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Orange Buns

I want to believe that I grew up eating freshly baked cinnamon rolls for breakfast.  But for the life of me, I can't pull an example from anything in the depths of my memory. Hmmm.  I find that strange.  Because I love cinnamon rolls.  I think my earliest memories of cinnamon rolls may actually be during college.

 During that time (and high school for that matter) I worked in music stores.  The one I worked at for the longest period of time was in the mall.  What is pretty much synonymous with malls?  If you've ever walked through one, you've gotten an intoxicating whiff.  But in the wee hours of the morning...okay, maybe not that wee anymore, but to a college student it was wee...when you're loading the register and straightening the store and blasting the music while the gate is still down, that's when you begin to smell it.  That seductive cinnamon scent snaking its way down halls so empty they echo.  I always imagined that it could pick me up and carry me (all cartoony like...floating through the air while the waves of scent levitate me through my nostrils) to those gooey, warm, ridiculously fattening Cinnabons.  Sigh.  So big you had to eat them with a fork.  It was a form of torture to work by yourself some mornings.  Because you'd be trapped in the store.  Unable to make a mad dash down the hallway, through center court, turn right and go down another hallway practically drooling by the time you reach the storefront.  Which has the most customers of anybody in the whole place at this time.
Fast forward to the time immediately following college...and a short stint living in a hippie house in Milwaukee (...and worked at yet another music store...infinitely cooler and not in the mall) that I don't think has ever seen a cinnamon roll. You know that time frame when you I wind up back in your parent's home for a while. But all of my siblings are younger (as in anywhere from 7-12 years younger), so it wasn't like I was invading a quiet household or anything. Enter my first memories of cinnamon rolls at home.

Cinnamon Rolls. From a tube. You know the kind. You unravel the metallic paper and pop the cardboard open with the back of a spoon. Plus, you could get Orange Buns. Variety is the spice of life, afterall. I'm not knocking 'em. I liked them. Okay, I like them. I even made them for my own family for years. Until I discovered the glories of cooking with yeast a couple of years ago. And now I know, it doesn't get much better than homemade cinnamon rolls. Unless of course you're in the mood for Orange Buns. Subtract cinnamon (or leave choose) and add a mound of bright orange zest dripping with fragrant citrus oils. Add a side of salty bacon or meaty breakfast sausage...a few slices of sharp cheese. It's the breakfast of champions.
Orange Buns

by Heather Schmitt-González adapted from Saveur no. 144
Prep Time: overnight
Cook Time: 25-30 minutes
Keywords: bake breakfast dessert oranges

Ingredients (serves 12)
    • 1½ c. whole milk, lukewarm
    • ¼ oz. active dry yeast
    • ⅓ c. sugar
    • 1 oz. butter, melted
    • 1 tsp. sea salt
    • 1 egg
    • ~4 c. all-purpose or bread flour (or a mix)
    filling & icing:
    • 8 oz. butter, at room temperature
    • ½ c. light brown sugar, packed
    • ⅓ c. orange zest (from ~4 oranges)
    • ½ tsp. sea salt
    • 3 c. confectioners' sugar
    • 1 tsp. orange extract
    • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
    • 1 Tbs. freshly squeezed orange juice
    Combine milk and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Let sit until foamy, ~10 minutes.

    Stir in sugar, butter, salt, and egg. Add flour and mix on low speed until dough comes together. Increase speed to medium-high and let knead until smooth and elastic, ~8 minutes. If dough seems too sticky while kneading, add a bit more flour at a time until it is just tacky.

    Transfer to an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel. Let rise until doubled in size, ~1½ hours.

    filling & icing
    Beat softened butter, brown sugar, and orange zest in a bowl on high speed until smooth, ~2 minutes. Add salt, confectioners' sugar, orange extract and vanilla extract. Beat until smooth, another 2 minutes or so.

    Transfer ¼ c. of the filling to a bowl and stir in the orange juice. This is the icing. Transfer it to a small baggie and refrigerate until ready to use.

    Cover remaining filling and reserve at room temperature until ready to use.

    Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Using a rolling pin and your hands, roll and press dough into an 18" x 10" rectangle. Spread reserved filling evenly over dough. Lifting one of the long sides, begin tucking and rolling until you have a long "log". Trim the ends and cut into 12 rounds.

    Transfer rounds, cut side up, to a greased 9" x 13" baking pan. Cover with plastic wrap. Chill 6 hours or up to overnight.

    Preheat oven to 375° F. Uncover rolls and slide into oven. Bake until golden brown, ~25-30 minutes.

    Snip a small corner from the baggie of icing and drizzle over rolls while still warm. Enjoy!
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