Orange Zest Cinnamon Rolls

Whatever your situation is in life- whether you’re working full time, you just had a baby, or you’re hustling around the clock to get your business up and running-  we can agree that weekends are a mandatory requirement to resetting your mind, body and soul.

Weekends were made for decompressing, de-stressing and for giving yourself the break you deserve. Weekends are the time to go see that movie, get that massage or use up your produce by baking a delicious, comforting recipe.

When I made these orange zest cinnamon rolls, I myself was needing to decompress and reset myself mentally. With no television on and the world’s distractions off, I labored over the dough with nothing but my thoughts and my favorite music playing in the background. After being incredibly busy the last few weeks, I wanted to give myself the opportunity to decompress and spend time to myself, because I deserved it.

Orange Zest Cinnamon Rolls

Orange Zest Cinnamon Rolls

I posted a preview of these cinnamon rolls on my Instagram a while back, so I’m happy to finally be sharing this recipe after many of you asked for it. I’ve made this recipe a couple times before and I really enjoy the thickness of these rolls.  The sweet, flavorful center of the cinnamon filling has the perfect amounts of zest and the hints of orange pair perfectly with the vanilla cream cheese frosting. I actually split the dough in half and made both orange zest and maple walnut rolls, because hey- why not? The maple-walnut rolls are equally as delicious with an added crunch.

I suggest making the dough and filling the night before (maybe your next Friday night in?) and saving it for the next morning- that way you can just pop the rolls in the oven and whip up the icing, then enjoy your weekend decompressing and giving yourself time to recharge.

Orange Zest Cinnamon Rolls

Orange Zest Cinnamon Rolls
makes 16 buns

for the dough:
1 package (or 2 1/2 tsp) active dry yeast
3/4 cup whole milk, warmed (110 F)

1/4 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
6 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into chunks

for the filling:
4 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into chunks
2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
finely grated zest of 1 large orange
1 egg, lightly beaten with 1 tsp water

for the vanilla cream cheese frosting:
1/2 lb cream cheese, at room temperature
4 tbsp unstalted butter, at room temperature 

2 tsp pure vanilla extract 
1 cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted.

For the dough:

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, dissolve the yeast in the warmed milk and let it stand for about ten minutes.
2. Once the yeast has become foamy, add the granulated sugar, eggs, 4 1/2 cups flour and salt. Attaching the dough hook on the stand mixer, knead the dough on low speed, adding a little more flour if needed, until all of the ingredients are incorporated. 
3. Toss in the butter and continue kneading the dough until smooth and springy, about 7 minutes. 
4. Lightly oil a large bowl. Form the dough into a ball, put it in the oils bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise at room temperature until it doubles, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

For the rolls:
1. Butter a 9-by-13 inch baking dish. Punch down the dough and turn out onto a lightly floured work surface, then cut the dough in half.
2. Roll out 1 dough half into a 9 by 14 inch rectangle. Spread with half of the butter, than sprinkle evenly with half of the brown sugar, half of the cinnamon and half of the grated zest.
3. Starting at the long side closest to you, roll the rectangle away, forming a log. Cut the log crosswise into 8 equal slices. Arrange the slices, cut side down, in half of the prepared pan. Repeat with the remaining dough  and filling ingredients and arrange the slices in the other half of the pan. Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm, draft-free spot until puffy, about 1 hour, or refrigerate overnight. then let stand at room temperature for 30-60 minutes before baking.

For the vanilla cream cheese frosting: 
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about two minutes. 
2. Gradually beat in the sugar and continue to mix until thoroughly combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. 
Use right away, or if the consistency is too soft, refrigerate the frosting until it is spreadable, about 15 mins. The frosting will keep in the refrigerator for up to three days before use.

Baking the cinnamon rolls:
1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400F. Brush the buns lightly with the beaten egg. Bake until the rolls are golden brown and a tooth pick inserted into the center of a roll comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes.
2. Let the rolls cool slightly in the pan on a wire rack, then spread with the frosting while they are still warm. Pull the rolls apartment and enjoy.

Maple Walnut Cinnamon Rolls

To make maple walnut cinnamon rolls, substitute the orange zest in recipe above for 2/3 cup chopped walnuts and 1/4 cup of maple syrup. Continue with recipe directions with these substituted ingredients. 

recipe adapted from Williams Sonoma’s Home Baked Comfort cookbook.

What is your favorite way to decompress during the weekends? 

orange zest cinnamon rolls

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  • YUMMM!! I’m a huge fan of 1) cinnamon rolls and 2) putting orange zest on EVERYTHING!! Definitely trying this 🙂