Think of tender breakfast rolls and cinnamon rolls without the cinnamon, scented with heavenly orange and just the right amount of warming nutmeg and ginger. Honestly if cinnamon rolls disappeared from the world, we’d all be just fine – these orange rolls hit the spot.
I’m headed back to Los Angeles for the Christmas weekend and you can bet your bottom dollar I’m tucking away a little pack of active dry yeast in my carry on. It’s not that they don’t have yeast in Los Angeles – I just want to be sure I can make a batch of these babies as soon as I drop my bags at my parents house. These tender orange rolls are the first thing coming out of the oven on Christmas morning, followed shortly by my dad’s beef enchiladas but FIRST THINGS FIRST – buttery dough.
Cinnamon? Don’t even reach for it. Not necessary. Grab a few oranges, nutmeg, and ginger. We’re keeping it warm and cozy another way.
Happy Christmas weekend, dear friends. I hope it’s full of laughter and rest and sticky fingers and a few humble presents under the tree.
• all-purpose flour
• unsalted butter
• active dry yeast
• granulated sugar
• ground nutmeg and ground ginger
Let’s get to making orange rolls!
First, we’ll proof the active dry yeast in warm milk. Warm the milk until it’s just above body temperature (110 degrees or so does the trick). Nothing that feels hot to the touch – just warm. The warm milk will awaken the yeast and when it’s nice and alive and awake, it will look frothy and bubbly. That’s your sign that it’s ready to work in your dough.
Pro Tip: Sprinkle the yeast on top of the milk, give it a quick stir to moisten all the yeast. Don’t worry about any lumps. Leave the mixture to rest without stirring. Stirring could deflate the bubbles that would naturally arise and leave you questioning whether your yeast is alive. In other words, don’t fuss.
While the yeast rises, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, begin to combine the dry ingredients.
Room temperature butter is key here, so it works into the dough without stubborn butter lumps. Add the remaining warm milk and fluffy yeast mixture and combine the ingredients into a shaggy dough using a rubber spatula. This will give the dough hook something to hold on to.
This recipe is a lot of little multi-tasking moments.
While the dough mixes, in a small bowl combine the filling: orange zest, granulated sugar, nutmeg, and ground ginger. Spices for depth and warmth. Rub the orange zest into the sugar to bring out the bright essence of the citrus.
All of the orange flavor comes from orange zest and orange juice, so while the dough rests and rises, let’s make the orange cream cheese glaze.
Combine cream cheeses and butter, powdered sugar, all kinds of orange, and if vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract. The glaze will be swoopy and pourable. Perfect to creep deep into the baked rolls.
After the dough has rested and doubled in size, roll the dough into a 1/4-inch thick rectangle on a lightly floured surface. Spread with softened butter and sprinkle generously with the spiced orange sugar.
Roll the soft dough into a log and use a sharp knife (or dental floss to keep from smashing the coils) to cut rolls.
Nestle 12 coils into a 9×13-inch pan. This Goldtouch pan is my favorite rectangle to bake in because it’s nonstick and has super straight sides.
Cover the rolls loosely and allow to rest for 45 minutes while the oven preheats. The rolls will rise to just rub shoulders with one another. If you’d like to make these overnight rolls, cover and place in the fridge overnight, and bring to room temperature before baking.
Bake in the oven until the rolls are bubbling and just golden around the tops and edges.
While still warm, coat with a layer of half of sweet orange glaze. Still warm so the glaze sinks in.
When the rolls have cooled, generously spread with the remaining cream cheese frosting and have a rag standing my to wipe the drool because LOOK AT THESE!
Theses are rolls my dad would eat with a warm washcloth nearby to wipe his sticky hands and mouth. That washcloth appearing at a meal is a sure sight something is off the hinges GOOD.
Please make these homemade orange rolls part of your holiday morning. You’ll love how tender sweet they are. They’re absolutely irresistible.
For the Dough:
For the Filling:
For the Glaze:
Keywords: orange, rolls, cinnamon rolls, christmas baking, christmas morning, yeasted, cream cheese
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