A few weeks ago, I thought it would be fun to mix up a basic cinnamon roll recipe. I love a good holiday treat (or ten)! I have been on a huge orange kick, and just about everything in the last 2 months has had zest, or juice in it. Obviously it was time to combine cinnamon rolls and orange flavor. After an experimental batch, I finalized a delicious and soft cinnamon roll recipe with a slight crunch of finely chopped almonds and a smooth sweet glaze to pour over the top. I have two variations listed here for cooking. You can cook it on a cookie sheet or you can cook it in a cake pan with a canning jar (an oven safe jar) in the middle, and then serve it with the glaze in the middle.
Orange Almond Cinnamon Rolls:
makes two wreaths (one for you, and one for a friend! Or two to feed a crowd!)
Cinnamon Roll Dough:
adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe
2 cups milk (I used whole milk)
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbs instant yeast
5-7 cups all-purpose white flour
Heat the milk in the microwave until it is steaming. Remove and pour into a large bowl or stand mixer. Add the butter, sugar, salt and mix for a minute or two. Add the instant yeast and mix. Add the eggs and mix. Add the first 2 cups of flour and mix until they are incorporated. Mix in more flour 1/2 cup at a time until you have a slightly sticky dough. You may only need 5 cups, and you may need all 7. Grease a clean bowl and place the dough in the bowl. Cover it with greased plastic wrap and let rise until it is doubled in size, probably about an hour.
While the dough is rising, make the filling.
Once the dough has doubled in size, remove it from the bowl and divide it into two equal parts. Place 1 part back into the bowl and begin rolling out the other part on a lightly oiled countertop. You can also use the palm of your hand to spread the dough into a rectangle. Top with the 1/8 cup melted butter then liberally sprinkle the almond mixture over the dough.
Carefully roll up the dough, making a tight roll filled with the almond mixture. Carefully pinch the line where the end of the dough meets the roll to seal in the filling. Place on a silicone lined rimmed cookie sheet (you can also put the whole thing in a cake pan after you have made the cuts in the roll. See directions for that below). Take the roll and carefully form a ring out of it, gently pushing the two ends together so that it forms a wreath.
Now to make the wreath (here is good visual explanation in case a verbal one is insufficient. I did mine slightly differently, but the principle is the same) Around the outside edge, take a pair of scissors and cut most of the way through the roll, exposing the filling swirl on the inside. Make incisions like this the whole way around the ring, being sure to cut the dough into even sections. Carefully twist each cinnamon roll piece about 25 degrees to the right to showcase the filling.
If you prefer to cook it in a cake pan, so it looks more like a bundt cake, place the cut roll in a greased 9" cake pan and carefully put a glass canning jar in the middle. These restrictions will cause the dough to rise up.
Fill and roll the second part of dough that you set aside in the bowl.
Let the rolls rise in their pans for about 30 minutes.
Bake in the an oven preheated to 350°F for 25 - 35 minutes. When the top is beginning to brown, pull the pan out of the oven to check and see how the center looks through the glass canning jar.
Let cool for a few minutes. While it is cooling, make the orange glaze (see recipe below). If you have made your cinnamon rolls in a cake pan, you can put the orange glaze in a clean glass jar in the center of the cake to gift to friends.
1/4 cup almonds, finely chopped
zest of one large navel orange
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1 cup brown sugar
pinch of cinnamon
1/4 cup melted butter
Turn your oven to the broiler, put your almonds in a cake pan or small square pan and toast them for 3-5 minutes until they are lightly toasted. Put the almonds in a large bowl. Add the orange zest, cloves, brown sugar and cinnamon. Melt the butter in a separate bowl and set aside.
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup orange juice
1 Tbs cornstarch
2 Tbs unsalted butter
Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Set the saucepan over medium heat and bring it to a boil. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved into the water and a thin syrup has formed. In a small separate bowl, combine the orange juice and cornstarch and whisk until they are combined and all the cornstarch lumps are gone. Pour the orange juice mixture into the sugar syrup. Simmer for about 6-8 minutes. It should be relatively thick and sticky. Add the butter, let it come back to a boil for about 30 seconds, then remove from the heat. Let it cool slightly, then serve over the cinnamon rolls.
(this one was made on a cookie sheet)
(This one was made in a cake pan with a jar in the middle)