Holiday Baking: Orange Rolls

mommeal time

Around our house, the holiday season is also the baking season.  Pies, cookies, tarts, and treats of all kinds get cranked out of our oven and consumed or given as gifts.  There is really nothing I love more during than starting off a special day with something warm from the oven and some hot chocolate.  To me, there isn’t anything more special to set the tone for a day of relaxation and creating family memories.

That being said, I’m not always prepared enough to have dough waiting in the fridge to make cinnamon rolls or orange rolls or even sticky buns.  This often means that if I want the warm-baked memories of the special morning to be possible, I have to get up long before everyone else – which is not very relaxing morning for me. So in an ideal world, I would have the dough ready to go and waiting in the fridge to be baked in the morning. However, in my real world, I fall back on a quick roll recipe like the one below that takes half the time of regular recipes.  It all balances out in the end.

This recipe takes the difficulty and guesswork out of working with yeast. The dough is simple to put together, so you can serve them for breakfast or as part of a holiday brunch.  Make them a little less sweet and serve them with dinner if you want. You can even leave out the orange and make them into dinner rolls or sandwiches.

So, this holiday season, start your day off with a sweet treat from the oven, perfect for everyone. We’ll be nibbling on these while decorating the house for the season.

Homemade Orange Rolls


6-7 cups bread flour

1/3 cup sugar (reduce to 4 tablespoons to make plain dinner rolls)

2 teaspoons salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

1 heaping tablespoon instant yeast

2 cups warm milk

2 large eggs

1 stick unsalted butter (8 tablespoons), softened

zest from 1 large orange (approximately 1 tablespoon) – juice the orange and set aside

4 tablespoons sugar, for sprinkling

Orange Butter Filling:

1 stick unsalted butter (8 tablespoons), melted

zest from 1 large orange

1 teaspoon pure vanilla

Whisk all the orange butter ingredients together and set aside to cool.

For the icing:

2 cups confectioners’ sugar

3-4 tablespoons fresh orange juice

½ teaspoon pure vanilla

Whisk together until very smooth, then drizzle over the warm rolls.

To make the dough:

Line two baking sheets with parchment. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together 6 cups of the flour, sugar, salt, ground nutmeg and the yeast.

In a large glass measuring cup, heat the milk to lukewarm. Whisk in the eggs.  Add the milk mixture and the butter to the mixing bowl.  Beat with a wooden spoon or in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment until well combined and smooth.  It will be a very soft dough.

Scrape the dough out onto a well-floured surface, using as much of the remaining cup of flour as needed to make a smooth, tacky, but not sticky dough.  Divide the dough in half.  Set one half aside.

On the floured countertop roll one half of the dough out into a 12-inch circle, about ½-inch thick.  Brush the circle generously with about ¼ of the melted orange butter.  Sprinkle the entire circle with 2 tablespoons of sugar.

Use a pizza cutter to cut the dough into quarters, then the quarters into thirds so that you end up with 12 equal triangles (just like you would cut a large pizza).  Roll the rolls up, starting from the large end and rolling up into a crescent shape (like a croissant).  Place the rolls with the smallest point on the bottom about 2-inches apart on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Repeat the process of rolling, brushing the dough with the butter and sprinkling with sugar.  Cut and shape the second circle and place them on the second lined baking sheet.

Use the remaining orange butter to generously brush over the tops and sides of the shapes rolls.  Set the pans aside to allow the rolls to rise for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Once the rolls have puffed a bit and the oven is heated, bake the rolls 15 to 20 minutes until golden and light.  Then bottoms will get slightly darker and some of the sugar may caramelize around the base of the roll.

Serve the rolls as is, or allow them to cool a bit before drizzling them with icing.

Makes 24 rolls.

Holly blogs at PheMOMenon and Sweet & Simple about the adventures of life with two wild little boys, one very sweet baby girl with Down syndrome, and a professional skydiver husband. To keep what sanity motherhood and marriage have left her with, she conquers her world, one recipe at a time. It’s cheaper than therapy, and much more tasty!  She is also the creator of The Hive – the blog forum for food bloggers in Utah.

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