Cranberry-Orange Cinnamon Rolls with Pecans
Have you ever thought to yourself, “If I just had a delicious, gooey, cinnamon-y, wonderful cinnamon roll, this day would be better?” I know I have. I think it almost every day. Recently I decided to act on it. I made a roll of my normal cinnamon rolls but added cranberries and orange to a small portion, still in bliss over my cranberry almond cookies. I thought, if the flavors worked in a cookie they’d surely work in cinnamon rolls. Well, boy oh boy was I right!
Now, I’m surely not the first person to ever try this combination, but it was new to me! After trying this delicious gift from above, I went from thinking there was no recipe that could touch the classic cinnamon roll, to knowing, without a doubt in my heart, that I’ve stumbled upon what could be the world’s most delicious thing… ever! Ok, maybe not the most in the world, but it is orgasmically good, like, way-too-good, I’m having another, and another, good.
Let’s take a quick look at what makes this cinnamon roll so delicious and worth my incessant bragging. Cranberry and orange is a combination made in heaven; the sweetness and tartness seem to compliment each other perfectly. Orange and cinnamon is a combination that does nothing short of titillate the taste buds–if you haven’t tried the combination with chocolate, do it and stand back in awe. The pecans add that signature nutty crunch with a delicious buttery taste that can only come from a pecan. Together these ingredients make this a recipe worth trying, savoring, saving, and making over and over again.
I’ve already made them twice now and I’m sure I will make them at least once more before Christmas. Oh, and have I mentioned I’ve had six of these little guys in two and a half days? Yes, I’m having one for breakfast with my coffee as I write this.
Now, you may be wondering, how does this fit into the holidays? Well, they’re sweet, delicious, fun to eat and even look at. Good enough for me! These are perfect for the holidays, a time notorious for overindulging and for good reason–consider this recipe a reason. If that isn’t enough. Just throw a bow and something red on it and you’ll be set.
And without further ado, let’s get on to this recipe!
1 packet active yeast (1/4 ounce)
1 cup warm milk (between 105 and 115 F)
1/4 cup sugar
5 1/3 tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups flour
8 tablespoons melted butter
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 tablespoon orange zest
1/2 cup dried cranberries, roughly chopped
1/2 cup pecans, roughly chopped
8 tablespoons butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
6-10 tablespoons hot water
Recipe Notes: Like any yeast dough, this requires two rise times. So, plan to start this project about two to three hours before your plan to eat them. Also, don’t rush the rising period! Be sure that the bowl you use and liquids are warm (cold temperature can impeede and greatly slow down the yeast and rising period). If you don’t let the dough rise fully, you will get a very tough, yucky-tasting dough, which will make the cinnamon rolls just gross.
Prep: Roughly chop the cranberries and pecans; warm the milk to between 105 and 115 F; melt the 5 1/3 tablespoons butter.
Step One: Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes.
Step Two: Add sugar, melted butter, salt, egg, & 2 cups flour to the yeast and milk. Stir until combined.
Step Three: Add the remaining flour. The dough will be slightly sticky. Knead for 5 to 10 minutes. You can knead with a stand mixer, or by hand on a floured surface.
Step Four: Grease a bowl with butter. Place the kneaded dough into the bowl. Cover and let rise until doubled in size about 1 1/2 hours.
Prep: Preheat the oven to 350F; Melt the stick of butter; Mix the cinnamon with the sugars; line a quarter baking sheet with parchment paper & use a little of the melted butter and cinnamon sugar mixture to cover the parchment paper.
Step Five: Punch the dough down. Knead briefly by hand for about 30 seconds to a minute*. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes**.
*Kneading again will give the yeast in the dough more gluten to eat, producing a lighter, more tasty dough. It will also encourage it to rise quicker the second rise.
**It is good practice to let dough rest briefly after kneading a second time before shaping it. This will make it easier to roll out the dough.
Step Six: Lightly flour your working surface and rolling pin. Roll the dough out to a 15″ x 10″ rectangle. This will take a little work as the dough will be elastic and attempt to retain a smaller shape. Don’t be afraid to play with dough a bit and stretch it.
Step Eight: Sprinkle the sugar and cinnamon mixture over the melted butter. Spread evenly.
Step Nine: Add the orange zest, cranberry, and pecans.
Step Ten: Roll the dough and toppings fairly tightly, using the long side.
Step Eleven: Mark the half point of the dough, then mark the half-way point of each half (essentially quartering the roll). Each quarter will provide 4 cinnamon rolls for a total of 16.
Step Twelve: Cut the rolls at the marks you made. Lay the cinnamon rolls out on the baking sheet, fairly close to each other.
Step Thirteen: Allow the cinnamon rolls to rise 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the rolls are doubled in size. They will begin to merge together; this is good.
Step Fourteen: Bake in a 350F oven for 25 minutes until just golden brown.
Step Fifteen: Let cool out of the baking sheet on a wire rack.
Step Sixteen: Combine all the ingredients (softened butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, and hot water into a mixing bowl). Beat until well combined.
Step Seventeen: Spread the icing evenly over the top of cinnamon rolls while still warm. If you like pecans, spread more over the top of the rolls.
While there may seem to be a lot of steps, this is a fairly straight forward recipe, and it is fairly simple. The two rising breaks, and baking time gives you more than enough time to prep each next part (prep the filling ingredients while it rises the first time; prep the glaze ingredients and/or the glaze while it rises the second time or bakes).
Enjoy these while they’re warm! They also keep well in an airtight container. Just pop them in the microwave the next day–if they last–for about 12 seconds and they’ll be perfect!
Note from the Author: I must, first and foremost, thank my readers and the editors of FoodBuzz.com for choosing my cranberry almond cookies as one of yesterday’s top 9 recipes. This is a great honor! Also, I would like to thank Jonathan Lue-Tan for photographing this recipe. While, I usually cook and shoot my blog posts–employing the hands of a family member or friend for action shots–I was awarded the chance to focus on streamlessly preparing this recipe. This may or may not be one of the few times you see my own hands in the photos.