Christmas morning is the most magical time of the year. Kids wake up to the discovery that Santa arrived – cookies eaten and gifts under the tree. Parents are overjoyed by the wonder upon their kids’ faces. Families come together to celebrate. And breakfast is always perfect. I don’t know if it’s the same as the theory that “everything tastes better on vacation”, but on Christmas morning the breakfast is sweeter.
Cinnamon rolls have always been one of my favorite treats, and I can never pass up a Cinnabon at the airport. My favorite part isn’t the gooey, cinnamony center that everyone desires, I save that bite for someone else to savor. I love the dough and the frosting. To me the cinnamon simply adds a nice depth to the flavor profile.
Always wanting to make my own, I’ve gone through many trial-and-error attempts at baking cinnamon rolls from scratch. Either the yeast didn’t bloom properly or the flavor was just lacking. I couldn’t give up though, I kept searching for the perfect recipe. And a few years ago I found it with these Orange Cranberry Cinnamon Rolls by The Novice Chef.
Making the cinnamon rolls does take about an hour and a half so Mom and I would made them on Christmas Eve after church, covered them, kept them in the fridge, and then baked them in the morning while presents are being opened. Another option is to make them in advance, freeze them, and let them thaw Christmas Eve night. Let them rise and then bake in the morning.
Cranberry Cinnamon Rolls
Ingredients for the dough:
- 2 packets active dry yeast
- 2 C warm water
- 6 tbsp room temperature butter
- 1 C sugar
- 7 1/2 C flour, plus extra for rolling
- 2 eggs
- 1 tbsp salt
Ingredients for filling:
- 8 tbsp room temperature butter
- 1 1/2 C brown sugar
- 8 oz fresh cranberries, chopped
- 2 tbsp cinnamon
Ingredients for frosting:
- 4 tbsp room temperature butter
- 2 C powdered sugar
- 2 tbsp milk
- Stir yeast into the warm water. Let bloom for 5-10 minutes.
- Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat butter, sugar, and salt. Add eggs one at a time, beating until combined. Slowly pour in the yeast and water. Beat until combined. Add the flour about one cup at a time, beating until combined after each addition. Once the dough starts to form switch to the dough hook attachment. After all the flour has been added knead the dough for 3 minutes.
- Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead by hand until smooth.
- Place dough in a greased bowl, cover, and let rise to double in size (about 30 minutes) in a warm place. (In the microwave or turned off oven)
- Divide dough in half and roll out onto a floured surface.
- Roll one half into a rectangle. Spread the dough evenly with 4 tbsp of softened butter. Sprinkle with 3/4 C brown sugar, half of the cranberries, and 1 tbsp of cinnamon. Roll the dough into a log, lengthwise. Cut the dough into 2″ cinnamon rolls. Place cut side down in a 9×13 casserole dish.
- Repeat step 6 for the other half of the dough.
- Cover dough with a towel and let rise for 30 minutes before baking. The rolls should have doubled in size again. (Or you can freeze the rolls and after thawing let rise until doubled in size.)
- Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 and bake another 7 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool, slightly.
- Meanwhile, make frosting. Whisk together all of the ingredients for the frosting. Frost the cinnamon rolls!