Saturday, December 13, 2014

Sweet Orange Rolls for the Feast of Saint Lucia!

One of my favorite Christmastime traditions while growing up was celebrating the feast of Saint Lucia. This feast day is typically celebrated in Sweden by having a person (usually the eldest girl in the household) wearing a white robe, a red sash, and a wreath of lit candles upon her head serve special treats, rolls, or cookies to the other members of the house. While growing up, one of the sisters would take turns playing Saint Lucy and bring hot chocolate and generous slices of my Mom's delicious cherry coffee cake to everyone in bed. She also brought a candle for each dark room so we could eat our sweet breakfast by the flickering candlelight. We loved it - eating in the dark! What fun we would have all had if we had been born before electricity was invented! (I guarantee the fun would have ended there for me - since I am the one who is perpetually cold!)

Now, for our Saint Lucy celebration, I do not wear a wreath on my head or serve everyone in bed. We just have a special breakfast with as many candles as I can find lined up all over the counters and tables. Last year we even lit a fire in the fireplace. My kids love having the candles lit in the house, especially when the lights are out, so I thought they would really enjoy a special candlelit breakfast in honor of Saint Lucy Day this year. In the past, they haven't really cared so much.

Happy Matthew, super tired Emma.

In preparation, I made a sausage-egg casserole and some orange rolls. I assembled the casserole the night before and baked the orange rolls the afternoon before. All I had to do this morning was roll out of bed at 6:30, put the casserole in the oven, and then climb back into bed for another hour. It was perfect timing.

Matthew was very excited for the special breakfast - he was looking forward to those orange rolls! Emma was still not quite awake, but Paul brought her down anyway. I gave each kid a roll, we said grace, and then began to eat. And that's when things stopped being so fun.

Such a grump. She was not ready to wake up!
Matthew was so very excited! I just wish he had been better behaved!

Paul and I told Matthew that he had to at least try the egg casserole. He refused while stabbing madly at the small (tablespoon sized) portion of egg with his fork. We sent him to his room to think things through.

Then, Emma started whining and complaining and throwing things off her tray. We cleared everything off but she continued to complain and whine. We let her out, but she only whined further. We determined that she needed more time to wake up, so we put her upstairs in her crib.

Within five minutes of starting breakfast, Paul and I found ourselves sitting alone in the dark: "Well this is nice."

No worries, both grumps eventually  made it back to the table and finished eating. Maybe they'll sit through the entire meal with us next year!

On a perkier note, these rolls were extremely delicious! They are basically a cinnamon roll dough with a buttery orange filling instead of the traditional brown sugar and cinnamon. They are topped off with a simple glaze consisting of orange juice, zest, and powdered sugar that oozes into the rolls, keeping them moist and intensifying the orange flavor. I would take these over traditional cinnamon rolls any day - and I LOVE cinnamon rolls!

Sweet Orange Rolls
recipe from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

For the Dough:
¾ cup buttermilk, warmed
6 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
3 large eggs
4 ¼ cups (21 ¼ ounces) flour (approximately - you may need more or less!)
¼ cup (1 ¾ ounces) sugar
2 ¼ teaspoons instant yeast
1 ¼ teaspoons salt

For the Orange Filling:
1/2 cup softened butter
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
Grated orange rind/zest from two large oranges

For the Orange Glaze:
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice from about 1 orange
2 teaspoons grated orange rind

First, make the dough! Whisk the warmed buttermilk and butter together in a large liquid measuring cup. Combine 3 1/2 cups of flour, sugar, yeast and salt together in a standing mixer fitted with dough hook. With the mixer on low speed, add the buttermilk mixture and eggs and mix until the dough comes together, about 2 minutes. Increase the mixer to medium speed and knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. The dough will still be overly sticky, so just add 1 tablespoon of flour at a time until the dough clears the sides of the bowl but has a slight tacky feel when pressed between your fingertips. Be careful not to make the dough too dry! A little sticky is okay!

Place the dough in a large, lightly greased bowl and cover the top tightly with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled, around 2 to 2 ½ hours depending on the warmth of your kitchen.

For the filling, combine all the filling ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Set aside.

When the dough is ready, turn it out onto a lightly floured counter and roll it gently into a 16x12-inch rectangle. Gently spread the orange filling over the dough.

Lift the longest edge closest to you and begin rolling the dough into a tight log. Pinch the seam closed and roll the log so it is seam side down. Using a serrated knife, slice the log into 12 evenly sized rolls (this might seem a bit tedious - but persevere!). Place them down in a greased 13x9 glass baking pan. Cover the rolls with lightly greased plastic wrap. Let the rolls rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 to 1 ½ hours.

While the rolls are rising, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Bake the rolls at 350 degrees for 22-25 minutes or until the rolls are lightly golden on top and cooked through. While the rolls are baking, mix together the glaze ingredients. Drizzle the glaze over the warm rolls. Eat warm or at room temperature!


  1. As I have no stand mixer and my wrist is often painful, can I make this in my bread maker?

    1. I'm sure you could as long as your maker has a large enough capacity for a 4+ cup recipe. I don't have a bread maker, but I remember my Mom converting recipes for use in her bread machine all the time - mainly it had to do with the order the ingredients are added and sometimes reducing both the liquid and the yeast by a bit. I'm sure you know much better than me!

  2. My sister and I did St. Lucia once, I think we were inspired by the Kristen American Girl book. It was fun! Thanks for the recipe, they are now on my menu for Christmas morning!

  3. I think that's a wonderful tradition your Mother started. It's nice that you're keeping it up even though you have to tweak it a bit. Those orange rolls look delectable. No wonder Matthew wanted to dig right in. I don't blame him.