 1½ cups fresh or frozen whole cranberries, coarsely chopped in a food processor
- ¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon cold water
- (see note below)
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 4 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice (more or less for desired consistency - I like mine thick)
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- If you are making this in the bread machine: Place the yeast in the bottom of the bread machine, then add the flour, sugar, and salt. Whisk together the melted butter, slightly warmed milk, water, and egg then pour over the dry ingredients in the bread machine. Use the dough setting.
- If you are making this by hand or with a standing mixer: sprinkle the yeast over the warmed milk and let it sit for a few minutes until foamy. Stir in the butter, egg, sugar, and 1 cup of flour. Then add the salt and remaining flour, mixing as you add until completely incorporated. Knead for about 5 minutes or until the dough is smooth and soft. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, turning the dough over so all sides are greased. Cover and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled.
- While the dough is rising, mix together all the ingredients for the filling. Refrigerate until dough is ready, or for at least 30 minutes.
- Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
- To assemble the buns divide the dough into 8 equal portions for large buns (as pictured here) or 16 equal portions for smaller buns. To make them equal, I weigh the dough (it should be about 2 pounds) and then weigh each portion (about 4 oz for large buns) so they will be the same size - this is of course not strictly necessary.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll each dough portion into a flat, oblong shape (see pictures below). Spread a very generous tablespoon of the filling down the center of the dough. Roll this up.
- Optional step: Using a very sharp knife, make two slices along the length of the roll (see notes above). Gently pull this apart to expose the filling, then take an end of the roll in each hand and twist in opposite directions until the roll is completely twisted (as pictured below).
- Take the twist and tie it into a simple knot. Place on the prepared baking sheet. You will have to bake these in two batches, but I have had great success even with the different rise times.
- Cover the assembled buns with a towel and leave them to rise for about an hour, or until puffy.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
- Whisk together the egg wash and lightly brush the outside of each roll.
- Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden.
- Whisk together the glaze ingredients and drizzle over the cooked buns. These are excellent served warm!