Soft, buttery rolls made with orange zest and a citrus glaze make these Knotted Orange Sweet Rolls the perfect choice for Easter brunch or Easter dinner!
My sister-in-law, Deborah, has been one of my biggest supporters since I started House of Nash Eats, so when she texted me a couple weeks ago to say that she thought her grandma’s Knotted Orange Sweet Rolls might be good for this blog and would I like the recipe?, my answer was a definite, “Yes please!”.
I’ve had these before when she has made them at our in-laws’ house and these knotted little beauties are soft and light and brushed with a sweet orange glaze that make them extra special. But I had forgotten how absolutely incredible they are until I made them again this past Sunday when we had friends over for dinner.
When the Mr. and I started dating, I was introduced to Deborah, Paul’s younger brother’s girlfriend. She was “waiting” for Dave (the younger brother) who had just left to serve a two-year mission for our church and Deborah and I quickly became friends and even ended up taking some classes together at BYU. She did the super competitive accounting program there, so she’s basically brilliant and insanely talented. Deborah is all sorts of amazing in general and I’m really lucky to have her for a sister-in-law, especially since she does things like learns all about photography and then gets me hooked on it. So now we geek out over photography projects and camera stuff whenever we are together (or over texts whenever we are not since they are in Colorado and we are in California).
Anyway, Deobrah’s recommendation alone is enough to try these stunning little showstoppers. (And besides, I’m a sucker for warm, fresh rolls if you remember this Cheesy Garlic Mozzarella Swirl Rolls I posted about last year!) And seriously, these gorgeous, citrusy knots are just amazing! And so pretty and festive looking with bright little spots of fresh orange zest in the rolls and the glaze that goes on top.
Just the scent of the orange zest and the freshly baked, buttery rolls is enough to start anybody drooling. But then you go and top the fluffy, light knots with a citrus glaze and it’s practically impossible not to tear into the rolls before the glaze has a chance to set. You could skip the glaze if you just want more of a traditional dinner roll that has only subtle orange flavor from the zest of an orange or two. But honestly, they are perfection with the glaze on top.
Knotted orange sweet rolls are one of those easy-fancy recipes that are perfect for holidays or parties because they look impressive all twisted into knots but they don’t take much time and aren’t hard to make at all. With orange in season right now, this is the perfect time to give them a try! They are perfect for Easter dinner and look absolutely beautiful piled up on a plate on the table. But I know Deborah’s family makes them at Thanksgiving and Christmas and for church functions where they are asked to bring rolls so really these are something special that you can (and should!) enjoy all year long.
To shape the rolls, you actually cut out 1-inch by 7-inch strips, then dip them in melted butter and loop the ends around each other to form a loose knot in the middle of the strip. Then you tuck the loose ends of the knot under the roll and set it on a baking sheet before moving on to the next roll.
I recommend shaping them on a clean surface rather than holding the strips of dough in the air while twisting the ends around each other. Gravity takes a toll on the soft dough when you are trying to tie up the knot and your strip of dough will stretch longer and longer as you attempt to knot it if you are holding it up, whereas leaving it flat on the counter makes it a bit easier to tie into more or a perfect bow shape.
The great thing about knotted rolls is that even if yours seem like they are turning out wonky and less then perfect, nobody is really going to notice or care because they bake up just fine into lovely, twisted rolls. The first few rolls I knotted got all stretched out before I realized I should start shaping them on the counter, but I just did a couple extra knots and scrunched them together and they looked fine.
Deborah gave me the brilliant idea of making a double batch and setting some of the rolls aside unglazed for the next morning. Then you can just pop them in the oven to warm up for a few minutes, then glaze them and have them for breakfast. If you have leftover glazed rolls from the night before, they are still delicious but the glaze starts to soak into the rolls overnight and they aren’t quite as amazing as when the glaze is fresh, so definitely hold a few unglazed rolls in reserve with some of the extra glaze if you don’t think all of the rolls will be eaten right away.
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- 4 tablespoons sugar, divided
- 2 tablespoons yeast
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 1 1/3 cups scalded whole milk
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 5 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons orange zest
- 1/2 cup butter, melted
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- 2-3 tablespoons orange juice
In a small bowl, combine warm water, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and the yeast and allow to proof until foamy, about five minutes. Meanwhile, scald the milk and stir in the other 2 tablespoons of sugar and the salt.
Beat eggs in a small bowl, then slowly add the scalded milk while stirring to temper the egg. Combine with yeast mixture when the milk has cooled a bit.
In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, combine the milk and yeast mixture with 2 cups of the flour and the orange zest and mix for 2 minutes, until smooth. Switch to the dough hook and continue adding flour, 1 cup at a time, kneading until a smooth, soft dough is formed, about 5 minutes. Transfer the dough to a large greased bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap.
Let the dough rise for one hour or until doubled in size. Divide dough in half, then roll out one half of the dough into a 12x7-inch rectangle. Cut into 12 1-inch strips and dip each strip in melted butter. Shape into knots and place on a baking sheet. Repeat with the other half of the dough, then let rolls rise 15-30 minutes.
Bake at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned on top.
Make glaze by combining ingredients and whisking until smooth. Brush glaze on each roll with a pastry brush.
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