Monday, December 17, 2018

Cranberry-Orange Breakfast Buns

Next to Christmas and their birthdays, our kids look forward to their Feast Days more than any other day of the year. For those who are not Catholic and unfamiliar with the concept of feast days, each of our children is named after a saint of the church who functions as their patron. In our case, we have Saint Matthew the Evangelist, Saint Emma of Lesum, Saint Lucy, and Daniel the Prophet. When a person is declared a saint, a certain day during the calendar year is designated to function as the "Feast Day" of that saint, or a special day designated to acknowledge, commemorate, and remember them. Typically, a saint's feast day is the day of their death as it is the day in which they joined God in heaven. Saint Matthew's feast day is in September and Daniel's is at the end of July. Lucy and Emma's saints both have their feast days in December.

On their feast day, our children have the privilege of selecting their favorite meal for dinner as well as a dessert of their choice. Typically, without fail, every single one of our kids chooses not to have their loving mother who is actually a decent chef prepare dinner by requesting takeout pizza. I actually make pretty dang good pizza but they always explicitly request that the pizza must arrive at the dinner table packaged in a greasy cardboard box. Maybe their tastes will evolve one of these days.

But Lucy's feast day, which falls on the 13th of December, gets an extra-special event each year because hers is a particularly important feast day in both the eyes of the church and my family. Since I was a little girl, we always celebrated the feast of Saint Lucy, one of the greatest female martyrs, with a special candlelit breakfast. While I was growing up, usually the youngest girl helped Mom serve the rest of the household a breakfast in bed, but that slowly evolved into everyone awakening for a candlelit breakfast complete with a fully set table, some type of sweet bread or coffee cake. My protein loving husband required that I add in an egg dish of some sort because apparently we cannot survive on bread and sugar alone.

I typically change up what sweet we serve for Saint Lucy day. My Mom always made this Cherry Almond Coffee Cake growing up which still has my heart but I can't help but try new sweets when given the opportunity. So, this year I made these Cranberry-Orange Breakfast Buns that I spied on the Smitten Kitchen website. I love the combination of cranberry and orange and still had half a bag of frozen cranberries leftover from Thanksgiving that I knew I had to use up before someone accidentally spilled them all over the bottom of the freezer.

I loved how easy these, like any cinnamon roll, were to prepare and bake the next morning. Paul and I are typically up before 5:30 most mornings, so this did not require me to skimp on my sleep to ensure they were ready in time. The scent of orange zest and butter wafting through the house was a calming way for the children to awaken. Matthew was the first to wander downstairs: "OOOooooh! Mom! What are you making? It smells so good!"

When it came time for feasting, the girl of the day - Miss Lucy - felt very special indeed and loved her breakfast. Along with the Cranberry-Orange Buns, we served scrambled eggs, thick cut bacon, and hot cocoa. Everyone left the breakfast table filled to the brim. Except Matthew, who begged me for another one of these buns to eat. I can't blame him for trying to have another, these rich little sweets were certainly delicious and we all loved them. It was a nice change from the typical cinnamon roll and, in my opinion, possibly even better tasting. A very special treat indeed to be enjoyed on a special feast day!

Cranberry-Orange Breakfast Buns
from Smitten Kitchen

For the Dough:
4 large egg yolks
1 large whole egg
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
6 tablespoons (85 grams) butter, melted, plus additional to grease pan
3/4 cup (175 ml) buttermilk
Zest of 1 orange, finely grated (to be used in dough and filling, below)
3 3/4 cups (470 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting counter
1 packet (7 grams or 2 1/4 teaspoons) instant dry yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons coarse or kosher salt, or more to taste
1 teaspoon oil for bowl

For the Filling:
1 1/2 tablespoons (20 grams) butter
1 cup (190 grams) packed light brown sugar
1 cup (115 grams) fresh cranberries
Orange zest leftover from above

For the Icing:
3 1/2 tablespoons (55 ml) orange juice
2 cups (240 grams) powdered sugar
Zest of 1/2 an orange

In the bottom of the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the yolks, whole egg, sugar, butter, buttermilk and 3/4 of the orange zest together (saving the rest for the filling). Add 2 cups of the flour along with the yeast and salt; stir until evenly moistened. Switch to the dough hook and add the remaining 1 3/4 cups flour and let the dough hook knead the mixture on low speed for 5 to 7 minutes. The dough should be soft and moist, but not overly sticky. Scrape the dough into a large, lightly oiled bowl (I usually scrape my dough briefly onto the counter, oil the mixing bowl, and scrape the dough back into it) and cover it with plastic wrap. Let dough rise at room temperature until doubled, which will take between 2 and 2 1/2 hours.

Melt the butter and set it aside. In a food processor, pulse the whole cranberries until they’re ground to a coarse rubble, but not fully pureed. You’ll need to scrape the machine down once or twice. Set them aside.

Assemble the buns: Butter a 9×13-inch baking dish, a heavier ceramic or glass dish is ideal here. Turn the risen dough out onto a floured work surface and roll it into a rectangle that is 18 inches wide (the side nearest to you) and 12 or so inches long. Just estimate. If it is a little longer and thinner, it'll be just fine! Brush the dough with the melted butter. Sprinkle it with the brown sugar. Scatter the ground cranberries over it, then the remaining orange zest.

Roll the dough into a tight, 18-inch long spiral. Using a sharp serrated knife, very gently cut into 12 pieces. Arrange the buns evenly spread out in your baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or up to 16 hours.

The next morning, take your buns out of the fridge 30 minutes before baking and allow them to sit on the countertop to warm a bit.. Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Bake your buns until they’re puffed and golden (or read 190 degrees on an instant read thermometer), approximately 30 minutes.

Transfer pan to a cooling rack and let cool slightly. Make the icing by whisking the orange juice and powdered sugar together. Spread a little on each bun, or drizzle it over the whole pan. Serve immediately.

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