This foolproof and versatile sweet roll recipe completes our series on holiday yeast breads. It uses a quick-rise dough which cuts down on the time spent waiting for the bread to rise. To keep things fast and easy, you can opt to coat the rolls in a sugar-cinnamon mixture. For a fancier treat, you can fill the rolls with a cream cheese mixture.
Because there is only one rise required, prepare the filling or topping first. Once the dough has been kneaded, it is ready to prepare for the oven.
Rather than baking these in a round cake pan or Bundt pan, the rolls are arranged on a prepared baking sheet in the shape of a Christmas tree. Slide the entire arrangement onto a serving platter after it is baked and slightly cooled to serve. These rolls make a delicious accompaniment to breakfast, or they can be a festive contribution to a holiday carry-in.
Christmas Tree Pull-Apart Rolls
2 8 oz pk. cream cheese, softened
2 tbsp. orange juice
1/2 c. granulated sugar
2 egg yolks
1 tbsp. grated orange zest
1 c. pecan pieces
Beat together cream cheese, orange juice and egg yolks until mixture is smooth and creamy. Mix in granulated sugar and orange zest. Fold in pecan pieces.
1 c. dark brown sugar
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/2 c. pecan or walnut pieces (optional)
1/4 c. melted butter
In small bowl, combine dark brown sugar, spices and nuts. Melt butter in a large, flat dish. Roll dough in melted butter, and then roll in sugar, coating thoroughly.
2 pk. active dry yeast
1/2 c. water (105-115 degrees)
1 1/4 c. buttermilk or clabbered milk
1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. granulated sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. salt
5 1/2 – 6 c. all purpose flour
In a mixing bowl, combine 2 c. flour, yeast and sugar. In a second bowl, whisk together 2 c. flour, baking powder and salt.
In a large microwave-safe cup, combine water, buttermilk and butter. Heat until liquids are very warm and butter has melted. Using electric mixer, slowly beat liquids into flour and yeast mixture. Increase mixer speed to medium-low and add eggs. Increase speed to medium and beat for 5 minutes.
Reduce speed and add flour and baking powder mixture. Incorporate completely, and blend in enough additional flour to create a ball of dough that is easy to handle.
Turn dough out onto floured surface. Knead for two minutes, until dough loses its gloss and springs back easily. Shape immediately into desired roll type.
For filled rolls, roll out to a thickness of 3/8″ and cut 15 circles using a 3″ cookie cutter or medium dumpling cutter. Place a spoonful of cream cheese filling in the center of the circle, fold dough over filling and pinch edges together. Place onto parchment-lined baking sheet in a triangular pattern, using 5 rolls at the bottom, 4 in the next layer, 3 in the third layer, 2 in the next layer and 1 at the top. Cover and allow to rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
For topped rolls, divide dough into 15 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball. Coat each ball with melted butter, and then roll into the dark brown sugar and cinnamon mixture. Arrange the rolls into a Christmas tree shape as above, cover and allow to rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake rolls for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow to cool slightly. The filled rolls can be dusted with confectioner’s sugar or frosted with buttercream or confectioner’s icing, if desired.