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.
Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make these orange rolls:
• all-purpose flour
• unsalted butter
• active dry yeast
• large eggs
• granulated sugar
• kosher salt
• 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.Print
Christmas Morning Orange Rolls
- Prep Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Total Time: 3 hours
- Yield: 12 rols 1x
- Category: baking, breakfast, brunch, holiday,
Tender and stretchy yeasted rolls scented with orange zest and warming spice and topped with an orange cream cheese glaze.
For the Dough:
- 1 cup whole milk, warmed to just warmer than body temperature about 105–110 degrees F.
- 1-package (2 ¼ teaspoons) active dry yeast
- 1/3 cup (66 grams) granulated sugar
- 4 1/3 cups (574 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ cup (1 stick, 113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into large chunks
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature and beaten to combine
For the Filling:
- ½ cup (1 stick, 113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- Zest of two oranges (about 2 ½ tablespoons)
- ¾ cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
For the Glaze:
- 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- ¼ cup (4 tablespoons, 56 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- Zest of one orange (about 1 tablespoon)
- 1 1/2 cups (150 grams) powdered sugar, sifted if clumpy
- Pinch of kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
- 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
- To make the dough, sprinkle the yeast over the warmed milk. Add a pinch of sugar from the 1/3 cup sugar and allow the yeast to activate. After 5 minutes, the yeast mixture should be foamy and fluffy.
- In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, add remaining sugar, flour, nutmeg, and salt. Stir with a spatula to combine. Add the butter chunks, beaten eggs and finally the yeasty milk mixture. Stir again with a spatula to combine into a shaggy dough.
- Place the mixer on medium speed and allow to knead for 3 minutes. Stop the mixer, scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and return to medium speed to knead for another 5 minutes. The dough should mostly come into a cohesive ball that gathers around the dough hook. The bottom of the dough may stick to the bowl. If the dough seems too sticky to do this, add a few more tablespoons of flour.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and knead by hand a few turns just to ensure the dough is smooth and bouncy. Lightly grease a bowl (you can absolutely use the bowl you mixed the dough in), place the dough in the greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow to proof until almost doubled in size, about 1 hour.
- To make the filling, in a small bowl combine orange zest, sugar, and spices. Rub together with your fingers until evenly combined and fragrant.
- To make the glaze, place cream cheese in a medium bowl. Make sure that the cream cheese is very well softened and if not, microwave it for a few seconds to make sure it’s supremely softened. Use a spatula to spread the cream cheese around the bowl, making it super pliable. Add the softened butter and stir until no lumps from either the cream cheese or butter remain.
- Add the orange zest, powdered sugar, salt, and vanilla bean paste and slowly work to combine. Drizzle in orange juice and stir until smooth. Cover and set aside.
- When the dough has risen, turn it out onto a lightly floured counter and press gently. Use a rolling pin to roll into a 14×20-inch rectangle, with the longest side facing you.
- Spread with softened butter. Sprinkle generously with orange sugar. Starting from the long side nearest you, roll into a tight coil ending seam side down. Slide a piece of plain dental floss under the middle of the dough and bring the ends of the floss up and around the log and pull together to cut the dough cleanly. Use the same technique to divide each half log into six equal pieces, about 1 ½-inches thick, for 12 rolls total. Arrange rolls in a lightly greased 9×13-inch baking dish, cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight.
- Remove the rolls from the refrigerator. Allow to come to room temperature and proof slightly for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Place a rack in the upper third or center of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Uncover the rolls and bake for 25-30 minutes until golden and puffed and cooked through. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes. While still warm, top with half of the glaze mixture. Allow to soak in. Cool the rolls even further, 15-20 minutes, and glaze once again. Serve warm and enjoy! Rolls are best the day they are made but last up to 3 days. For best results the day after baking, toast in a toaster oven before serving.
Keywords: orange, rolls, cinnamon rolls, christmas baking, christmas morning, yeasted, cream cheese
Can I freeze the cut rolls to bake in smaller batches?
These were SO FREAKING GOOD. Soft fluffy dough and the perfect amount of citrus. I did add some cinnamon and a bit of brown sugar to the filling (and omitted the ginger
) but man there is something about fresh zest rubbed into sugar? Pure magic! I loved these and am so happy I froze the other half so we can have them (with minimal effort) next week!
These were unfreakingreal. Such a delicious flavor combination. I also added 1/2tsp cardamom to the dough and wow. I have avoided making cinnamon rolls and the like because of the amount of patience required, but these were beyond worth it.
Yummy in CA
These are fantastic! A new favorite here. Goodbye cinnamon rolls, hello orange. What a nice change. I made these and took them to work, we have an oven so I baked them there and filled the office with the wonderful scent. They were almost gone before I remembered to take a picture. They have been requested for a repeat performance!
Made these this morning for holiday breakfast. Oh. My. Just delightful! Soft, fragrant, creamy orangy glaze. Even cutting second dough rest short to accommodate family schedules they were incredibly fluffy…rose beautifully. Thank you especially for details, description throughout the recipe. Very helpful! I’m not a big yeast dough baker. It never seems to turn out right for me. I’m basking in this success!
We are planning a lemon version with poppy seeds for a summer birthday celebration! Might have to happen sooner! ?
Loved it! Rest it overnight for a scrumptious breakfast. I’ve been on the fence about getting a 13 x 9 inch pan, to add to my very small kitchen. But I got the Goldtouch pan to make it. And it is wonderful. Thank you for the recommendation.
I freaking forgot the butter before the filling.
They’re a hit and this is a recipe I will be revisiting all year. Highly recommend.
Put these together yesterday and in the oven this morning for Christmas breakfast! They were fantastic! Everyone thought they were amazing! I think we have a new Christmas morning tradition!
We did it! Followed the directions to a T and had a wonderful Christmas breakfast. This was a great recipe that didn’t take away from Christmas Eve or Christmas morning festivities. Thank you and Merry Christmas!
These are in our fridge for the morning! They’ll be a lovely addition to our traditional bacon quiche and fresh fruit.
These are absolutely in the fridge as we speak. Christmas morning amazingness here we come. Thank you for all that you do, Joy! Happiest holiday wishes to you and your loved ones.
Made these for Christmas and my husband approved “That Joy really knows what she’s doing!” Now, how to keep from consuming them all before the day is done?
Annnnnd we made these again for New Year’s morning breakfast lol. They’re too good!! We shared them with our neighbours this time.
Not for Christmas morning but for my hubby’s 67th birthday tomorrow Jan. 2 2023. In the fridge and ready to celebrate tomorrow morning. ??
I’ll take the orange, one of my favorite flavors, I love cinnamon too, but I like the change, so thank you!
What a wonderful way to wake up on Christmas morning to the delightful aroma of cinnamon rolls with a special twist of orange. How delightful! I am tempted to try this recipe. Thank you. Merry Christmas to you and your family!