We celebrated an early Thanksgiving in Napa with Daniel's family on Saturday. It was a lovely evening of champagne and delicious food (you can never have too many Thanksgiving dinners, in my opinion) and because a group of us were planning to sleep over at the house, I decided that I'd make sticky buns for breakfast the morning after. A few weeks back, I saw a recipe for cranberry-orange breakfast buns on Smitten Kitchen and had been waiting for an appropriate occasion to make them because they looked so beautiful and seasonally appropriate. This was that occasion.
I approached the recipe with a modicum of trepidation- sticky buns always seemed a bit finicky, with all of the kneading and the rises and the rolling, etc. But really, the dough came together amazingly easily. I didn't have a stand mixer at my disposal so I just attacked it with a wooden spoon and then kneaded it by hand for a few minutes. There was something really satisfying about kneading a ball of plump, orange-scented dough. I let it rise on the counter for a little over two hours and then rolled it out and spread the brown sugar cranberry filling over it.
I rolled the whole thing up, sliced it into twelve pieces, put the slices into a buttered pan, and put the pan into the refrigerator to slow-rise overnight. When I pulled the pan out in the morning to bake the buns, a pool of cranberry juice had formed at the bottom; when the buns baked, the juice burbled up and sort of caramelized around the bottom of the buns. It was glorious.
They came out of the oven beautifully puffed up and golden, with the cranberry swirl showing through. The icing was a simple powdered sugar and orange juice mixture that I poured over the buns just before serving.
They were so much fun to make and I liked the base dough a lot, so I'm already thinking about ways to tweak the recipe- maybe apple cinnamon, another option suggested by Ms. Perelman. If you're curious, the recipe can be found here.