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Cranberry Orange Cinnamon Rolls

December 29, 2011

I LOVE the smell of sweet, bready things baking in the oven, especially around Christmas time. When I think of Christmas sweet, bready treats, I think of rich, buttery, fragrant, spiced treats like muffins, rolls, and sticky buns. I think of smells like cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom, ginger, orange, and anise. I think of the movie A Little Princess–the scene in which Sarah and Becky wake up to find their attic room covered in rich, bright drapes and tapestries, and a table topped with juicy sausages and berry muffins.

That’s why I made cranberry orange cinnamon rolls for breakfast for my family over Christmas. I wanted to experience that kind of delight and deliciousness.

This cinnamon roll recipe is super easy. The dough is your standard dough, but the fillings and cinnamon/sugar/butter mixture can vary depending on what add-ins you want to incorporate.  In this Christmas batch, I added ginger, cloves, and nutmeg to the cinnamon/sugar mixture to give it a more holiday spin. I also added in some orange zest and chopped cranberries. Yum. My mom said it was better than Cinnabon. And that’s saying something coming from her.

3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup margarine, softened
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 (.25 ounce) package instant yeast
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water
1 egg
1 cup cranberries, roughly chopped
zest of 1 large orange
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp nutmeg

1 cup powdered sugar
2-3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice


  1. Heat the milk in a small saucepan until it bubbles, then remove from heat. Mix in butter; stir until melted. Let cool until lukewarm.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine 2 1/4 cup flour, yeast, sugar and salt; mix well. Add water, egg and the milk mixture; beat well. Add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition. When the dough has just pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, about 5 minutes.
  3. Cover the dough with a damp cloth and let rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, and softened butter. In another small bowl, mix the cranberries and orange zest.
  4. Roll out dough into a 12×9 inch rectangle. Spread dough with butter/sugar mixture. Then sprinkle the cranberry/zest mixture. Roll up dough and pinch seam to seal. Cut into 12 to 16 equal sized rolls and place cut side up in a 9×13 baking dish. I use dental floss to cut the log into rolls; much easier than a knife!
  5. Cover with saran wrap and let rise until doubled. I’ve also made this two days in advance and placed in the fridge until ready to bake. If making in advance, be sure to let the dough rest and rise at room temp for a few hours before baking. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until browned.
  7. Prepare icing by mixing in powdered sugar into the orange juice. Serve warm and top with icing.
One Comment leave one →
  1. January 26, 2012 7:13 pm

    The cinnamon rolls were better than the famous Cinnabon! I kid you not!

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