Apr 16, 2016

Cranberry Breakfast Buns, or "This is Not a Cinnamon Roll" Roll

Cranberry Breakfast Buns from Karen's Kitchen Stories

These cranberry breakfast buns are a pretty amazing way to take your favorite cinnamon bun recipe to another level.

During the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday season I love to stock up on fresh cranberries. They freeze beautifully, and I can cook and bake with cranberries all year long. I've even used homemade cranberry sauce to flavor steaks. One of my very favorite recipes for fresh cranberries is this cranberry crackle tart. So good.

Cranberry Breakfast Buns from Karen's Kitchen Stories

The dough for these buns is really interesting, in that it contains yeast, baking soda, and baking powder. That really doesn't make much sense to me, but I went with it anyway. As it turned out, these rolls are delicious.

The dough for these buns is super wet and and batter-like, a little bit frustrating to roll. Fortunately, it is also very forgiving, especially if you are not a perfectionist about having perfectly cylindrical swirly buns.  Because, again, these rolls are amazing.

Cranberry Breakfast Buns from Karen's Kitchen Stories

This month, the Bread Baking Babes were challenged to make "This is Not a Cinnamon Roll" Roll from Karen of Bake My Day. We were instructed to fill our rolls with anything sweet or savory... anything but cinnamon!

I dug out a couple of bags of cranberries from my freezer and pulsed them in my mini food processor a couple of times, mixed them with a bit of orange juice and sugar, and spread them across the rolled out dough. The resulting buns are so good. They actually stay very tasty and fresh for up to three days.

Note: The glaze is very thin, and disappears into the rolls. This only adds to their goodness.

Dear cinnamon. I'm sorry. You have met your match.

Cranberry Breakfast Buns from Karen's Kitchen Stories

Cranberry Breakfast Buns


For the dough:

2 cups room temperature milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
95 grams (1/2 cup) sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast (I used Red Star Platinum)
520 grams (4 cups) unbleached all purpose flour
65 grams (1/2 cup) unbleached all purpose flour, set aside to add later
1/2 heaping tsp baking powder
1/2 scant tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt

For the filling:

195 grams (2 cups) fresh or frozen cranberries
2 tablespoons orange juice
100 grams (1/2 cup) sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch or Instant Clearjel, optional, to thicken the mixture

Pulse the cranberries briefly in a food processor  to break them up but not completely. Drain any excess juice in a strainer (I skipped this step as my cranberries were not too watery). Mix the cranberries in a bowl with the orange juice and sugar. Stir in the optional thickener. 

For the glaze:

100 grams (1 cup) powdered sugar
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Whisk the ingredients together until combined. 


  1. Add the milk, oil, sugar, and yeast to a large bowl. 
  2. Add 4 cups of the flour to the bowl and mix with a dough whisk or spatula until combined. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise for an hour.
  3. Add the baking powder, baking soda, salt and the rest of the flour. Stir until combined. Cover again and refrigerate for at least an hour, and up to three days. 
  4. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and spray two 9 by 9 inch or 8 by 8 inch square cake pans with spray oil. A sheet cake pan would work too. 
  5. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and sprinkle flour on top of the dough. 
  6. Pat, roll (with a floured rolling pin), and stretch the dough out into a large and thin rectangle, about twice to three times as long as it is wide. Whatever technique works for you to achieve a large rectangle of dough. 
  7. Spread the cranberry filling evenly over the dough. 
  8. Using a bench knife or a dough scraper, fold the dough into a long cylinder, as you would for a cinnamon roll. The dough might stick to the work surface, which is why the bench scraper is important. 
  9. Cut the dough log/cylinder into 18 equal disks/pieces and place them, cut side up/down in the two cake pans in a 3 x 3 pattern. 
  10. Let rise for about 30 to 45 minutes. 
  11. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden, and the rolls reach an internal temperature of about 190 degrees F. 
  12. Spoon the glaze over the rolls while they are still warm. Let cool in the pan. 
The dough for this recipe was adapted from Pioneer Woman

Links to the rest of the Bread Baking Babes' version of this recipe are/will be listed below. If you would like to bake along with the babes as a Buddy, check out Karen's post. 

