Tell me some of the traditions you or your family had when you grew up. How about some of the traditions that you have now?
I think that my love for Christmas started because of all the traditions that we had while I was growing up. I enjoyed those traditions and the way that they made me feel, and it created this huge nostalgia for the holidays that lasts to this day.
In elementary school, I remember the traditions that happened on the last day before our Winter Break. Classes ended early and for the latter half of the day, the school would turn into a ‘holiday carnival’ of sorts. Each classroom would turn into a fun activity for us to do until was time to go home. One room had games, one room had holiday movies playing on a television, one room was for making Christmas ornaments, another was for decorating Christmas cookies, and so on.
My mom and my sisters and I had a tradition of driving around the neighborhood on Christmas Eve night and looking at other house’s lights and decorations that they put up.
Now that I’m grown I have several holiday traditions of my own. We try to put up our Christmas tree within the first couple of weeks of November, which is also when I dust off my holiday playlist. There is a list of holiday movies that we watch all throughout the month of December. And of course, I do the 12 Days of Christmas here on the blog.
I’ve heard about a lot of families that have a tradition of eating cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning. We don’t, but it’s a holiday tradition that I can definitely get behind.
My sister doesn’t like cinnamon rolls (insert eyeroll emoji), so whenever I get the craving for breakfast rolls, I have to get a bit creative and make something that she’ll like. These Honey Sausage Rolls were a hit. These Orange Rolls were a HUGE hit.
And then came today’s rolls.
I don’t know who it was who first came up with the flavor combination of cranberry and citrus, but whoever they are, they were a genius who truly gave us a Christmas miracle. It has truly never, EVER let me down. These were so delicious. Where do I even begin?
The dough itself is flavored with vanilla, orange zest and juice. The powdered milk and instant potato flakes are there to improve the overall texture of the finished product–it gives the rolls a chewy, but light richness.
The filling is both tart and slightly sweet thanks to the combination of cranberry and orange juice. I think it gives a great, fresh balance of flavor to the icing that gets slathered on top of the rolls while they’re still warm.
As you can see, this recipe makes a modest sized bunch. If you’re baking for a crowd, you may want to consider doubling it. You may want to consider doubling it even if you’re not baking for a crowd. I wish that I had.
We’re over halfway through the 12 Days of Christmas already! Check out the other posted recipes if you haven’t already:
DAY 7: CRANBERRY ORANGE ROLLS
Cranberry Orange Rolls
- 2/3 cup warm water
- 1 tablespoon fresh orange zest
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) softened unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup dry powdered milk
- 1/4 cup potato flour, or dry instant mashed potato flakes
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- pinch of salt
- 1 tablespoon melted butter
*A heaping 3/4 cup of leftover cranberry sauce will work in lieu of the filling as well. This is my go-to favorite recipe.
- About 1 1/2 cups powdered
- A few tablespoons orange juice
Lightly spray an 8 or 9 inch square baking dish or cake pan with non-stick cooking spray; set aside.
In a small bowl, pour the water, sprinkle the yeast on top. Sprinkle the sugar on top of that. Allow to sit for ten minutes, until proofed and frothy. In a medium size bowl combine the flour with the dry milk and potato flour and stir with a fork. Set aside.
In the bowl of a standing mixer, pour the proofed yeast, the orange zest and juice, the butter, vanilla extract and salt. Use the paddle attachment to stir together. Switch to the dough hook and add the dry ingredients in increments. When the dough starts to gather around the hook, remove from the bowl, turn out onto a clean work surface, and use your hands to knead the dough for about 10 minutes, adding more flour if need be until a smooth dough is formed. (The dough should spring back when you press your finger into it.)
Grease the inside of the mixing bowl, place the dough inside. Cover with plastic wrap, then a damp kitchen towel and allow to rise until doubled in a warm place, about 65 minutes.
To make the filling: Combine all of the filling ingredients except the melted butter in a small, heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened. Remove from the heat, and stir in the melted butter. Set aside to cool.
Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface that you’ve sprinkled with flour and gently deflate. Roll/pat it into a 16 x 12 rectangle.
Spread the filling out onto the dough. Roll up into a log tightly, pinching the seams closed to seal. Cut the log into 9 slices. and place the slices into your prepared baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and your damp kitchen cloth. Allow to proof for an additional 45 minutes until doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Brush the proofed rolls with the beaten egg. Bake until golden brown in the center (an instant read thermometer should read 195-200F), 35-40 minutes. Cover with foil if they’re browning too quickly.
To make the icing, combine the powdered sugar with just enough OJ to make a smooth glaze. After the rolls have cooled for about 7-8 minutes, Spread the icing over the rolls while they are still warm so that the icing can seep into the crevices of the rolls. Keep any leftovers in a sealed plastic container in the fridge.