Holly B’s Orange Swirls

November 4, 2009


These are the orange rolls that almost weren’t.  Sometime on Sunday morning I got hit with a bad bug.  I hesitate to even say “flu” because that seems to throw people into a panic.  I had a fever and the worst sore throat of my life.  Randy had to leave town Monday morning so the timing was truly awful.  Fortunately our preschool is very flexible and we were able to get some extra hours so I could sleep.  I figured there was no way I could stick to my Holly B’s challenge this week.

I woke up this morning still not feeling well but also just so bored.  I’m tired of laying down, I’m tired of all the terrible TV options and I don’t have the attention span to read when I’m sick.  I figured I might as well bake.  Besides, I have been excited about baking these rolls for the past week.  Over the many years of eating Holly B’s treats, I have tasted just about everything and I do have my favorites.  If they have just been pulled out of the oven, I will always choose a cinnamon roll.  But every so often, an Orange Swirl will call my name.


Here is where one of those weird food tics come to light.  I like oranges (especially clementines) but I don’t like anything orange flavored.  Orange popsicles and lollipops are a last resort for me.  I don’t even like the color orange and I certainly would never choose to eat orange cheesecake or pound cake, even one I have made.  (OK, just for fun, here is another tic.  I like fresh cherries and cherry flavored things, but I can’t stand cherry desserts.  Like cherry pie, cobbler, etc.  Yuck.  Yes I know it’s weird.)

So why do I like these rolls?  I don’t know.  Because they are delicious?  Because the orange is subtle and the glaze is lemon (which I love)?  Because that Holly B can really work some magic?  Why ask why?  Sometimes in life, I have found it is better to not ask, especially when it comes to baked goods.  Just trust and enjoy.


One Year Ago:  Moroccan Harira Soup

Orange Swirls

Adapted from With Love & Butter
Makes 10 rolls

In her book, Holly directs you back to her Basic Bread recipe (with the Orange Bread variation) for the dough.  For the sake of clarity, I am combining the recipes here.  I found this dough to be exceptionally sticky, so please heed the advice to keep flouring your board and the dough well.  Also my dough measured about 16 inches by 28 inches and it all turned out fine.

For the dough:
3/4 of a fresh orange, unpeeled, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 tbsp. honey
1 package (2 1/4 tsp.) quick-rise yeast
2 tbsp. mild tasting oil
5 cups flour, plus more for dusting
3 tbsp. milk powder
1 3/4 tsp. salt

For the Swirls:
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
1/2 cup honey
1 cup sliced almonds
1 tsp. nutmeg

For the glaze:
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup honey

In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, purée the orange.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.  Add 1 1/2 cups warm water and process to a fairly lumpless liquid.  Transfer the mixture to a measuring cup and add enough warm water to bring the level to 2 1/3 cups.  Pour this mixture into a large bowl.  Add the honey, yeast, and oil.  In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, milk powder, and the salt.  Add the dry mixture to the wet.

Using a wooden spoon or a stand mixer, mix the dough vigorously until it is too stiff to continue.  Coat your hands with a little flour and knead the dough inside the bowl (this really minimizes the mess on your work table).  Knead until the dough is smooth, or use a dough hook.  (DT: I used a spoon and then the dough hook.)  If it feels too stiff, sprinkle with warm water and continue to knead; if too wet or sticky, add a little more flour.  Two to five minutes of kneading should be enough.  Dust the ball of dough with a little flour.  Lightly oil the bowl and place the dough back inside.  Drape with a dishtowel and let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size.  (DT: Mine took about an hour.)

Once dough has doubled, do not punch down, but gently turn onto a well-floured surface, taking care not to deflate.  Flour the top of the dough and pat it into a rough rectangle.  Now take a rolling pin and finish rolling the dough into a rectangle about 12 inches wide by 28 inches long and 1/4-inch thick.  Check the underside of the dough frequently for sticking, sprinkling with flour as required.

Place the rectangle of dough in front of you with the short sides top and bottom.  Brush the dough with the melted butter.  Drizzle on the honey and distribute the almonds and nutmeg evenly over the surface.

