Cranberry Cinnamon Buns
At my house, we call them Christmas buns. You can call them Christmas rolls, if you prefer—although you shouldn't feel limited to making them on December 25.
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter divided plus more for buttering pans
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1/3 cup milk divided
- 2 1/4 cup flour plus more for kneading and rolling
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 bag 16 ounces cranberries
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon or cardamom
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in 1/4 cup warm water (about 110°F). Let sit until foamy bubbles form on the surface, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, melt 1/4 cup butter in a pan over low heat and let cool just until warm.
To the yeast, add melted butter, granulated sugar, egg, 3 tablespoons of the milk, flour, and salt. Stir or mix in a standing mixer with a dough hook until smooth, 5 minutes. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour
Meanwhile, put the cranberries, brown sugar, cinnamon, and remaining 1/4 cup butter in a medium saucepan. Over medium-high heat, cook, stirring frequently, until the butter and sugar melt and the cranberries pop, 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a metal bowl and set aside to cool (it will thicken as it cools).
Butter a 9-inch cake pan. When the dough has doubled, punch it down and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll dough into a 1-ft. square, spread with the cranberry mixture. Roll dough into a log, pinching the seam to seal. Cut the log into 8 pieces and arrange, cut sides up, in a single layer in cake pans. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit until the rolls rise and their edges touch, about 1 hour. Alternatively, chill them overnight and let them come to room temperature before baking.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Remove the plastic wrap from the rolls and bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Let cool in pan 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the glaze: Whisk together the remaining 3 tablespoons of the milk and ¼ cup of the powdered sugar in a small bowl. Remove the rolls from pans and drizzle with half of this thin glaze. Add the remaining 1/4 cup powdered sugar to remaining glaze and drizzle the thicker glazer over the rolls. Serve warm if at all possible.
You can make the dough the day before and let the rolls rise in the refrigerator overnight for a super easy morning. Or make the dough and the filling the night before and roll them out in the morning. Note also that this recipe easily and successfully doubles—just double everything, including the number of pans, how big to roll out the dough, and how many rolls to cut, straight down the line.
Also, if you'd rather make a loaf of cranberry cinnamon bread, simply roll out the dough about 1/2-inch thick and as wide as the loaf pan is long. Roll it into a log and nestle it into the buttered loaf pan, cover and let rise until doubled in size. Bake until browned and cooked through, about 50 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes, turn out of the loaf pan onto a cooling rack, and ice once cool.