Hey Snugbugs! Happy holidays to you, and you, and you. Jeff and I had a marvelous holiday, hanging around the house, cooking and Christmas Day with family.

One of our major projects was a big ‘ole mess of sweet rolls. Jeff loves orange rolls, and that was the initial plan, but after some research, I decided to use the Sweet Roll recipe 101 from The Pioneer Woman. This recipe makes a lot of sweet rolls so I thought I’d take the chance to experiment and make half using the orange roll recipe, and half using the regular cinnamon rolls.

And boy, folks…. a mess was made.

The biggest problem of the recipe was the reason I went with the Pioneer Woman’s recipe to begin with. I really wanted to have fresh rolls ready for Jeff Christmas morning, but it takes so long to make from start to finish, I wanted to find something with instructions for refrigerating halfway through. The Pioneer woman fit the bill!

Unfortunately, I didn’t bother to follow the recipe and stuck the dough in the fridge without half the ingredients… it worked out, but I suspect would have been better had I, you know. Made them correctly.

Here’s a visual rundown with some key lessons learned. Jump all the way down for the recipe, which I really DO recommend. Especially if you actually follow it as opposed to what I did….

First… mix up the dough and stick it in the fridge

The recipe is enough for 50 rolls that’s a lot. It’s a cool method where you scald milk, oil and sugar then let it sit ’till it cools down enough to not kill the yeast. Dump in the yeast, let it get foamy and then dump in a bunch of flour.

I used a stock pot for this whole process, and that’s what I stuck in the fridge overnight.

Very important once you mix in the flour you’ll let it rise for about an hour. Then (here’s something I didn’t do) mix in another cup of flour, the baking powder, baking soda and salt. Then stick it in the fridge overnight. 

But don’t worry! If you forget to mix in the flour, baking powder and company until the next morning, just dump the dough out, knead in the missing ingredients and let rise for 20-30 minutes. The resulting dough won’t be as fluffy as if you do it right but it will work.

Second… Split the dough in half and roll out nice and flat

See this picture (below)? Yeah. That dough is way too flat. I was overcompensating for forgetting the baking powder and went to town with my rolling pin. Your goal is to get 25 one-inch rounds from this dough log, once it’s all rolled out. My first attempt was about 35″ wide – WAY too much!! I got 34 rolls but they had thin dough layers and the filling to dough ratio was not my favorite. 

Lesson learned.

sweet rolls

Third… the filling….

The filling didn’t go too poorly. The recipe calls for melted butter, which I used on the orange rolls. It was a giant mess. For the second half of the dough (the cinnamon) I used room temperature butter and smeared it on with my nice, clean hands. Not only was it cleaner, but it was strangely sensual. Try it. You’ll like it. 

Also… I’m willing to give it another try, but I wasn’t a huge fan of the brown sugar in the orange rolls. It was more caramel-like and got stuck in my teeth. Next time I might cut the brown sugar with regular white sugar. Also… the orange filling wasn’t orange enough for us. We might try more marmalade and/or orange zest on the next round!

sweet roll filling

sweet roll

Orange maralade filling

sweet rolls

Cinnamon and sugar filling

Fourth… form your log

The picture below is of the cinnamon rolls, which were the second half of the batch. I already knew what I was about. Notice how the ends are more ‘squared up’, so the log is a big uniform? I spent some time after rolling everything up trying to get the roll a more uniform width from one end to the next. I just patted it around with my hands, keeping in mind I wanted to get 25 rolls sliced out of the dough log. 

sweet rolls

Fifth… some slicing tips. And note the pans.

Note the pans – we got the aluminum cake pans with the straight sides. We used some glass dishes as well, the main reason we used the aluminum cake pans was so we could give away our plethora of rolls without having to worry about getting our baking pans back! 

Don’t forget to put some melted butter in the bottom of the pans before putting the rolls in. I did. They didn’t stick that badly. It’s more of a matter of principle.

When slicing… slice everything THEN place in the pans. The rolls will support each other and be less likely to fall apart. Yes, I speak from experience. Again, this is the 2nd half of the dough. With the first half, I sliced one, then placed in the pan, sliced one, placed in pan. Everything fell apart. It was a giant mess.

Be thoughtful when filling up the pans. No matter how perfectly formed your log, the rounds in the middle will be bigger. Put those in the middle of the pans. It won’t really affect the cooking, I just think it’s best when all is symmetrical.

And don’t forget you’re aiming for 25 rolls from each half-batch of rolls. I cut in half, then cut each half in half, etc., in order to get the right number….

Sweet rolls

And here’s the whole kit-n-kaboodle, ready to get baked up! 

sweet rolls

All in all, the rolls were good. We preferred the cinnamon to the orange rolls. Both because the dough was thicker/hadn’t been rolled as flat and thin and because of the flavors. The icing, with the maple and coffee, just is sweet and rich tasting. It doesn’t really taste like coffee or maple flavoring! I’m looking forward to making the orange rolls again with the dough rolled out the right thickness, but think the filling and icing just weren’t quite… right. But still a tasty Christmas morning treat!!

