sweet orange buns

“OMG,” I texted my sister frantically. “WHAT.IS.HAPPENING.”

Earlier, I had decided that 2014 would be the Year of Yeast. 2013 was, undoubtedly, the Year of Pastry, in which I masochistically baked batch after batch of cold, flaky dough. That process, while nerve-wracking, was pretty simple; after a while, I knew my way around a pie tin pretty well. Yeast, however, was shaping up to be something else entirely.

I’d warmed the yeast in a bit of milk, disappointed when bubbles didn’t appear as promised. Soldiering onward, I’d mixed the ball of batter, placed it in an oversized mixing bowl, and left it, covered, to rise. This is where you find me now: home alone, scared, fully expecting the dough to rise out of its plastic prison and devour me whole.

At this point, I abandoned texting and hit dial instead. “Nancy! The dough… it’s fucking enormous. Ohmygod. Like, it’s going to burst out of the saran wrap.” I could almost hear my sister rolling her eyes on the other line. “Yeah, Julie, that’s normal. Just unwrap it, let it breathe and deflate a little. Okay? I’ll be home soon. Bye.” Click.

Obediently, I uncovered a few inches of the bowl. The dough within jiggled and retreated, catching the plastic wrap as it deflated slightly. I watched in amazement, prodding at the porous mass. Gummy. Springy. Kinda cute (?). Really cool. I was calmer now. “I can get down with this,” I thought.

The next morning, after seeing what this lump of fermented flour could do, I decided that I was definitely down with it. As I removed a pan of gorgeous sweet orange buns from the oven, nary a thought of yeast beasts popped in my head. All I felt was pure joy and admiration, having watched my little dough babies become full-blown, fully-risen cinnamon rolls. I’d been pining for these beauties since first seeing them; I’d dreamt of being woken up Christmas morning by their sweet orange scent. This holiday season, I made it happen — and I conquered over my fear of fermentation in the process. 2014: the Year of Yeast!

Sweet orange buns

Recipe adapted by Lottie + Doof from Saveur

Please see the link above for the recipe, as I made it to the letter. Here, I document (part of) the process! Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures of the dough before and after its rises… but that’ll lend this process an air of mystery, maybe.

Rolling out the risen dough: your arm workout for the day. Obviously you deserve a roll after such vigorous (and really, it is vigorous) exercise.


Smearing on the filling. We were pretty disgusted with this step, since it looks so unappetizing (kinda uncooked-pita-and-hummus-y) and decidedly non-dessert-like.


The addition of orange zest makes this significantly nicer, visually and gustatorily. Here the rolls are after being cut (I recommend using floss or wire for clean slices) and left to rise overnight in the pan.


After baking! I left them in 10 minutes longer than the recipe indicates, because I love overly browning everything.

Using fresh-squeezed OJ is highly recommended. You can really taste every ingredient (and its quality) in the topping.


Ready to be devoured (rather than do the devouring itself)!


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