Over Easter, I kept seeing hot cross buns after hot cross buns all over Instagram and Pinterest. I’ve never made hot cross buns before and I’m not a huge fan of raisins. But bread is my friend and I haven’t made bread in a while. So, taking the idea from hot cross buns, these Orange Cranberry Sweet Buns were born, or you can call them not-cross-buns! And with that, we have the cranberries replacing the raisins and the orange replacing the spices. You can use regular dried cranberries, but I used dried orange cranberries for a double dose of orange flavor.
I’m not entirely sure if we can categorize these as dinner rolls. But I definitely ate them for dinner, and breakfast too. I can also imagine a great lunch of turkey sliders with a side salad tossed with more cranberries! Remind me to make these for Thanksgiving, because I know what I want to do with my Thanksgiving leftover. Is it too early to mention turkey day? Nah… At my house, we are all about Thanksgiving, so it’s never too early to prepare.
Oh, did I mentioned these orange cranberry sweet buns are made with 50% whole wheat flour? These little soft buns are packed with whole grain goodness, and filled with chewy cranberries. They also smell amazing. Homemade bread is always best eaten the day they are made. However, these will keep until the next day, longer than that and they start to dry out. I like to warm them up in the oven for 3-5 minutes at 350°F. But if you don’t want to fire up the oven for just two breakfast buns, you can wrap them in wet paper towel and pop them in the microwave for 20-30 seconds. Recipe is below, enjoy!
- 1/4 cup warm water
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 1 cup whole milk
- 3 oz unsalted butter
- 1 + 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 + 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- Zest of 1 orange
- 3/4 cup dried orange cranberry (or regular dried cranberry)
- Juice of 1/2 orange
- Extra flour for kneading (AP or whole wheat)
- 1 egg + 1 tablespoon water for egg wash
- First, zest an orange into a small bowl and squeeze the juice from half the orange into another bowl.
- Add the dried cranberry to the orange juice and let soak for about 30 minutes. Stir occasionally to make sure all the cranberries are soaked thoroughly.
- To bloom the yeast, dissolve a teaspoon of sugar in 1/4 cup of warm tap water, make sure the temperature is between 100°F and 110°F, hotter will kill the yeast. Sprinkle 3/4 teaspoon of active dry yeast over the water/sugar mixture, set aside. The yeast should be activated after 10 – 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, warm the milk and butter in a small sauce pan just enough to melt the butter. Set aside to cool.
- To the bowl with the orange zest, add 1/4 cup of sugar and mix with a whisk until the sugar turn a light yellow and fragrant.
- Add the flour, orange sugar and salt into a small mixing bowl, mix thoroughly with a whisk.
- Before making the bread dough, make sure the yeast is activated, otherwise the bread will not rise. Also make sure the milk and butter has cooled below 110°F so we don’t kill the yeast upon contact.
- Fit your stand mixer with the dough hook, add the milk, flour, bloomed yeast to the mixer bowl. Scoop out the soaked cranberries (discard any leftover juice), add to the mixer bowl as well. Knead on low for 2 – 3 minutes. The dough will be very sticky.
- Use a bowl scraper to scrape the side of the bowl, and tap the dough into a ball. Leave in the bowl and let rise for 3 – 4 hours. By this time, the dough should be at least double in size.
- Butter and flour a baking pan.
- Turn the dough out onto a well-floured board, knead by hand a few times to smooth out the dough, sprinkling with as much flour as needed so the dough doesn’t stick to the board.
- Divide dough into 12 portions. Knead each piece of dough a few times until smooth and shape into a ball.
- Place in the prepared baking pan about 1” apart, let rise for another 1.5 to 2 hours to about double in size again.
- Beat the egg with 1 tablespoon of water and gently brush the egg wash all over the dough.
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Give the dough another coat of egg wash and bake for 15 - 17 minutes until the top is golden brown.
2. Baking time can vary depending on how much space there is between and around the buns. The pan with 3 buns was done at 15 minutes, and the pan with 9 buns needed the extra 2 minutes.
3. If you want individual round buns that you don’t have to pull apart, you can place the buns on a baking sheet further away from each other, about 2”. The baking time will also reduce for this since there is more space for heat to circulate around the buns. Check bread at 12 minutes.
4. Prep time is approximate and includes resting time for buns to rise.