Blog Flog: Cranberry-Orange Cinnamon Buns


Somehow it came to be November – before I even managed to settle into October – and because I was out of town for much of last month – and because THIS WEEK – I just want to putter around the house and bake.

Also – this is the week we usually pack up and head to Jasper for Christmas in November for 10 days – and having spent the past 14 years with that block of holiday fun on the calendar, we’re going into withdrawal. To that end, we’ve planned some fun things to do around here, including digging out some Christmas movies to watch on a weekend morning.


And so we pulled out the Christmas box early and rummaged through for the Grinch and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer – the Saturday morning classics. And of course The Snowman, a little-known but fabulous movie based on a wordless kids’ picture book by English author Raymond Briggs. It was nominated for an Oscar, even – and the main song we played at our wedding 20+ years ago. (We got married on December 23rd.)


One of my favourite things about snowy (or rainy, or sunny) weekend mornings is having extra time to make breakfast – and so in keeping with the holiday theme, we made cinnamon buns – spiked with orange zest and studded with Patience Fruit Co. dried cranberries, who asked us to partner for this post – ironically, the email came in as W sat at the kitchen computer eating them straight from the bag.


They’ve become his snack of choice, tart dried cranberries, and became a staple of our grocery store trips (we started buying two bags at a time, even), far before they asked us to come up with a recipe using them. They’re soft and not too sweet – so many dried cranberries are one-dimensional, but I like the slight tartness and acidity, especially in cookies, granola, and sweet things like gooey cinnamon buns.


Cinnamon buns are a good sort of thing to make when kids are involved – the science of the rise, the punching down of the dough, the rolling and sprinkling and rolling again. Spreading it out over the course of the morning makes it an event – but if you plan to make these for a special brunch or Christmas morning, they can be assembled and refrigerated overnight, slowing the rise – take them out of the fridge and let them sit on the countertop while you preheat the oven and make coffee, then slide them in to bake.


My favourite part is splattering the finished rolls with a quick glaze and admiring them before upending them onto a plate to pull apart among the pillows and blankets.



Besides the eating, the splattering is the best part.


Cranberry-Orange Cinnamon Buns


November 10, 2016



1/4 cup (60 mL) warm water

2 tsp. (10 mL) active dry yeast

1/4 cup (60 mL) sugar

1/2 cup (125 mL) milk, warmed

1 large egg

2 1/2 cups (625 mL) all-purpose flour

1/4 cup (60 mL) butter, at room temperature

1/2 tsp. (2 mL) salt

For the pan:

1/4 cup (60 mL) butter

1/2 cup (125 mL) packed brown sugar

1/4 cup (60 mL) maple syrup

2 Tbsp. (30 mL) water


2 Tbsp. (30 mL) butter, melted

1/2 cup (125 mL) dark brown sugar

1/2 cup (125 mL) Patience Fruit Co organic dried cranberries

grated zest of an organic orange

1 tsp. (5 mL) cinnamon


1/2 cup (125 mL) icing sugar

1-2 Tbsp. (15-30 mL) orange juice or milk


1To make the dough, put the warm water in a large bowl (or the bowl of your stand mixer) and sprinkle with the yeast and a pinch of the sugar. Let stand 5 minutes, or until the yeast is foamy. (If it doesn’t foam, toss it and buy fresh yeast.)

2Add the milk, egg, 2 cups of the flour, butter, salt and remaining sugar to the yeast and stir by hand or with the dough hook attachment of your stand mixer until the dough comes together. Add the rest of the flour until you have a slightly tacky dough. Continue to knead with your dough hook or by hand on the countertop until the dough is smooth and elastic. Cover and let rest for an hour, or until doubled in bulk. (At this point, you could refrigerate the dough overnight and continue assembling the buns the next morning.)

3In a small saucepan, combine the butter, brown sugar, maple syrup and water and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Pour into the bottom of a pie plate or 9-inch round or square cake pan.

4On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a 10x15-inch rectangle. Brush with melted butter and scatter with brown sugar; smooth the sugar to evenly distribute it with your hand. Sprinkle with dried cranberries, orange zest and cinnamon.

5Starting on a long side, roll the dough up into a log. Using a serrated knife, cut it crosswise into thirds. Cut each piece into thirds – this is easier than eyeballing it to get 9 even pieces. Place the rolls cut-side-up into the pans, placing one in the middle and the rest around it, or in the case of a square pan, in 3 rows of 3. Cover with a tea towel and let rise for another hour, until doubled in bulk. (If you’re making them the night before, cover and place in the fridge for a slow rise; take them out and leave them on the countertop for 1/2 hour or so before baking.)

6When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350?F. Put a baking sheet on the rack underneath (to catch any drips) and bake for 30 minutes, or until deep golden. Let cool for 5-10 minutes, but invert onto a plate while still warm. (If you wait too long and they get stuck in the pan, slide back into a hot oven to rewarm, then try again.)

7To make the icing, stir enough orange juice into the sugar to make a drizzling consistency. Drizzle over the buns. Makes 9 cranberry-orange cinnamon buns.


Thanks to Patience Fruit Co. for giving me a fun challenge using dried fruit we already love, and for helping keep the lights on.


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4 comments on “Blog Flog: Cranberry-Orange Cinnamon Buns

  1. esmeralda
    November 13, 2016 at 12:05 am

    I drooled on my keyboard, for reals. These look SO delicious.

    • Julie
      November 14, 2016 at 11:15 am

      Thanks Esmeralda! They were. 🙂

  2. Elizabeth
    November 14, 2016 at 2:24 am

    I love your rolling pin! It is gorgeous. Where did you find it?

    • Julie
      November 14, 2016 at 11:13 am

      Isn’t it gorgeous?? It’s from Adrian Martinus – a pair of brothers in Calgary who make furniture and stuff out of old skateboards and reclaimed wood. http://www.adrianmartinus.com/

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