Saturday, December 3, 2011

Christmas food ideas: Cranberry rolls

According to Wikipedia, cranberries are a source of several vitamins, micronutrients and antioxidants, and may have benefits for cardiovascular health, immune functioning, kidney functioning, and as anti-cancer agents.

I suspect these benefits are most potent in raw, unsweetened cranberries, but I think we could argue they extend to these cranberry rolls too.

Or at least, I'm going to argue that because I have eaten rather a lot of these and I'm looking forward to eating more.

Like a cranberry version of a fruit bun, these are slightly sweet without being too sweet, and have a bready texture that is worth the kneading and rising time. I think they would be a perfect addition to Christmas breakfast or brunch, or at Christmas themed picnics.

The fact that I recommend these after making a complete mess of our kitchen, and getting dough irretrievably stuck in the bottom of my KitchenAid dough blade, probably says a lot too. They were worth the mess!

Cranberry rolls
Makes approximately 20 rolls
Adapted from cranberry nut rolls at Tracey's Culinary Adventures


3 1/2 cups + 1/2 cup bread flour
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp yeast
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups soy milk (or non-dairy milk of choice)
2 tbsp oil
Egg replacer to the equivalent of 1 egg (or 1 egg)
2 cups dried cranberries (~170g) (mine were sweetened but unsweetened would work well if you can find them and want a lower sugar option)
~1 tsp brown sugar, extra, optional


Combine the 3 1/2 cups bread flour, brown sugar, yeast and salt in a large bowl, a food processor with dough blade attached, or a stand mixer with the paddle attachment.

Beat the dry ingredients together briefly, to combine, either using your food processor / mixer or by hand.

[I used a food processor with dough blade.]

Warm the milk to 35'C, if you have a thermometer, or for ~30 seconds on medium power in the microwave, until warm to the touch, if you don't. 

[I did the latter. I'm grateful these still worked out.]

Whisk the warmed milk and oil together. Prepare the egg replacer (or egg) and whisk this in with the milk and oil.

Gradually add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients, beating on low speed. Continue beating for approximately 1 minute, until a wet dough comes together.

Add the cranberries to the dough mixture.

If you are using the dough blade in a food processor, continue beating with the dough blade to knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic, about 4 minutes.

If you are using a stand mixer, swap the paddle attachment for the dough hook and beat on low speed to knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic, about 4 - 6 minutes.

If you are working by hand, knead your dough manually until smooth and elastic. 

Whilst kneading, add the extra 1/2 cup flour gradually.

When the dough is well-kneaded and smooth and elastic, transfer to a large bowl sprayed with cooking oil spray. Cover with plastic wrap and leave to rise for 2 hours.

[I actually left my dough to rise for 4 hours in this step, because I started this before we went out to run errands. Not brilliant planning. Again, I'm grateful these still worked out. I think they're resilient rolls.]

Line 2 baking trays with non-stick baking paper.

When the dough has risen, roll into 20 small balls. Place these on the lined baking trays and spray with cooking oil spray. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for another 1 1/2 hours. 

[Because of my 4 hour rising time earlier, I skipped the 1 1/2 hour rising here and went straight to the next step. Feel free to follow the original steps or take my haphazard approach.]

 Pre-heat the oven to 220'C. Sprinkle the rolls with extra brown sugar, if desired, and allow to rise for another 15 minutes.

Place the rolls in the oven and reduce the heat to 200'C. 

Bake for 15 - 18 minutes, until slightly golden.

I checked my rolls at 15 minutes, thought they could do with a little longer, went back at 18 minutes and found them just a little too golden. Check regularly after 15 minutes!

This recipe sounds complicated, but it really isn't. The hardest part is kneading the dough / cleaning up after the kneading, and allowing time for the rolls to rise. As I noted, the result is definitely worth the time required.

I found that the rolls were quite fluffy and light on the day they were baked, and didn't seem that different to baked goods made without yeast. However, by the second day they were more like rolls, with a chewier and doughier texture.

Quite delicious!

Tracey's original recipe had 1 cup of cranberries and 1 cup walnuts, and that would be a less sweet alternative if you like nuts in baked goods. I think adding some orange juice would be a nice flavour combination too.

Do you have any favourite uses for cranberries?

Expect more Christmas themed recipes over the next few weeks :)


  1. these would be great at a christmas brunch - or anytime really - love fruit buns and even more so with interesting dried fruit - will look forward to more christmas posts - I have made a christmas cake which includes cranberries and I can't wait to taste it but am letting it mature! will probably put cranberries in my christmas pud too when I finally get around to making it

  2. Those look really good... I love breads and scones and such with things like that baked in!
    I've never cooked with cranberries, myself. When I lived in Massassachusets (I can not remember how to spell that!) there was a cranberry juice company- the main one that gets shipped all over America- and we went on a tour there. That's about my only experience with cranberries.

  3. These sound lovely Kari. Christmas time ...or any old time. I've haven't really played with cranberries before.

  4. As someone who avoids hot cross buns like the plague because of the dreaded peel inside, I find myself wishing these were around at Christmas time! And yes, I want to slather a warm-from-the-oven one with peanut butter :)

  5. Oooh yummy! I don't think these will fit in to our Christmas plans but maybe perfect for the Christmas in July that I really, truly, finally am going to do next year!

  6. I LOVE cranberries!!!:) They are healthy, perfect, tasty and just yummy....and I want one of these now; your rolls with cranberries I mean :D

  7. Thank you Johanna - and lovely to hear you've been putting cranberries in things too :) I think I'm in an odd majority in that I don't like Christmas cake or pudding (it's the peel! and possibly also other things) but I may well like a version with cranberries.

  8. That tour sounds incredibly fun - a pretty good experience with cranberries if you're going to have just one :) Although I do recommend expanding your experience too, as they're a pretty fun addition to baking!

  9. I haven't either, a lot, but I think I may keep them in my repertoire after Christmas is over :)

  10. That does sound like a good serving suggestion! In fact, I'm wishing I'd tried that now - and wondering again why I don't just consult you before all my baking efforts, so you can advise on the best serving possibilities :P Although I may be learning your tricks...add peanut butter and all is good.

  11. Christmas in July is one of those things I love the idea of and also never do. Maybe you can motivate me to get organised next year...or at the very least, make these again :)

  12. Thanks Christy :) I'd like to send you one electronically but the internet is sadly lacking that way.

  13. there is no peel in my cake but I am planning to make pudding this year and that will probably have peel - I used to dislike peel but now i love it

  14. Am I that transparent? (Pick the movie!)

  15. Oops, just realised I wrote 'odd majority' instead of 'odd minority'. Hopefully you figured out what I meant. Your cake is sounding increasingly like one I might enjoy - no peel + cranberries makes for a good combination in my world :)


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