Cranberry-Tangerine Cinnamon Rolls

Dsc00938 While I was grocery shopping this morning, I was so happy to come across a large display of very bright and ripe tangerines on sale in the front of the store.  Living in Nevada, which is not exactly the farming capital of the United States, it is rare that I get to use the words "bright" and "ripe" to describe anything that I find in the produce section, unless I am paying a bundle for it at Whole Foods.  The main reason for my excitement about finding the juicy orange fruit is that it finally gave me the opportunity to try out an idea for a recipe, which has been rolling around in my head for a little while: Cranberry-Tangerine Cinnamon Rolls.  What's not to love about that name?

I've always loved the flavor combination of cranberry and orange in recipes such as quickbreads and scones.  My only complaint about breakfast pastries such as Danish and cinnamon rolls (other than the fact that they don't really fit into my diet and I can't eat them every day) is that sometimes they are just a little bit too sugary, and they need something added to cut the sweetness.  So, I decided to combine the two, only I substituted tangerines for oranges, because I prefer the less sour taste of a tangerine, and I rarely see them used in recipes.  This way, you get a little bit of tartness with every sweet bite of these jumbo-sized cinnamon rolls.  These would be perfect to make for breakfast over the weekend.  Make the dough and shape the rolls the night before, and pop them in the oven and glaze them the next morning.   Just don't be surprised if the neighbors "happen to stop by" after they smell the aroma coming from your house.  Here are some tips for "cinn-ful" cinnamon rolls:

  • If you don't have a stand mixer, this recipe can be made by hand.  Using the stand mixer just makes it a little bit easier because the dough can be quite sticky.
  • These rolls are best eaten within hours of baking, so if you want to have them in the morning, you can roll and cut the dough the night before, cover the pans, and allow the rolls to rise overnight in the refrigerator.  Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes prior to baking.
  • If you don't have tangerines available, you can substitute oranges.  You can also try this recipe using blood oranges, if you can find them.
  • If you like nuts in your cinnamon rolls, sprinkle about ¾ cup finely chopped pecans or  walnuts along with the cranberries.  Instead of cranberries, you can substitute raisins, golden raisins, coarsely chopped dried cherries, or even chocolate chips!
  • If the yeast does not start to foam a few minutes after it has been combined with the warm water, then either the water was not warm enough (should be 105-110 degrees) or the yeast is too old.  You will need to discard the mixture and redo this step because the dough will not rise unless the yeast is activated.
  • I know that I've said this about a dozen times, but if I could recommend one kitchen gadget for you to have, it would be a Microplane zester.  I use mine all the time in recipes.  Adding zest to a recipe really brings out the flavor of the citrus--much more so than just adding the juice.

Cranberry Tangerine Cinnamon Rolls

Makes 12 rolls


4 teaspoons active dry yeast

¾ cup sugar, divided

4 ¼ cups flour

Zest from 3 tangerines, divided

1 teaspoon saltDsc00930

1 cup whole milk

6 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces

2 large eggs

1 egg yolk

1 tablespoon cinnamon

4 tablespoons butter, melted

1 cup dried cranberries

1 large egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water (for the egg wash)

1 ¼ cups confectioner's sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 tablespoons tangerine juice

Combine yeast, ½ teaspoon sugar, and ¼ cup warm water in a small bowl; set aside.  Place flour, 5 tablespoons sugar, zest from 2 tangerines, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Mix on low to combine.

Dsc00931 Heat the milk in a small saucepan over medium-low heat for about 2 minutes or until warm to the touch.  Add the  tablespoons of butter, and allow to melt, stirring occasionally.  Remove from the heat.  Add the 2 eggs, 1 egg yolk, dissolved yeast, and milk mixture to the flour mixture.  Mix on low speed for 6 to 8 minutes or until a soft, tacky dough forms, stopping once or twice to scrape the dough off of the sides of the bowl.  Add a few sprinkles of flour, if necessary.  Transfer the dough to a large buttered bowl, and let stand in a warm place, covered with plastic wrap, until double in bulk (about 1 ½ hours.)

Grease two 9-inch round cake pans.  Mix the remaining sugar (about ½ cup) and the cinnamon in a small bowl.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and press gently to deflate.  Roll the dough into a 17 by 11 inch rectangle with the longer edge toward you.  Brush the rectangle with the melted butter and sprinkle it evenly with the cinnamon sugar and dried cranberries.  Roll up the dough lengthwise, pinching the seam to seal.

Using a long sharp knife, cut the dough into 12 equal pieces, and place 6 of the pieces in each of the prepared pans.  Cover and let rise in a warm place until almost doubled in bulk, 30-45 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 350F degrees.

Brush the surface of the buns with the egg wash.  Bake at 350F degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.  Let cool 5 minutes, and then remove from the pans.

Whisk together the confectioner's sugar, vanilla, tangerine juice, and remaining zest from 1 tangerine.  Drizzle the glaze over the warm rolls.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

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One Comment

  1. This looks amazing. I love cinnamon rolls, have never made them, and got hungry as soon as I saw the title of your blog post. I appreciate the tip about getting them ready the night before and popping them into the oven the next morning. It leaves me much more likely to have them for breakfast!

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