The Babes who baked along:
  • Feeding My Enthusiasms, who used honey, lemon, and lavendar 
  • Bake My Day, who used cream cheese, lemon zest, and vanilla, and made a second batch (her favorite) with spring onions, sundried tomatoes, feta cheese, walnuts, and balsamic vinegar syrup
  • Bread Experience, who used garlic, rosemary, and cheese, along with spelt
  • My Kitchen in Half Cups, who used butternut squash, bacon, apple, spinach, garlic, and walnuts 
  • A Messy Kitchen, who made them three ways, raspberry ricotta, caramel apple fritter, and maple bacon gingersnap
  • Blog from OUR Kitchen, who used apricots
  • Judy's Gross Eats, who used spinach, parmesan, and feta, and lots of other savory flavors
  • Notitie van Lien, who used tropical fruit, pistachios, toasted coconut, all in a coconut pastry cream


  1. I really need these in the morning ... maybe every other week and Christmas and New Years. So beautiful Karen!

    1. Aww. Thank you Tanna! Next Thanksgiving, I will definitely be stocking up on more cranberries. They freeze so amazingly well.

  2. Absolutely lovely! I could kick myself because I did not stock up on cranberries when they were in season, even though you advised me to do that at some point last year.

    I should have listened.... (sigh)

    1. Ha ha! I always go ga ga when I see fresh bags of cranberries and buy way more than I need. Now I am justified!

    2. You just wait... this year I'll go ga ga too!

  3. Beautiful rolls and setting Karen! I love the idea of making cranberry rolls. Your photos remind me of a candy striper.

    1. Thanks Cathy. I was a candy striper once... maybe for about 15 minutes =)

  4. I am in love with the gorgeous color in your swirls! Love the cranberries.

  5. Oh my goodness Karen, these are absolutely delicious indeed and I will be trying them soon , thank you for sharing the recipe.

  6. Well those are just about the most beautiful cinnamon rolls I've ever seen.

  7. Oh! Those look so good! (J'adore cranberry sauce....)

    Ha! Have you received a reply from cinnamon? Maybe you can ease its pain by saying that cranberry and cinnamon can share the podium. (I like to put a cinnamon stick and a couple of cloves into cranberry sauce.)

  8. Wow those look amazing Karen! We recently discovered some good quality frozen cranberries (cranberries are rare in Greece) and this is just the recipe we were looking for!:)
    Thank you for another excellent idea!

    1. I'm so excited that you have them available. They are wonderful! They freeze really well.

  9. I love cranberries! I bet these are a prefect sweet / tart treat. And the color is gorgeous!

  10. I absolutely love these rolls (or buns as I guess they are properly called.) I have too many frozen cranberries in my freezer, leftover from the fall, and was just thinking this weekend that I really need to use them up. Bingo! Perfect timing.

    1. Rolls/buns... either works for me! I'm kind of a frozen cranberry hoarder. This recipe is perfect!

  11. Wow that colour is so vibrant and appetizing, I love it.
    I'll steal your idea of this filling as I still have some cranberries wandering around in my freezer and this will be the perfect way to use them. (Should I thaw them before pulsing or just throw them in frozen?)

    1. I thawed them Lien. I imagine that frozen would work though!

  12. These look wonderful! I haven't had breakfast yet, but I'm craving one of these with my coffee. Perfect! xo, Catherine

  13. What an unusual dough... Is it a very soft consistency like Tzanghou?

    Found this when trying to decide what I could maybe do with fresh apricots to create a sweet bread. Any notions? Not sure if this recipe would be best for adapting for the use of apricots.

    I have been hiding behind the mixing bowl, following your bread blogging. Always love your posts. Thanks for the thorough recipe writing and beautiful photos! Would love to see a post on YOUR top ten fav breads on your site :)

    1. It's very soft, but not as airy as tangzhong. I think fresh apricots would be perfect actually! Thanks so much for your kind words. It would be so hard to pick my top ten!


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