My Grandma’s Orange Rolls

How is it almost Christmas already?? Wasn’t it just Thanksgiving, like, yesterday?

Apparently the past few weeks have been busy for me because I have some blogging to catch up on! Let’s pretend (please!) that Thanksgiving really was yesterday and we’re just getting over the uncomfortable fullness that is an inevitable consequence of Thanksgiving (at least in my family–everything just tastes so good!!).

How do you start off the next morning? By eating more, of course! And not many breakfasts are better than these orange rolls:


If you’ve never had orange rolls, imagine a cinnamon roll, without the cinnamon, stuffed with a mixture of sugar and orange zest. My grandma has been making orange rolls for as long as I can remember–she’d always have a pan or two of these guys in the freezer that we could beg for when we were at her house. According to my dad, these were one of the first things he remembered making with her growing up, so they’ve been a family staple for a very long time (and with good reason)!

To make these, I even used my grandma’s recipe, typed neatly on a notecard that my parents have had for a long, long time.


Anyways, I figured that since I went all the way home for Thanksgiving, and Thanksgiving is all about family, they were a fitting breakfast to make. So, when Junior came romping into my room at 5:30am, I let him out to explore my parents’ backyard as I got the dough together. Junior was a little wired the whole time we were at my parents’, probably because we had to drive 5 hours to get there and he hates the car. That was one of the things they told me when I adopted him: “won’t jump in cars”, something I initially ignored but became mighty apparent when I had to heave all 70 pounds of him into the car each time we tried to go somewhere. I started luring him into the car with treats but that maybe backfired on me because now whenever I want him to get in the car, he will sit on the ground staring at me until I go back inside and get him a treat. Then he’ll jump in. Apparently I’m the one who’s been trained in this situation.

Regardless, he loved the freedom of my parents’ backyard and his ability to come and go whenever he pleased. So, content that he could entertain himself, I made the orange roll dough, set it aside to rise, and went back to bed until it was ready to be rolled out.

After rolling the dough out, you dip each piece in butter and an orange/sugar mixture to coat every part of it. It covers the whole roll so, unlike with a normal cinnamon roll, you don’t need a glaze for these. If you’d like to make one, though, it definitely couldn’t hurt.

Once I rolled and dipped the rolls, I set them aside for their second rise and got Junior all ready for the Apple Cup. For any of you that live outside of Washington, the Apple Cup is the annual rivalry football game between the University of Washington Huskies and the Washington State University Cougars. My dad and brother are diehard cougs while Dan, Junior and I all root for the huskies:




The Huskies won (not to rub it in, or anything…) but sorrows on the losing side were appeased by the deliciousness that is orange rolls.

So, bring your family together around a recipe tradition like orange rolls or start a new tradition! I hope one day my kids and grandkids have a favorite recipe that I once made. Who knows? Maybe it’ll still be orange rolls!

Orange Rolls
makes 36 rolls

1 package dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water

4 tablespoons shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 egg, room temperature
1 cup warm water
4 cups flour, divided
1/3 cup dry milk powder
Extra flour for kneading

1/2 cup butter, melted
2 cups sugar
Zest of 2 oranges

Soften the yeast in the first 1/4 cup of warm water (about 120 degrees). In a warm mixing bowl, blend the shortening, sugar, salt, and egg. Add the remaining 1 cup of warm water and blend. Make sure the mixing bowl is not too cold (if it seems cold, you can place it in a warm water bath for a little while–you just don’t want it so cold that it’ll kill the yeast) and add the yeast mixture to the shortening mixture and stir. Add in 2 cups of the flour and the dry milk powder. Combine well before adding the 2 remaining cups of flour and mix as well as possible. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes, adding more flour as necessary. Place the dough into a greased bowl and let it rise until it has doubled in size, about an hour and a half.

After the first rise, melt the butter in one bowl and combine the sugar and orange zest in another. Grease 3 pie pans. Roll out the dough into a large rectangle and cut into quarters. Cut each quarter into 9 strips for a total of 36. For reference, my strips were approximately 1″x6″, maybe a little longer. Dip each strip into the melted butter then into the orange/sugar mixture and loosely tie the strip in a knot, placing 12 strips in each pan.

Let the rolls rise again until they double in size (an hour or an hour and a half), and bake at 400 degrees (375 if using glass pie pans) for about 12 minutes until the tops are lightly brown. Cool and enjoy!




5 thoughts on “My Grandma’s Orange Rolls

  1. Awesome blog post as always!! That last picture of the single roll is really great too. I am thinking maybe you can make some more when you come home over Christmas and we take them to Gub on Christmas morning? Not sure I approve of Jr’s attire during Apple Cup and perhaps in fairness you could have show Gryff with his Cougar shirt? Keep up the good work!

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