Cranberry Cinnamon Sweet Rolls – soft, lightly cinnamony yeast rolls with swirls of homemade cranberry jam, topped with a cream cheese/butter frosting.
Homemade sweet rolls are just the best! Years ago, after my first attempts at using yeast in breads and getting past the hockey puck and heavy bread phase, I finally got pretty good with yeast dough.
This roll recipe is particularly easy because you don’t have to proof the yeast. You just need to make sure the water isn’t too cool or hot when you add the yeast to it.
If you don’t have a thermometer, the water should be very warm (but not hot) to the touch and that will be a perfect home for the yeast.
I’ve only lately started making jams and would have made them years ago if I’d known how easy it is!
Easy Steps to Make Small-Batch Fruit Jam:
- Add 1 1/2 cup of sugar and 1 1/4 cup of water to a medium pan.
- Bring to a low boil and stir until sugar is mostly dissolved.
- Add 2 1/2 cups of fresh or frozen fruit (cranberries, cherries, blueberries, etc.)
- Boil on low, uncovered for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently until thickened
- Pour into a container and let cool a few minutes before storing in refrigerator.
A tricky part of making yeast doughs is to know when the dough has been kneaded enough and not too much. The standard kneading time by hand is 6-8 minutes.
I prefer kneading dough in the stand mixer because it’s easier and way less messy. Just decrease the kneading time to 4-6 minutes. To check if it’s done, pull a little piece off and stretch it a little. It should ‘window pane’ or stretch until thin and see-through without breaking.
Another tip – if you’re rolling the dough and it keeps snapping back, let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes, then try again. It should be ready to roll out.
These Cranberry Cinnamon Sweet Rolls aren’t just easy to make – they’re very tasty, too!
I love the tartness of the cranberry jam, but you can make it with any seasonal (or frozen) fruit you’d like.
- For the Jam:
- 1 C sugar
- 3/4 C water
- 2 1/2 C fresh or frozen cranberries
- 1 tsp grated orange peel
- For the Dough:
- 2 pkgs (1/4 oz ea.) active dry yeast
- 1/2 C warm water (around 110° - very warm to touch)
- 1/2 C plus 2 tablespoons butter, softened and divided
- 1/2 C milk, room temperature
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 1/2 C sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 4 1/2 to 5 C all-purpose flour
- For the Frosting:
- 1 C powdered sugar
- 1 1/2 oz cream cheese, softened
- 5 tbsp butter, softened
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- 2 tsp milk (or more for thinning frosting if needed)
- In a medium saucepan, bring sugar and water to a boil. Add the cranberries and return to a low boil on medium. Low boil for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently, until jam thickens.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the orange peel. Let cool for 10 minutes, then refrigerate to cool completely, while you're making and proofing the dough.
- Place dough hook on mixer. Add the warm water, then yeast to a stand mixer bowl and stir to combine. Add 1/2 cup of the butter, milk, eggs, sugar, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg to the yeast mixture. Add 3 cups of the flour all at once to the bowl and mix on low until blended. Add 1/2 cup at a time of the remaining flour, until it forms a soft dough. Dough will be slightly sticky, but should pull slightly away from the walls of the bowl. (I used about 4 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons).
- Lightly flour your counter or marble and your rolling pin. Turn out the dough onto the floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, 6-8 minutes. (Alternative: leave in your mixing bowl and mix on low for 4-5 minutes until smooth and elastic.)
- Make a ball out of the dough and place in a greased bowl, turning to grease the dough ball. Cover the bowl and place in a draft-free place for 1 hr to 1 hr 20 minutes until about doubled.
- Lightly flour your counter or marble again. Punch down the dough, then turn out onto your floured surface. Roll into a 20" x 10" rectangle. Melt the remaining 2 tbsp of butter and brush it liberally over the dough to the edges.
- Spread the dough evenly with the cranberry jam, out to about 1" from the edges. Roll up jelly roll style, starting with the long edge (doesn't have to be rolled tightly). Pinch the seams to seal.
- Cut the roll into 15 slices and place, cut side down, into a greased 13"x9" baking pan. Cover and let rise for about 30 minutes in a draft-free, warm area, until about doubled. Preheat your oven to 375° while buns are rising.
- Bake the rolls for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown on top. Cool for 5-10 minutes in the pan. Turn out the rolls onto a wire rack and while they're still warm, put the frosting together.
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine the powdered sugar, cream cheese, butter, vanilla, salt and milk until smooth. Add additional milk 1 teaspoon at a time if needed to thin it out. It will be fairly thick.
- Store leftover rolls in the refrigerator in a sealed container.
Tips and Stuff:
Be sure and have all of your ingredients ready and the cold ingredients softened and/or room temperature before beginning.
You can knead your dough by hand or with the stand mixer. If you're using the mixer, decrease the kneading time as indicated.
Use any fruit you would like - blueberries would be good; cherries would be great!
Nutrition Information:Yield: 15 rolls Serving Size: 1 roll
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 868Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 43mgSodium: 235mgCarbohydrates: 173gFiber: 6gSugar: 29gProtein: 21g
Nutrition Values are Approximate