When I mentioned these were in the works, you might’ve thought I’d take my basic cinnamon roll recipe and add some zest in the dough and the filling, and call it a day. Or perhaps you saw my lemon curd rolls and figured I’d just use my orange curd in place of that.
I went with neither. See the thing about orange juice, where it differs sharply from lemon juice for example, is that it can go in the dough. So instead of using water as I usually do to make the dough for the orange rolls, I developed a new dough recipe where I could use freshly squeezed orange juice in the dough – which will double down on that wonderful orange flavor we seek when we think ‘orange roll’!
There will still be zest in the filling and in the dough, of course, and then some more orange juice in the cream cheese glaze that goes on top. The result is the most orange a roll has ever been =)
Tangzhong: A chinese method used to make japanese milk bread, a tangzhong is cooking some of the four that’s to go into a dough with some of the liquid. It gelatinizes the starches so they can absorb more water, the bread will rise higher and stay softer and fresher for longer.
Orange Juice and Zest: Fresh for both! We’ve got zest in the dough, speckling it with bright orange bits, zest in the filling and a large portion of the dough’s liquid is actually fresh orange juice. This gives the dough an unmistakable ‘orange’ flavor. It’s not an accent, it’s the dominant flavor.
Brown Sugar and Orange Filling: While you could do a granulated sugar, and most orange roll recipes do, I considered that orange often pairs very well with most things that taste good with brown sugar (chocolate, apple, etc). Having brown sugar in the filling also gives it a little caramel like flavor, an ode to the original cinnamon roll.
Heavy Cream Bath: Something I picked up from Tastes of Lizzy T. Pouring a half of a cup of heavy cream over the dough right before it goes into the oven gives us more of that gooeyness and gives a softer overall bun.
Cream Cheese Glaze: Having orange juice in the icing is a given, and vanilla a happy addition. Adding cream cheese however gives it more tang and really complements the overall flavor.
Oranges: Any orange will do. I used navel in the photos and video pictured but you are welcome to use cara cara too. Blood oranges are great too though you’ll need more as they are smaller. Blood oranges will also give a slightly reddish tint to the glaze and dough.
If you are not using organic oranges, rub them well under water to clean the skin before ou zest.
Flour: Bread flour is great for cinnamon roll recipes given it’s slightly higher protein content. It’ll give the rolls more structure and chew as well. All purpose flour, as long as it’s not a very low protein content, will also work well.
Yogurt: I use a vanilla greek yogurt, full fat, which makes the dough extra fluffy and a little tangy. You can also use sour cream or plain greek yogurt, but be sure it’s full fat.
Yeast: Either instant yeast or active dry will do, if you use active dry add another ¼ tsp of it. Whichever yeast used, be sure to dissolve it into the liquid before adding it into the dough.
Oil: A flavorless oil works well here but if you like the combination of olive oil and orange feel free to use that. Melted butter also works though the dough will be a tad drier.
Heavy Cream: This isn’t super necessary but it does wonderful for the rolls to make the inside filling gooier and the bread itself fluffier. It goes into the pan right before the rolls are baked.
First we’ll make the tangzhong, the flour and water paste by simply cooking them together while whisking until they turn into a thick (but goopy) paste. Let this cool slightly before adding to the dough.
The second step to making this orange roll dough is to activate and dissolve the yeast: sprinkle the yeast over warm-to-touch water then sprinkle a bit of sugar over it (no more than a teaspoon) and give it a little stir. After a couple of minutes you’ll see the yeast has mostly dissolved and it’s foamy. If it hasn’t there could be something wrong with your yeast!
The rest of the ingredients, including the tangzhong you’ve set aside, all go on top of the yeast. I like to start with the flour then adding the remaining dough ingredients on top.
Knead the dough, starting on low and working up to medium until the dough mostly clears the bowl and has a mostly smooth surface. It can take up to 10 minutes to get there.
Deciding when to add it should be based on how you want the icing to be: do you want it thin and melted everywhere, adding to the goo factor? Add it right when the rolls come out of the oven. Do you like a thick layer of it on top, where it doesn’t touch the inside filling? Make a thicker glaze (add less milk or orange juice) and add it once the rolls are cool.
Keep them in an airtight container or they’ll dry out. If it has been a day since they’ve baked I’d warm them up in the microwave, 30 seconds at 100% power will soften them up nicely. I would say they won’t keep well after 48 hours.
You’ve got two options to make these a day ahead of time:
First rise overnight: After you’ve made the dough let it rise at room temperature for an hour. It won’t double (we don’t want it to) but it’ll have begun the rise or even gotten halfway. The rest you can do in the fridge overnight. In the morning, you’ll take the dough out and shape and proceed – bearing in mind the second rise will be longer than instructed below as the dough will first need to come up to room temperature before it rises.
Second rise overnight: In this scenario, you’re making the dough, doing a first rise and shaping all the day before. I’d give the dough about 30 minutes at room temperature then cover with plastic wrap to create a seal, then stick it in the fridge overnight.
Inspect them in the morning: does the dough look slightly puffy? Does it bounce back when pressed? Most likely you’ll want to give it 30-60 minutes at room temperature before baking. Don’t do the heavy cream bath until right before they are going into the oven.
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