Believe it or not, I still have cranberries from last Thanksgiving in my freezer. I couldn't help it. The price for them was too good to pass up and I fully intended to use them to make cranberry sauce. But, then I ended up going out of town for Thanksgiving, and the cranberries got relegated to the deep freeze instead.
I can't quite say that I regret having several bagfuls throughout the year. It means that I get to use them to make all sorts of deliciousness like these mini Orange Cranberry Pull-Apart Breads. I had made an Orange Pull Apart Bread before, but knowing how well cranberries and orange go together, I couldn't wait to use some of them in this bread.
The result? Heavenly! The bread, of course, is the fluffiest thing I have ever eaten and each little piece is coated with delectable orange sugar. Then, you get the juicy, tart bite of the cranberries to counteract the sweetness and also add a pop of color to your bread. Finally, you slather the whole thing with cream cheese icing (and who doesn't love that), though even without the icing, the bread is still irresistible. The mini size of these loaves makes them perfect for giving away as little gifts. But, do be warned that their smaller size also makes it tempting to eat the whole thing at one go. I suppose the calories are worth it. Oh who am I kidding? Of course it's worth it!
Orange Cranberry Pull-Apart Bread
(adapted from That Skinny Chick Can Bake)
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1/4 cup sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 tsp. cardamom (I added this)
1/3 cup whole milk (I used 3 Tbsp. Greek yogurt + 2 Tbsp. water)
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup warm water (about 110F)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted (I used 3 Tbsp.)
4 tablespoons finely grated orange zest
1/2 - 3/4 c. cranberries, frozen
Cream Cheese Icing:
3 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/3 cup powdered sugar
2 Tbsp. whole milk (I used Greek yogurt)
Grease 4 mini bread pans.
Combine the yeast with the warm water and a pinch of sugar. Let stand until foamy, about 5 min. Combine the yogurt with the melted butter. Add the yeast mixture. Stir in the eggs, sugar, cardamom, and vanilla. Add the salt and 2 cups of the flour. Stir well. Continue adding flour gradually until the dough no longer sticks to the bowl.
Knead the dough on a well-floured surface until smooth and elastic, adding flour as necessary. (I ended up stirring in about 2 1/4 cups of flour and kneaded the rest in.) Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and a dishtowel, and set in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
Combine the sugar with the orange zest, rubbing it in with your fingers until fragrant. Set aside.
Punch down the dough, then roll it into a 20 x 12 inch rectangle on a well-floured surface. Spread with the melted butter. Sprinkle evenly with the orange sugar. Sprinkle with the cranberries.
Cut the dough with a pizza cutter into 20 x 2 inch strips. Then, cut each strip 10 times so that you have 2 x 2 inch pieces. Stack the pieces and put them, cut side up, into the pans. Do not crowd them too much, because they will expand during the second rising. If the cranberries fall out, just tuck them back in. Let rise in the pans until doubled, about 20-30 min. (the dough will probably start rising as you work, so the second rising time will vary).
Preheat oven to 375F. Bake for 25 min. until the tops start to turn a nice golden brown. Let cool on rack for 10-15 min., then remove from the pans.
Beat the cream cheese with the powdered sugar till smooth. Add the yogurt and mix until the consistency is the way you like it. Glaze the breads while warm.