Baking, Breads, Muffins & Donuts

Spiced Orange Raisin Rolls

Orange Raisin Hot Cross BunThese rolls are utterly divine. Tender pillows of warmly spiced dough studded with plump raisins and zested orange. A lovely, light roll with the perfect amount of, well, everything. One could add a piped on cross and call them hot cross buns. I opted for some zesty lemon sugar for my topping on this day. Read on!I have been wanting some type of hot cross bun for weeks. I am on a raisin kick and this recipe from Elise at Simply Recipes included orange zest. I have also been on quite the orange kick. I rolled up my sleeves, threw on my apron and got to work.
Hot cross bun spicesCinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves were combined together. This spice combination often reminds me of fall/ winter months. These spices are like hugs really. Traditionally these rolls are served on Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Many people would likely associate Easter Sunday with lovely warm weather. However, I remember many Easter mornings before church posing for an Easter photo, shivering, but oh so excited to wear my new easter outfit. This year must have been a good year. The gardens were unearthed and there was barely a flake of snow to be seen! Of course, my grandmother is in red…her signature color!
EasterThis recipe cuts back on the fat and sugar content which puts the ‘t’ in tender vs. a tough roll at the end of it all.
Hot Cross Bun add insYeast is bloomed.
Bloomed YeastAn orange is zested.
¬†Flour, sugars, and spices are whisked and there is a mixing of wet ingredients. I opted to use my mixer on this day…the dough hook comes into play and does the kneading for me. The dough rises for a few hours.
Rising Hot Cross Bun DoughSee the beautiful orange specks? See those raisins? Do I still have to wait hours to eat one of these?!?!
Hot Cross Bun RollsRolls are shaped and we wait. Before baking an egg white/milk are whisked together and the tops get brushed. Baked until the internal temperature is 190*. Yes, I checked it. I was not about to let this 3 plus hour labor of love end in a fit of tears, or frustration.
Spiced Orange Raisin RollsI added some lemon sugar zest to the top. You can also go straight up traditional and pipe on some frosting in the shape of a cross. I knew I would be freezing and then traveling with these. I suppose I also did not want to fuss with powdered sugar glazes and piping bags. But that is one traditional way of doing things. So go forth…make these rolls. They are super tender, light, flaky bits of deliciously spiced rolls. Raisins, orange zest, lemon zest peek around the warm cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg notes dancing within the roll. Utterly divine. I am lucky these are safely tucked in the freezer right now…
Spiced Orange Raisin Rolls

Spiced Orange Raisin Rolls


  • Recipe from Simply Recipes
  • Note: Plan ahead by softening the butter and bring the eggs to room temperature. The total time will be roughly 3 hours.
  • My yield: 14 rolls
  • 2 1/2 t. yeast
  • 3/4 C. milk, warmed (and divided)
  • 1/4 C. + 1 t. sugar (I used brown sugar)
  • 3 1/4 - 3 1/2 C. all purpose flour
  • 1/2 t. each: cardamom, cinnamon, allspice
  • 1/4 T. each: cloves, nutmeg
  • 1 t. salt
  • 4 T. butter, softened
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 3/4 C. raisins (original recipe called for currants and/or citron
  • Glaze for brushing:
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 T. milk
  • Sugar topping:
  • 1t. lemon zest combined with 2-3 T. of raw sugar. Mix together.
  • Icing for piping:
  • 1 t. milk
  • 3-4 T. powdered sugar
  • dash of vanilla extract


  1. Bring the eggs and butter to room temperature.
  2. Lightly grease a 9X13 pan with butter and set aside.
  3. In the bowl of the mixer combine 3 C. flour, the spices, 1/4 C. sugar and salt, whisking to combine then create a well. Attach the paddle attachment.
  4. In a small bowl 'bloom' the yeast. Mix 1/4 C. of the warmed milk with 1 t. sugar and sprinkle the yeast over top. Let it sit for 10 minutes.
  5. Add the two eggs, remaining 1/2 C. remaining milk, bloomed yeast and butter. Mix this until well combined - it will be shaggy. Add in the raisins and orange zest.
  6. Attach the dough hook. Slowly incorporate 3 cups of flour and knead on low/ medium-low for 4- 5 minutes. Add additional flour, 1 tablespoon at a time (and up to 1/2 cup) until the dough is tacky but not sticky.
  7. Turn the dough into a clean, large bowl, cover with plastic (or my trick: a shower cap!) and let it rise for 1 1/2 - 2 hours - until doubled in size.
  8. Now it is time to deflate and shape the dough! Divide the dough in half, roll into a log and divide the log into 7 - 8 pieces. Roll these into a ball form and put the rolls into the prepared 9X13 pan. Repeat for the remaining half of dough.
  9. Cover the rolls with plastic wrap and let this rise again for about an hour until the rolls are touching one another.
  10. Preheat the oven to 400*.
  11. Prepare your egg wash - whisk together an egg white and milk.
  12. When the rolls have risen, brush the tops with the egg wash and if using the sugar topping sprinkle it on top. Bake for 15- 25 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking. The rolls will be golden brown and the internal temperature of the rolls should reach 190* - this will increase your chances of a tender roll vs. a gummy inside!
  13. Let the rolls slightly and turn out to cool completely on a cooling rack. Make sure the rolls are completely cool before icing.
  14. If icing: combine the milk, dash of extract and powdered sugar to form a thick icing. Pipe this onto the rolls when they are completely cool.

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