Orange Rolls for Easter

These are the rolls I make every year for Easter.  They are sweeter than the Simple Featherlight Dinner Rolls I make at Thanksgiving and Christmas and they go perfectly with a baked ham.

This is my version of a dear departed friend's recipe.  Ruth Dilworth was a wonderful cooking and preserving mentor.  I have updated her recipe to use butter instead of shortening, scalded milk in place of boiling water, instant yeast, and organic oranges for the zest.

The dough is refrigerated overnight and the orange filling can be made at the same time and left on the counter.  In the morning, it's a snap to roll out and shape the rolls.  They rise at room temperature (while I'm at church) and are ready to bake when I get home, so they are fresh-out-of-the-oven for our holiday meal.

Orange Rolls
makes about 3 dozen
For the dough:

Scald 1 cup milk (heat gently just until a skin begins to form)

In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine:

3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, cut into chunks

Pour the hot milk over this mixture and stir to melt the butter.  Add 1/2 cup cold water and let cool to room temperature.

Beat 4 eggs well and add to cooled mixture.

Combine in a medium bowl:
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons instant yeast (SAF instant, Rapid-Rise, or bread machine yeast)  *See note at bottom if you only have regular active dry yeast.

Stir flour into egg/milk mixture until fully incorporated and there are no dry spots.  You can do this with a sturdy wooden spoon or in an electric mixer.  The dough does not need to be kneaded, just mixed well.  The dough will be sticky.  If it seems runny, you can add an additional 1/2 cup of flour.

Place the dough in a greased or oiled bowl, coating top well and allowing room for rising.  Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight. (It will keep two nights, if needed.)

For the filling:

1/2 cup butter, softened
grated zest (only the colored part!) of two organic oranges (I use my Microplane rasp.  You could also remove the zest in strips with a vegetable peeler and process with the sugar in a food processor.) 
1 cup sugar
(if the orange flavor isn't particularly strong, I add 1 teaspoon orange extract.)

In the morning (or at least five hours before you want to serve them), turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and divide into two equal pieces.  Roll each half into a rectangle about 14 inches long and 5 inches wide.  Spread half of the orange filling over the surface,  not quite all the way to the top edge.  Roll up from the long side and pinch the seam well to seal. Cut into 18 slices, each about 1 inch thick.  Place in well-greased or oil-sprayed muffin tins or 9 x 13 pans.  Repeat with remaining dough.  Spray the tops lightly with oil spray, cover pans lightly with plastic wrap or waxed paper and let rise at room temperature for 4 to 5 hours, until very light.  Place a sheet of foil on the oven rack (to catch any buttery filling that might bubble over) and preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, just until light tan.  The rolls in muffin tins will bake more quickly; watch closely so they don't burn. Carefully remove the rolls from the pans while warm, scraping up any filling that sticks.  Serve warm and enjoy!

*If you want to use regular active dry yeast, replace the 1/2 cup cold water with lukewarm water and dissolve 2 packages (about 5 teaspoons) of yeast in it while you're scalding the milk.  Add to the cooled mixture with the eggs.

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