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Perfect Homemade Orange & Cinnamon Buns

Want to make the morning extra special? Why not make homemade sweet orange cinnamon rolls? This sweet roll variation has remarkable orange layers swirled into pillowy, delicate butter rolls.
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We drizzle ours with a light citrus icing for a touch of sweetness. This recipe uses a sponge method. It allows the yeast to become active before entering the rich dough. This step allows the dough to become fluffy and tender despite a higher sugar content that would usually stop the yeast activity. We use a little pineapple juice in the dough to compliment the orange and help the yeast. Finely zest your oranges with a micro-plane zester to avoid large chunks of orange in the smear. Some people prefer to add a little cinnamon to the filling. Some prefer just orange. You decide.

Perfect Orange Sweet Rolls

Sponge

1/4 cup Panhandle Milling All Purpose Flour

1 Tbsp. instant yeast, double strong

3 Tbsp. water

Dough

1/3 cup pineapple juice, canned

1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) softened, unsalted butter

1/3 cup brown sugar

3 large eggs

1Tbsp vanilla extract

3 cups Panhandle Milling All Purpose Flour

1 1/4 tsp. salt

Orange Smear

3 Tbsp. Fresh orange zest

½ cup sugar

¼ cup butter

1 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. cinnamon (optional)

Icing

2 Tbsp. orange juice concentrate

1-2 Tbsp. heavy cream

2 cups confectioners’ sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

Directions

  • Combine the sponge ingredients in the bowl of your stand mixer. Allow the sponge to rest for 15 minutes.
  • Add the pineapple juice, butter, brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla, mixing until well combined.
  • Whisk together the remaining flour and salt before adding to the liquid ingredients.
  • Mix and knead until the dough is cohesive and smooth; it’ll be very sticky at first. If you’re using a stand mixer, beat with the flat beater for about 3 minutes at medium-high speed; then scrape the dough into the center of the bowl, switch to the dough hook, and knead for about 5 minutes at medium speed. It may have formed a very soft ball but will still stick to the bowl’s bottom.
  • Lightly grease the mixing bowl or a large (8-cup) measuring cup. Roll the dough into a ball and place it in the bowl or measuring cup. Cover and let rise until very puffy, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
  • Lightly grease a standard sheet pan.
  • Gently deflate the dough. Roll out the dough on a well-floured surface to a rectangle 12 inches by 24 inches.
  • In a medium bowl, combine the orange smear ingredients and spread the smear in a thin layer over the surface of the dough, leaving a one-inch area clear at the edge of the 24-inch side. Roll into a tight log and pinch the edges together. Divide the log into 12 equal pieces by dividing it in half and then in halves again. Place the rolls about 1 inch apart on the greased baking sheet.
  • Tent the dough gently with lightly greased plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in the pan for 1 hour until it’s nicely puffy. Toward the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • Bake the rolls for 20 to 25 minutes or until the internal temperature reads 190°F on a digital thermometer.
  • Remove the rolls from the oven. You may coat it with melted butter if desired. After a few minutes, turn them out onto a cooling rack.
  • For Icing:

    • Whisk orange juice concentrate, cream, vanilla, and sifted confectioners’ sugar in a large bowl until it is thick and smooth.
    • Spoon icing evenly over buns; serve immediately.
  • Store leftovers well-wrapped at room temperature for several days; freeze for longer storage. Yield: 12 large buns