Cranberry Orange Pecan Rolls

Merry Christmas!
Holiday treats with the pan of un-iced cranberry orange pecan rolls

Happy Boxing Day! Hope many of your friends and families had a great holiday.

Many of us usually think cranberries are for the holidays but I think of them as a great sweet-tart fruit that could be used year round. I finally found some time from my crazy schedule to use cranberries (what some people consider as “America’s original super fruit”) to bake cranberry orange pecan rolls for my family.

What makes these cranberry orange pecan rolls amazing is the fact there is no trace of cinnamon to be found (my mother hates cinnamon) but it still have the seductive qualities of a cinnamon roll. Fluffy, not too sweet bread with spirals of sweet, gooey filling filled with dark brown sugar, crunchy pecans and a twang of citrus. It’s a loaded breakfast roll that manages not to cross the too sweet territory since the frozen cranberries’ natural tartness tame the sugar.

Homemade cranberry, orange, pecan roll

Cranberry Orange Pecan Rolls

For the dough
Yield: 12 buns. This recipe could be halved and baked in a 9-inch round or 8×8-inch baking pan.

For the dough:
4 large egg yolks
1 large whole egg
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
6 tablespoons (85 grams) butter, melted, plus additional to grease pan
3/4 cup (175 ml) buttermilk
Zest of 1 orange, finely grated
3 3/4 cups (470 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting counter
1 packet (7 grams or 2 1/4 teaspoons) instant dry yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons coarse or kosher salt, or more to taste
1 teaspoon oil for bowl

For the filling:
1 1/2 tablespoons (20 grams) butter
1 cup (190 grams) packed dark brown sugar
1 cup (115 grams) fresh cranberries (frozen can be used)
1/4 cup dried unsweetened cranberries
1/4 cup pecans, chopped coarsely
Zest of half an orange, finely grated

For the icing:
3 1/2 tablespoons (55 ml) orange juice
2 cups (240 grams) powdered sugar

For the dough:
In the bottom of the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the yolks, whole egg, sugar, butter, buttermilk and the orange zest together. Add 2 cups of the flour along with the yeast and salt; stir until evenly moistened. Switch to the dough hook and add the remaining 1 3/4 cups flour and let the dough hook knead the mixture on low speed for 5 to 7 minutes. The dough should be soft and moist, but not overly sticky. Scrape the dough into a large, lightly oiled bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. Let dough rise at room temperature until doubled, which will take between 2 and 2 1/2 hours.

Prepare the filling:
Melt the butter and set it aside. In a food processor, pulse the whole cranberries until they are coarsely ground, but not fully pureed. You will need to scrape the machine down once or twice. Set them aside.

Assemble the buns:
Butter a 9×13-inch baking dish, a heavy ceramic or glass dish is ideal here. Turn the risen dough out onto a floured work surface and roll it into a rectangle that is 18 inches wide (the side nearest to you) and 12 or so inches long. Brush the dough with the melted butter. Sprinkle it with the brown sugar. Scatter the ground cranberries, orange zest, and chopped pecans.

Roll the dough into a tight, 18-inch long spiral. Using a sharp serrated knife, very, very gently saw the log into 1 1/2-inch sections; you should get 12. Arrange the buns evenly spread out in your baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, or up to 16 hours.

The next morning, bake the buns: Take your buns out of the fridge 30 minutes before you’d like to bake them, to allow them to warm up slightly. Heat your oven to 350 degrees F. Bake your buns until they’re puffed and golden (the internal temperature should read 190 degrees F), approximately 30 minutes.

Transfer pan to a cooling rack and let cool slightly. Make the icing by whisking the orange juice and powdered sugar together. Spread a little on each bun, or drizzle it over the whole pan. Serve immediately.


I shoot, eat, and drink. My full time job is a hospital administrator. Moonlighting as a freelance photographer and food and travel writer.