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Gratitude + Orange Rolls

First, some gratitude: Thanks to everyone who sent their good thoughts about Bryan’s grandma. The whole family was comforted by your kind words and warm wishes.

You also helped get me nominated for one of Saveur’s annual Best Food Blog Awards [1]. For the second year in a row (amazing!) I am nominated for best cooking blog [2]. I don’t normally go in for competitions like this—they just aren’t my thing. Everyone wants bloggers to enter competitions so that we send our readers to their website and they make money (sorry! I am getting old and cynical). Saveur very smartly subverts this (sort of) by getting the editors involved. The nominations are not just a popularity contest, the editors hand-selected the finalists. It is why I enjoy these awards and really value being nominated. I already feel like I won. All sorts of sites are finalists, both small and large. It is another instance of Saveur taking food, bloggers and writing more seriously than their peers. I love them for it. And yes, in the end we will encourage our readers to visit their site so they can make money—but at least they worked for it! I hope you will check out all of the blogs that have been nominated [3] and vote for the ones you like best.

In honor of the nomination, I bring you another fantastic recipe from the pages of Saveur. Like many of you, when I saw the photo of these Sweet Orange Buns (what a name!) a few months back, I knew I would make them. It took me a while, but this past weekend I finally gave it a go and was totally delighted with the results. I love them. LOVE. I will make them again soon.

They are not unlike the Pillsbury orange sweet rolls that come out of the tube. You know, the tube that pops open filling the kitchen with anxiety. Those industrially produced sweet rolls were good and an important part of my youth. I can honestly say that I have not popped open a can of pastry in many years and I am sure I wouldn’t be as enthusiastic about it now (maybe I would). This is the wholesome version of those rolls and you need to make them.

My dear mother believes in the power of the freezer. She freezes everything. Leftover paczki? Throw them in the freezer! Leftover cream pie. Throw it in the freezer! She also claims it tastes just the same after defrosting. Well, let me tell you, a frozen and thawed jelly doughnut does not taste just the same. But I should listen to her more often and since it would not be safe for Bryan and I to eat an entire pan of orange rolls, I (say it with me): Threw them in the freezer! I wrapped them individually in aluminum foil and reheated them in a 325° oven for about 12 minutes and you know what? They were just the same. They were perfect. So, long story short (too late?), you can freeze the baked and frosted rolls, which is good news if you don’t have 12 people to feed.

Sweet Orange Buns (adapted slightly from Saveur [4])

Make the dough: Combine the milk and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a hook; let sit until foamy, about 10 minutes. Stir in sugar, melted butter, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and egg; add flour, and mix on low speed until dough forms. Increase speed to medium-high; knead until smooth, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap; let sit until dough doubles in size, about 1 1/2 hours. Meanwhile, beat softened butter, brown sugar, and zest in a bowl (you’ll need to clean the bowl of your mixer before starting this step) on high speed of a mixer until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add remaining salt, confectioners’ sugar, and extracts; beat until smooth, about 2 minutes. Transfer 1/4 cup of the filling to a bowl; stir in orange juice to make an icing. I had trouble with this step, the icing “broke”, but it didn’t matter because it melted on the warm rolls anyway. Set filling and icing aside.

Transfer dough to a work surface; using a rolling pin, roll dough into an 18″ × 10″ rectangle, and spread filling evenly over dough. Lift up bottom edge of dough and roll it into a log; trim ends and cut log into 12 rounds. Transfer rounds cut side up to a greased 9″ × 13″ baking dish; cover with plastic wrap. Chill 6 hours or overnight.

Heat oven to 375°. Uncover rolls and bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Drizzle icing over rolls before serving.