Starting with the short side, roll up the dough, tugging gently as you go, to create a snug log.  Turn the log seam side down and slice into 10 even tolls with a serrated knife.  Space the rolls out evenly on a large parchment paper covered cookie sheet and let them rise for 30 minutes, or until puffy and nearly doubled in size.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375°F with the rack in the center position.  Bake the Swirls 10 minutes, then rotate the pan and bake 8 to 10 minutes more, or until slightly browned.  Check the bottoms:  The tops can look pale while the bottoms get too dark.  Allow the Swirls to cool slightly while you make the lemon glaze.

Heat the lemon juice and honey in a saucepan or in the microwave.  Brush on the warm Swirls.  Serve with butter.


  1. Those look GOOOOD. I hate orange FLAVORED things, like popsicles and lollipops and skittles and gummi bears (um, I’ve been in the Halloween candy, can you tell?) but I love baked goods made with oranges, esp. orange cake.

    Comment by Kate @ Savour Fare — November 4, 2009 @ 12:37 am

  2. You seem to have done a great job with these rolls! I love everything orange flavored.

    I hope you are feeling better :)

    Comment by Karine — November 4, 2009 @ 2:46 am

  3. You’re killing me! I love all the baked goods that come out of your kitchen…so beautiful and delicious! I hope you are feeling better though. There’s nothing better than kitchen therapy when one’s under the weather. Sending healing thoughts your way :)

    Comment by Eralda — November 4, 2009 @ 5:11 am

  4. I’ve been meaning to make a Scandinavian cardamom roll, and now am going to add this to my list of things to try.

    The problem is that rolls like this intimidate me. Other than the obvious time it took to let the dough rise, do you have any hints that will encourage those like me, who shy away from recipes like this?

    Comment by D. @ Outside Oslo — November 4, 2009 @ 5:26 am

  5. I got the cake pan in the mail today- thank you so much!! I will be baking something in it soon, I’ll let you know when I post about it. These pastries are so beautiful- I am so impressed with all of your Holly B recipes!! It makes me want to buy the book!

    Comment by Emily Rose — November 4, 2009 @ 5:56 am

  6. I love orange flavored things, not so hot about the oranges themselves (unless tangerines, clementines, etc). These look so good!

    Hope you’re feeling better. Let me know if you need some non-chicken soup :-)

    Comment by Tea — November 4, 2009 @ 9:19 am

  7. I’ve never heard of milk powder. Can it be substituted with something else?

    Comment by Jess — November 4, 2009 @ 3:43 pm

  8. I’m starting to realize I’d have a very hard time deciding what to order at Holly B’s. I have lots of weird food tics, but I don’t think any of them are fruit-related. So, these rolls look incredible.

    Comment by lisaiscooking — November 4, 2009 @ 6:30 pm

  9. I read so many food blogs (you know how that is) that I rarely read a recipe through word-for-word anymore. Not so with this one. I am intensely interested! I love the orange hazelnut swirls at Macrina. These remind me of those–a much better version of cinnamon rolls.

    I can’t believe you did this while you were sick! You’re amazing.

    Comment by The Leftoverist — November 4, 2009 @ 7:41 pm

  10. Hope you’re feeling better! Swirls/rolls like this are one of the best things in life. I love how the end of the swirls are sticking out.

    Comment by Ashley — November 6, 2009 @ 3:13 pm

  11. First of all, I hope you’re feeling better! If these are what you do when you’re not feeling well, I can only imagine what you do when you are well. From the looks of your past posts I’ve read, you do amazing things! Love the Holly B’s posts- looking forward to more!

    Comment by yael — November 8, 2009 @ 11:17 am

  12. I scrolled down to see these and my mouth started watering, haha. Guess I’ll just have to make them! ;-)

    Comment by Tracy — November 10, 2009 @ 6:17 pm

  13. Made these last night – very tasty! I couldn’t resist adding a bit of cinnamon… I really enjoyed the flavor with the orange and almonds. I might put some frosting on a few (dad’s request). Thanks for the recipe!

    Comment by Monica — January 5, 2010 @ 10:02 pm

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