Cranberry Orange Brioche Rolls

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As the late, great Douglas Adams once said, "I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by."

These past couple weeks have been all about meeting deadlines for me. In the next few days, all of my little side projects and work deadlines converge. I've done little else but stress over deadlines in the last week, frantically working as fast as my hands and mind will allow. After working for what feels like non-stop for far too long, I feel like there is little left of me to go around.

Yet, as I'm sure many of you know, the show must go on.

My brain currently feels a bit like jello, wobbly and unsure of its balance. I've fallen asleep in front of the computer twice, albeit briefly. And I think if I have to edit one more photograph, I might just lose my mind.

When I'm under a lot of stress, I tend to stress eat (I know, it's bad and I shouldn't, but I can't seem to help myself). It's not that I'm even eating junk food. All my food groups are present and in balance. I just sit in front of the table eating much more than I should because every minute I'm there is one minute I don't have to spend working, never mind the fact that the work will have to get done whether I eat more or not.

Logic doesn't always make sense to a stress addled brain.

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Nevertheless, this weekend I took some time out of my schedule to make these rolls. Bread, whether you realize it or not, is one of the perfect foods to make when you are home, but busy working on projects or chores. It requires a few minutes of attention every couple hours (a welcome distraction when you need a bit of a break) and, at the end of the day, there is something piping hot coming out of the oven to feed your tired soul.

I know I said that chocolate makes the world go 'round but, after warming up a leftover bun for my dinner, I think these rolls might too, in a more subtle way.

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These Cranberry Orange Brioche Rolls are delicate, rich, buttery rolls with plenty of flavor. Sweetened with honey, the rolls are contrasted with tart cranberries and a hint of orange zest. These rolls would make an elegant holiday breakfast to serve overnight guests, or perfect to keep as a secret all to yourself. Serve warm with a small pat of butter, if desired, but they are just as delicious plain. Dried cranberries may also be substituted for the fresh cranberries if your tastes would prefer.

One Year Ago: 30 Second Sangria (I could use one of these about now...)

Cranberry Orange Brioche Rolls

Yields 1 dozen rolls

2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/3 cup milk, barely warm
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup all-purpose flour

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together yeast and milk, mixing until yeast is dissolved. Stir in orange juice, honey, and flour. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 30-45 minutes, or until dough begins to ferment and bubbles form.

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
4 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
Zest from 1 orange
1 cup fresh or dried cranberries

If using a stand mixer, mix in flour and salt to the sponge using dough hook attachment. Add the eggs and mix for an additional 2 minutes, or until dough is formed into a ball. Add in the butter, 2 tablespoons at a time and continue kneading the dough for 5 additional minutes. Knead in the orange zest and cranberries.

If not using a stand mixer, mix in flour, salt, and egg to the sponge by hand. Add in the butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, gently kneading in the butter by hand. Knead in the orange zest and cranberries. Continue kneading dough for another 7-8 minutes, or until dough is elastic.

Place dough in a bowl, cover with plastic film, and allow to rise for 2 hours at room temperature (or overnight in the refrigerator) until dough has doubled in volume. Punch down the dough, cover again, and allow to rise a second time for 45-60 minutes, or until dough has doubled in volume once again.

Turn out dough on a lightly floured surface and divide dough into 12 equal portions. Roll each portion into a ball, flatten with the palm of your hand, and place rolls on a lined baking sheet close to each other (this will help them rise better). Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise an additional 15-20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).

Honey Coating
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon butter, melted

In a small bowl, mix together honey and melted butter. Using a pastry brush, coat rolls evenly with mixture.

Bake rolls for 25-30 minutes, or until rolls are lightly browned. Serve warm or room temperature.