Christmas and the art of procrastination
I’ve tried to be organized and efficient. Believe me, I would love to muster up just a drop of the left-brained efficiency required to tackle tasks in advance, in a calm and serene manner. Gifts purchased or homemade, wrapped and placed under the tree. Strings of cranberries draped around the perfect tree. Mulled cider wafting through the clean house. Stockings all hung by the chimney with care, and nothing left to do to but settle down for a long winter’s nap. Unfortunately, try as I may, Christmas Eve is always a whirlwind. It’s the deadline for tying up all the loose ends of holiday to-dos.
Christmas preparations happened extra late this year. Who am I kidding, with me, Christmas preparations always happen in a somewhat frenzied manner. Take, for example, the Mister and I’s foolproof method for procuring the perfect tree. Let fate choose your tree for you. To do this one must make sure to wait long enough that most tree lots are empty. When you find a tree lot that has a few mis-shapen trees left, you’ll know you’ve struck gold. This year, we were thrilled to find a tree, flouncy and filled out on one side, and relatively flat on the other, a perfect fit against the living room wall.
Now, this next one takes a bit of advance planning. When purchasing a house, be sure to move next to neighbors that use more than their fair share of electricity around Christmas time with a gaudy holiday display. When lit, the reindeer on their roof will cast a pleasant holiday glow on yours until you can put up a couple strings of lights.
The thing I love about Christmas morning is that the frenzy comes to an end. Even if you have to rotate from house to house like the mister and I, making the rounds, there is nothing left to buy, and whatever is, just is. I’m finally tying up preparations, and thought I’d throw out one more last-minute idea to all of my fellow procrastinators who haven’t yet thought about Christmas breakfast. For all the organized people out there, who already have plans, these rolls would be great for any breakfast or brunch. They are scented with cinnamon and orange, tender and gooey inside, their sweetness punctuated with tart cranberry.
However you celebrate, I hope you enjoy the people around you and some delicious food. And most of all, fellow procrastinators, enjoy the calm after such a whirlwind of holiday preparations. Merry Christmas!
Cranberry-Orange Cinnamon Rolls
Makes about 24 rolls
Adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod
For the dough:
2 packages of yeast, dissolved in 1 cup lukewarm water
3 tablespoons coconut oil
3 tablespoons vegan butter, such as Earth Balance (or use real butter), softened
1 cup granulated sugar
7 1/4 cups all purpose flour (plus more if dough is still sticky)
2 cups hot water
1 tablespoon salt
grated zest from 1 medium orange, about 1 tablespoon
For the Filling:
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
Zest of 2 large oranges
3/4 cup granulated sugar
For the orange sugar topping:
Zest of 1 large orange
1/2 cup granulated sugar
For the frosting:
4 tablespoons vegan butter, melted
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened almond milk
1 tablespoon orange zest
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the Dough:
1. Add the yeast to 1 cup of lukewarm water. Stir and set aside for about five minutes, or until proofed (the top layer should look foamy and bubbly)
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, place the coconut oil, 3 tablespoons butter, sugar, and salt to hot water and beat for about a minute, or until the butter and coconut oil are melted. Allow to cool to lukewarm. Stir in 2 cups of flour and mix until smooth. Stir in the yeast mixture and the 1 tablespoon orange zest and mix until well combined.
3. Gradually stir in the remaining flour and mix with the dough hook for about 2 minutes. Remove dough from the bowl and place on a lightly floured counter. Knead by hand for about 8-10 minutes, adding flour as needed if the dough is sticky, until satiny and smooth.
4. Put the dough in a floured bowl and cover with a towel. Let rise for 30 minutes or until dough doubles in size.
5. Remove dough from bowl and place on a lightly floured counter. Divide dough in half. With a rolling pin, roll one half of the dough into a rectangular shape.
6. Add the filling: spread dough evenly with 4 tablespoons of softened butter. Sprinkle the dough with 1/2 cup and 3/4 cup dried cranberries. Rub the orange zest, cinnamon, brown sugar and granulated sugar together in small bowl. Sprinkle half of the mixture over the dough.
7. Gently roll up dough into one long roll. Cut rolls, using a piece of dental floss or thread, about two inches thick (after cutting with the floss, you may need to finish cutting it with a sharp knife). Rub the zest of one orange and half cup of sugar together in a small bowl. Dip and twist the rolls into the orange sugar mixture. Place rolls in greased 9X13 baking pans.Now follow the exact same steps with the other half of the dough.
8. Place the rolls in a warm spot and cover with a towel. Let rolls rise until double in bulk, about an hour. Bake 425 degrees F for 10 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees F and bake for 5-7 more minutes or until golden brown. Remove pans from oven and let cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes.
8. To make the frosting-in a medium bowl combine, butter, powdered sugar, almond milk, orange zest, orange juice and vanilla extract. Whisk until smooth. Frost rolls generously with frosting. Serve warm.
*Rolls may be re-heated in a 300˚ oven if needed