We had Christmas with my sister’s family this past weekend, and I wanted to make something special for Sunday brunch. I’ve been thinking about a breakfast-appropriate baked treat with cranberries and orange for a little while now, so I decided to adapt the Meyer lemon breakfast rolls I made a few years back to make cranberry clementine breakfast rolls. They feature an enriched dough which is studded with cranberries, rolled with tangy cream cheese filling, and topped while warm with a bright clementine glaze. I am really pleased with how they turned out! I used clementines for the orange/citrus part because they are so sweet and easy to juice. They give the rolls a bright, fresh flavor and scent. The cranberries are an accent flavor; they look so pretty and festive in the dough. The rolls themselves are soft and flaky, an ideal base for the tart, sweet, tangy flavors of the fruit and filling.
I enjoy working with enriched dough: it can be made by hand or quickly in a stand mixer, is easy to pat or roll out into the rectangle you need to create, and is forgiving if you need a little more of less time to proof. In other words, it’s a great recipe for beginners or novices because the final product almost always tastes fantastic, and the recipe usually works with the time constraints of, say, a busy holiday weekend. I think the pictured batch could have risen for another 30 mins. before baking– but I didn’t have an extra 30 mins., and I was still pleased as punch with how they looked and tasted. That, to me, is an ideal holiday (or any day) recipe: festive, special, flexible, and mostly made ahead!
After a family breakfast with scrambled eggs, Mailhot sausages, plenty of coffee, and these fragrant cranberry clementine breakfast rolls– which my 4 year old niece helped me glaze– we were properly fortified to watch the kids open their Christmas gifts. A nice treat to start a fun day. Happy Holidays!
Cranberry Clementine Breakfast Rolls (makes
For the dough:
- 3 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
- 1/4 c. sugar
- 2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
- 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- zest of three clementines
- 1/2 c. buttermilk
- 8 T. unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1/4 c. chopped fresh cranberries (not frozen)
For the filling:
- 5 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1/2 c. sugar
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla
- 2 T. clementine juice (from about 1 clementine)
- pinch of kosher salt
For the glaze:
- 1/4 c. clementine juice (from about 2 clementines)
- 1 c. confectioner’s sugar, sifted
- pinch of kosher salt
Day 1: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine 3 c. flour, sugar, yeast, salt and zest. Mix to combine. Add the buttermilk and cubes of soft butter to the dry ingredients and turn on the mixer, low speed. Lightly whisk the eggs and add to the mixer as it runs. Walk away if you need to, but let the mixer go on low-medium speed for at least 5 mins.
Toss the chopped cranberries with 1/4 c. more flour and add to the dough. Mix for another minute. Remove the dough (it should be in a ball around the hook) from the mixer bowl and knead with your hands for a few minutes, adding a dusting of flour if the dough is very sticky, then create a ball again. Place a small amount of neutral oil in the bottom of a glass or ceramic bowl; make sure the dough is entirely coated (lightly) with oil. Cover with a tea towel and allow to rise in a warm spot for about 3 hours, until it has about doubled in size.
While the dough rises, make your filling. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix until smooth. Refrigerate until you are ready to roll the dough, though it is helpful to bring the filling to room temperature by removing it from the refrigerator about 40 mins. before you need to use it.
Lightly flour a bread board or large cutting board. Turn the dough out and pat or roll into a large rectangle, about 10″ x 15″. Starting at one long end, spread the cream cheese filling over the surface of the dough, leaving 1-2″ of dough open at the other long end. The filling should completely and evenly cover the rest of the dough. Starting at the filling-covered end, roll the dough into a long tube. Pull the clear end up and over the roll and pinch to seal. Refrigerate or freeze the dough for about 20 mins. before cutting.
Cut the cold filled dough in half through the middle to make two tubes of uncut rolls, about 8″ long apiece. Then, cut each tube again in half, then each of your four tubes into 4 pieces. (I know this does not add up to 15– I had two stub ends that I combined to make one bun.) The key is consistent thickness, so work slowly. It does get messy… but I like to think of the mess as flavor and character, so I don’t get frustrated. I used a serrated bread knife, cleaned between cuts, and have seen other methods using bench scrapers and plain dental floss to make the cuts. I was not that concerned with perfection… but if you are, there are some good instructions on the web. When you have about 15 similar-sized buns, place them in a lightly sprayed 9″ x 13″ baking pan in five rows of three. Push the rolls right up against each other so they fit snugly in the pan. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. The rolls should rise again, slowly, overnight.
Day 2: Remove the pan from the refrigerator and loosen the plastic wrap so it covers the pan lightly. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Allow the buns to warm up for about an hour at room temperature. Bake at 325 for 20-25 mins., rotating the pan once midway through, until the cranberry breakfast rolls are golden brown and the center ones are cooked through.
Mix up the clementine glaze by combining 1/4 c/ clementine juice, 1 c. confectioner’s sugar, and a pinch of kosher salt in a small bowl. Drizzle the glaze, yes all of it, over the rolls, as soon as they come out of the oven. Use a bread knife or spoon to pull the rolls away from the side of the pan so the glaze drips down around all sides. The glaze will harden slightly as the buns cool. Serve immediately.
Leftover breakfast rolls will keep, tightly covered, for 2-3 days.