Orange Dinner Rolls


College is a terrifying, amazingly fun time of life.  College is where you go to learn important things like how imaginative you can get with a bologna sandwich (ketchup?  Butter?  Peanut butter?  Eeeeew. Please don’t ask how I know this).  Part of what makes college awesome (or terrible) is the roommates that you have.  One of my all time favorite college roommates, bar none, was a Texas gal named Mink.

I liked Mink immediately.  She had gutsy Texas courage, paired with the beauty of a Southern Belle.  Her design major background meant that our room was always the best dressed, and our decor was elegant and tasteful.  She and I hung out all the time– she came with me the time I had to do an educational project called “live with a disability for an hour.”  I chose being deaf, and Mink kept saying, “You’re WHISPERING.  YOU are the one who’s supposed to be deaf, not me!  I can’t wait till you take those stupid eargplugs out so I don’t feel like I’M the one going deaf.”

She came to spend my first lonely Thanksgiving with me, at my first apartment, so I wouldn’t be by myself.  She made an orange cranberry relish that I still remember and wish I could try again.

Mink and I used to pop “drawers” full of air popped popcorn (what can I say. We didn’t own a bowl), and we both shrieked and dashed out of the way the day our entire bookshelf came crashing down upon us, proving that the college reading load truly is heavy.

To the ever sweet Texas Mink, these Orange Rolls are for you.  I hope you find them as sweet as you are. 🙂

What are we waiting for?  Let’s do this!

Orange Dinner Rolls

(Adapted from Allrecipes)

Roll Ingredients:

2 tbsp. butter or margarine, softened

1/4 cup white sugar

Juice and zest of 1 orange AND enough added water to make the juice mixture equal to 1 cup

1/2 tsp. orange extract

1 egg, room temperature

1 tbsp. instant yeast

1 tsp. salt

3-3 1/4 cups all purpose flour

Sweet Orange Butter Ingredients:

1 stick butter, softened (no substitutes)

2 tbsp. heavy cream

1/4 cup powdered sugar

Juice and zest of 1 orange

1/2 tsp. orange extract


In the bowl of your stand mixer, mix together butter, sugar, water/orange juice mixture, orange zest, orange extract, egg, instant yeast, salt, and 1 cup flour until combined.  Slowly add flour until you have a soft dough. Switch to the dough hook and knead the dough, adding flour little by little, until the dough is soft and tacky, but no longer sticky.  Place in a greased bowl and cover with a damp kitchen towel. Allow to rise in a warm place for 1 hour, or until roughly doubled in size.

To make butter, whip softened butter and cream together until light and fluffy.  Add in powdered sugar and mix.  Slowly drizzle in orange components (just mix these in a small bowl beforehand– it makes it easier) while the mixer is running. Refrigerate until ready to use.

When dough has finished with the first rise, divide dough into 16 equal pieces and place into an 11×7 greased baking dish.  Cover with towel, again, and allow to rise for 35-40 minutes, until rolls are puffy.  Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until rolls are golden brown on both top and sides.  When rolls come out of the oven, brush liberally with orange butter and serve with extra butter on the side.

Now, in pictures! 🙂

If you’ve ever tried to fiddle your way through grating orange zest with a standard box grater, you know it’s a pain.  I highly recommend a cheap micro grater for zesting citrus, because it takes just the delicious, fruit flavored part, while the bitter pith remains behind.  You’re welcome.

Go ahead and zest your orange into the bowl of your stand mixer, and then add in your butter, sugar, water/orange juice mixture, orange extract, egg, instant yeast, salt, and 1 cup of flour.  What is instant yeast, you say?  I’m so glad you asked. Instant yeast is the Cadillac of yeasts.  You can add it to recipes teaspoon by teaspoon, without the “allow to sit for 10 minutes and foam” step.  Instant yeast keeps in the freezer for years, which also makes it much more reliable than the little foil packets that seem to go bad in the fridge, a fact which you won’t discover (trust me) until late at night when you’re trying to mix up a yeast dough for tomorrow, and you find that your yeast is dead. GAHHH.

Use instant yeast.  Just trust me on this.

The point of adding just 1 cup of flour, to start with, is so that you have a little “clout” to make the mixture thick enough to mix.  Look longingly at this mixture. It won’t be this way long. Did everyone get sufficient photos?  Good. Let’s move along.  Please keep all hands and arms inside the train.  Here we go . . .

Slowly add enough flour that you have a soft dough. When the dough is almost too thick to mix with the mixer blade, switch over to your dough hook and allow the dough to knead happily for a few minutes until you have a dough that is tacky but not super sticky. Place the dough blob into a greased (with cooking spray) bowl and mist the top with cooking spray.  Cover the bowl with a moist towel and allow it to rise in a warm place for about an hour, until your dough is roughly doubled in size.  How I wish we could put money in a bowl and let it double . . . sigh.

When your dough has doubled in size, gently deflate the dough with your hands and roll it into 16 equal dough balls (ok, ok.  I did 15.  It fit in my pan better, and there are a few monster balls in there because of it).  Place dough balls into a greased 11×7 baking dish and cover with the towel, again.  Allow your dough to rise for roughly 40 minutes, until the dough balls are puffy.

Now that’s puffy for you.

Oh– while I’m thinking of it– a quick word on the second rise. About 15 minutes before the second rise is finished, go ahead and preheat your oven. That way you won’t have to let the rolls rise longer than they should, while your oven preheats.

You’re so smart. I love working with you.

Bake your rolls at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until their pretty little tops and sides are golden brown. I personally use a glass baking dish so that I can scrutinize the rolls all around for doneness.  When the rolls are finished baking, brush them liberally with the whipped Orange Butter (see recipe at top).  Let the butter ooooooooze into every crack, crevice, and cranny.  Look how happy those rolls look. Seriously.  Butter just makes everything better.

Orange Dinner Rolls

Serve these beauties for breakfast, alongside a big, brimming glass full of orange juice.  Make sure you include some of that luscious Orange Butter on the side, for spreading. 😉

Orange Dinner Rolls

Although these rolls have richness and a kiss of sweetness, they really aren’t a sweet roll, per sa. But you know what? Whatever you call them, they are absolutely delicious.

Orange Dinner Rolls

Why good morning, sunshine.  Pull up a chair and stay a while.

You did it. And I’m just so proud of you. 🙂

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