The Christmas holiday is rapidly approaching.  Are you ready?  I’m honestly a bit nervous about how our first Christmas without Dad will be.  I know it’s going to be hard, but it will be good to be with family so we can all support each other and lean on each other.  We’re hosting at our house, and planning on keeping things very low maintenance.  That’s how it has always been in our family anyway.  This has never been a big food holiday for us.  We’re too busy enjoying the giving and receiving of gifts and just spending a lazy day with each other.  Food has always been more of an afterthought.

If you’re having guests in your home for a holiday breakfast or brunch, these cranberry orange cinnamon rolls would be an ideal option.  The rolls are made and assembled in advance and then refrigerated until you are ready to bake them.  The cranberry and orange flavors with a hint of spice are just right for the holiday season.  I love the way the tart cranberries contrast with the sweet cinnamon-sugar mixture, and the orange provides a bright accent.  I used a simple orange flavored glaze, though I think a spiced glaze like the one from these pumpkin scones would also be wonderful.  If you are a fan of more of the browned crust portion of the cinnamon roll you can proof and bake them on a baking sheet – the rolls will spread out a bit more than rise up, leaving more surface area exposed to the oven.  If you’re more fond of the soft pull-apart seams, try proofing and baking in a dish like a 9 x 13 or something similar so they have nowhere to go but up.

Today’s holiday giveaway is an awesome gift set from Grafton Village Cheese Co.  Visit the giveaway page to learn more and enter!

  • Yield 12-16 cinnamon rolls


For the dough:
6½ tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
5½ tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1 tsp. orange zest
3½ cups bread flour
2 tsp. instant (rapid rise) yeast
1 cup plus 2-4 tbsp. whole milk or buttermilk, at room temperature

For the filling:
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground ginger
Dash of grated nutmeg
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries

For the glaze:
3 cups powdered sugar
1 tbsp. freshly squeezed orange juice
6-7 tbsp. milk
1 tsp. orange zest


  • 01

    In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the sugar, salt and butter on medium-high speed until smooth.  Mix in the egg and orange zest until incorporated.  Mix in the flour, yeast and milk until a dough forms.  Switch to the dough hook and knead on low speed, about 8 minutes until the dough is silky and supple, tacky but not sticky.  (You may need to add a little extra flour or liquid to achieve this texture.)  Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, turning once to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for about 2 hours, or until doubled in size.

  • 02

    Mist a work surface with spray oil.  Roll it out into a rectangle with a rolling pin, lightly dusting the dough with flour if needed to keep itf from sticking (about 12 x 14 inches for larger rolls or 9 x 18 inches for smaller rolls).  Combine the sugar, cinnamon, and spices in a small bowl and mix to blend.  Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture over the surface of the dough.  Sprinkle the berries over the top evenly of the dough.  Starting with the wide edge, roll up the dough into a cigar-shaped log, creating a cinnamon sugar spiral as you roll.  Pinch the seam shut, and with the seam side down, slice the log into your desired number of rolls.  Transfer them to a baking sheet or baking dish lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat, placing the rolls about ½-1 inch apart.

  • 03

    Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature 75-90 minutes, until the rolls have grown into each other and have nearly doubled in size.  At this point, the rolls can also be covered and retarded in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.  Pull the pan out of the refrigerator 3-4 hours before baking to let the dough proof.

  • 04

    Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until golden brown.  Let cool in the baking pan or dish about 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.  Whisk together the glaze ingredients in a medium bowl until smooth and then drizzle over the top of the cinnamon rolls.  Let cool at least 15-20 minutes before serving.