Thursday, January 10, 2013

Cranberry-Orange Cinnamon Rolls

On the list of my favorite comfort foods, cinnamon rolls have to be near the top. Perhaps the reason goes back to my childhood, when it was a treat to discover Mom had popped open a can of Pillsbury rolls for breakfast. The aroma of cinnamon brought an immediate since of home and love to the morning and made the meal a special event. I even loved the orange variety!
So imagine my excitement when I discovered cookbook author Judith Fertig had written a book titled I Love Cinnamon Rolls!  Its pages are filled with every kind of roll you can think of, and some you probably never considered. I interviewed her for a Topeka Capital-Journal food article and she offered some great tips about making cinnamon rolls, plus the reason why she felt compelled to write the book in the first place. (You can read the article here.)
By the way, if anyone knows the reason why schools and organizations in Kansas always serve cinnamon rolls with chili in lunchrooms and for fund-raising chili feeds, please let me know…I’m curious about that kind of stuff.
Of course, I had to try one of the recipes for myself. Since it was holiday time, I picked the one for cranberry-orange cinnamon rolls. I took one batch to a brunch and another home to my family in Missouri.
The rolls were a hit! First of all, Fertig’s No-Knead Cinnamon Roll Dough is the easiest one I’ve ever worked with when making cinnamon rolls. (And regular readers know I’ve struggled with making cinnamon rolls in the past!)
There is only one change I made to her original recipe: For the first batch I followed Fertig’s directions, and while they rolls tasted great, many people (including me) found the flavor of the cranberry filling to be too strong. In the second batch, I used less of the filling and the flavor was great, with a nice balance between the cranberry and orange. If you’re a real fan of cranberries, then by all means use the entire amount in the recipe. Otherwise, do like I did and use about half the amount, saving the rest because it also makes a wonderful cranberry sauce!
Cranberry-Orange Cinnamon Rolls
Adapted from I Love Cinnamon Rolls! by Judith Fertig
Makes 16 medium rolls
For dough:
1 recipe No-Knead Cinnamon Roll Dough (see below)
For pan sauce:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
For filling:
2 12-ounce bags cranberries
1/2 cup orange juice
4 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
For glaze:
1 12 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
1/4 cup orange juice
Make the no-knead dough recipe below. While the dough rises, continue on with the rest of the recipe.
For the pan sauce, spread the butter in the bottom or two 9-inch baking pans. Set aside.
For the filling, place all of the ingredients except the softened unsalted butter into a large pot over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and cook until the cranberries soften, stirring occasionally, about 7 minutes. Set aside and allow to cool to room temperature.
Once the dough is ready, place it onto a floured surface. Dust lightly to prevent sticking. Cut the dough in half. Roll each half into a 10 by 16-inch rectangle, making sure not to over-work the dough. Spread each rectangle with half the softened butter for the filling, and then spread on the cranberry filling to taste. (Save any leftover filling to use as cranberry sauce!) Starting with the long side, roll up each rectangle of dough into two 16-inch long logs. Cut each log into 8 slices, and place each slice, cut-side up, into the baking dishes. Cover with towels and allow the rolls to rise at room temperature for 45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the rolls for 20 to 22 minutes or until they are golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
For the glaze, whisk together all of the ingredients until smooth. Drizzle the glaze over the rolls.
No-Knead Cinnamon Roll Dough
1/2 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup whole milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon instant or bread machine yeast
Combine the buttermilk, milk, butter, sugar and salt in a large measuring cup. Microwave on high until warm, about 1 1/2 minutes. Whisk in the eggs.
In a large bowl, mix together the flour and yeast. Add the liquid ingredients and stir to combine. Then beat the mixture for 40 strokes, making sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, until it forms a sticky, lumpy mass.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the mixture rise in a warm place for about 2 hours, until the dough has risen to almost 2 inches below the edge of the bowl and has a spongy appearance.
Now it’s ready for the recipe.


  1. These have such a great color. I saw your pin and stopped by to check out the recipe. Looks pretty easy, and there is a big bag of cranberries in the freezer.

  2. This is a cool emergency bake! Just open the can, add some baking love et voila! Pass me a slice and a cuppa joe!

  3. Linda, these sound wonderful. I had some difficulty getting here so I could comment. I tried to link to your blog from your comment on mine and it took me to google. I could not link to you from your google post page. Just thought you'd like to know. Have a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

  4. Thanks for the info, Mary. Now that the blog is linked to my Google+ page, that is where it goes when people want to know more about me. So it means they have to click on the About tab to find my blog link. Wonder if I can change it back? Humm...