So what are your sweet roll secrets??

The Pioneer Woman's Sweet Roll Recipes. For Dummies.
Yields 50
This is a great sweet roll recipe (orange AND cinnamon versions) that I wasn't able to mess up, even though I tried very, very hard....
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Total Time
4 hr
Total Time
4 hr
The Rolls
  1. 1 quart whole milk
  2. 1 cup vegetable oil
  3. 1 cup sugar
  4. 2 packages active dry yeast, 0.25 Ounce Packets (4.5 teaspoons)
  5. 8 cups (plus 1 cup extra, reserved) all-purpose flour
  6. 1 teaspoon (heaping) baking powder
  7. 1 teaspoon (scant) baking soda
  8. 1 tablespoon (heaping) salt
For the Cinnamon Filling (double these amounts if making the whole batch cinnamon!)
  1. plenty Of melted butter - about one cup
  2. 1 cup sugar
  3. Lots of cinnamon
For the orange roll filling (double if making a whole batch of orange rolls)
  1. Lots of butter - about one half cup
  2. 8-12 tablespoons marmalade
  3. 1 cup brown sugar
For the maple frosting (goes on the cinnamon rolls - enough for HALF a batch of rolls)
  1. 1/2 bag powdered sugar (one pound)
  2. 1 teaspoons maple flavoring
  3. 1/4 cup milk
  4. 2 tablespoons melted butter
  5. 2 tablespoons brewed coffee
  6. Pinch salt
For the orange icing (goes on the orange rolls - enough for HALF a batch of rolls)
  1. 1/2 bag powdered sugar - 1 pound
  2. 3 tablespoons melted butter
  3. 1/4 cup milk
  4. 1/4 cup orange juice
Making the rolls the night before
  1. Heat the milk, oil, and 1 cup sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat to just below a boil. Set aside and cool to warm. Sprinkle the yeast on top and let it sit on the milk for a few minutes.
  2. Add 8 cups of the flour. Stir until just combined, cover and set aside for 1 hour. Then remove the towel and add the baking powder, baking soda, salt, and the remaining 1 cup flour. Stir thoroughly. Place in a mixing bowl and refrigerate for up to 3 days, punching down the dough if it rises to the top of the bowl.
Finish the rolls the next morning
  1. I made half the batch into cinnamon, half into orange which is reflected in the directions
  2. To assemble the rolls, remove half the dough from the pan/bowl. On a floured baking surface, roll the dough into a large rectangle, you’ll be cutting about 25 rolls from this piece of dough, so aim to have your dough pancake 25-30” long by however wide that takes. Probably 10-12 inches.
  3. To make the filling, pour 3/4 cup to 1 cup of the melted butter over the surface of the dough. Use your fingers to spread the butter evenly.
  4. For cinnamon rolls - Sprinkle half of the ground cinnamon and 1 cup of the sugar over the butter.
  5. Roll the dough rectangle tightly towards you (you’ll be rolling the big long way!) Keep the roll tight. It might get messy, that’s fine. Roll it up tight and pinch it shut.
  6. Grab your cake pans and put melted butter in the bottom of each pan. You’ll need 6 - 8 pans and each pan will have 7-9 rolls.
  7. Now slice into the rolls - Start by slicing in the middle and aim for 12 - 13 rolls from each side. Keep cutting in half if it helps you keep things even!
  8. Repeat the rolling/sugar/butter process with the other half of the dough and more pans.
  9. For orange rolls - layer on the butter, marmalade and brown sugar.
  10. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  11. Cover the rolls with a towel, set someplace warm and let rise for 20 minutes.
  12. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until golden brown. Don’t allow the rolls to become overly brown.
For the icing
  1. Maple icing - In a large bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, milk, butter, coffee, and salt. Splash in the maple flavoring. Whisk until very smooth. Taste and add in more maple, sugar, butter, or other ingredients as needed until the icing reaches the desired consistency. The icing should be somewhat thick but still very pourable.
  2. Orange icing - exactly the same, but sub OJ for the coffee and maple flavoring.
  3. Remove pans from the oven and drizzle icing over the top - try to get the icing everywhere!
Notes, where I messed up and how to make better next time
  1. **Don't forget to add 1 cup of flour, the baking powder, baking soda and salt after the dough rises. If you DO forget, just go ahead and knead in the next morning and let rise for 20-30 minutes. The rolls won't be as fluffy, but they will be tasty.**
  2. **Your mission is to get 25 rolls from each half batch of dough you roll out. For the love of all that's holy, don't roll out too thin. Get the dough 25-30" across by about 10" deep. Rolls taste better when rolled out about that thick. I rolled mine MUCH too thin and had more layers. Not as tasty**
  3. **BUTTER THE PANS!!**
  4. **We thought the orange rolls could be more... orangey. Try working in more marmalade and maybe orange zest in the filling and the glaze!**
Adapted from Ree Drummond
Adapted from Ree Drummond
Patty Brower https://pattybrower.com/

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