Cranberry Orange Walnut Christmas Wreath

Cranberry Orange Walnut Christmas Wreath

This is a recipe I found in Southern Living magazine that is relatively quick that uses commercial yeast to make.  I wanted to make several of these over the next couple of weeks to bring to work and to other places that are closed on the weekends when I’m off work.  Therefore I needed something that I could squeeze into a work day somehow and this seemed to be that recipe.  At some point in the future I would like to make this using my starter, but for now this is a faster way to make these that fits my current work situation.  There are no tasting notes accompanying this post, unless my colleagues at work save me a roll.

Similar in flavor to a Christmas panettone, these homemade sweet rolls start with a buttery, lightly-sweetened, enriched bread dough. The dough gets stuffed with a very festive filling of cranberries, pecans, orange, and dark brown sugar. The filling is crunchy and tart, with floral notes from the orange peel and a caramely warmth from the cooked brown sugar. Serve these sweet rolls for breakfast or dessert, with a glass of milk or a hot toddy. 


Took about 35 mins from the time of mix to fully develop the gluten in the dough.




  • 1 cup whole milk 240 g
  • ½ cup unsalted butter melted
  • ½ cup granulated sugar 100 g
  • ¼ cup water 75 g
  • 1 (¼-oz.) envelope active dry yeast 7 g
  • 4 cups unbleached bread flour, divided, plus more for work surface 480 g  (180g, 100 g 200g)
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt 5.69 g


  • 1 cup fresh or thawed frozen cranberries
  • 1 cup pecan halves (Walnuts)
  • ¾ cup chopped unpeeled orange (from 1 orange) 
  • ¾ cup packed dark brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt


Additional Ingredients

  • 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 2 – 3 teaspoons whole milk, as needed



Instructions Checklist


Because the dough goes directly into the fridge after mixing start night before.


Step 1 Prepare the Dough: Stir together milk, butter, and ¼ cup water in a small saucepan. Cook over medium-low, stirring often, just until butter is melted. Remove from heat. Let stand, stirring occasionally, until mixture cools to 120°F, 10 to 15 minutes. 


  • Alternate Step 1:  Melt butter.  Add  milk and ¼ cup water to the bowl with sugar, yeast and 1 ¼ cup flour in the bowl and mix.  Then add egg and another ¼ cup of flour beat until incorporated.  Then add salt, butter and remaining flour and mix until fully developed. 


  • Step 2 Stir together sugar, yeast, and 1¼ cups of the flour in bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add warm butter mixture, and beat on medium-low speed until well combined, about 1 minute. Add egg and ¼ cup of the flour. Beat until incorporated, about 2 minutes. With mixer running, gradually add salt and remaining 2½ cups flour, beating until mixture forms a stiff and sticky batter, about 1 minute. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Chill at least 4 hours or up to 12 hours. 

    Step 3 Prepare the Filling: Pulse cranberries, pecans, and chopped unpeeled orange in a food processor until finely chopped, 10 to 12 pulses. Transfer to a small saucepan; stir in brown sugar and salt. Cook over medium, stirring often, until mixture begins to bubble around pan edges, 3 to 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, stirring often, until thick and jammy, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Cool completely, about 1 hour. 

    Step 4 Turn Dough out onto a very lightly floured work surface. Divide evenly into 2 pieces (about 1 pound, 2 ounces each). Working with 1 Dough piece at a time, roll into a 14- x 7-inch rectangle. Spread half of the cooled Filling (about 1 cup) on top of Dough rectangle, spreading to edges. Starting with 1 long side, roll up jelly-roll style, and pinch each end to seal. Shape into a ring (about 7 inches in diameter), and pinch ends together to seal. Place ring, seam side down, on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Repeat process using remaining Dough and Filling, placing ring on a separate greased baking sheet. 

    Step 5 Using kitchen shears and keeping Dough ring on baking sheet, make cuts around 1 ring at 1½-inch intervals, cutting from outer edge and in toward center, leaving about ¾ inch attached at the center. Turn each cut section, in the same direction, to lie on its side with the Filling side exposed. Repeat process with remaining Dough ring. Cover rings loosely with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place (75°F to 85°F) until doubled in volume, about 1 hour. 

    Step 6 About 30 minutes before Dough is finished rising, preheat oven to 350°F with racks in top third and lower third positions. Meanwhile, whisk together egg yolk and 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl. Brush Dough rings lightly with egg mixture. Bake until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes, rotating baking sheets between   top and bottom racks halfway through bake time. Do not remove from oven. Cool completely on baking sheets in oven, about 30 minutes.

    Step 7 Whisk together powdered sugar and 2 teaspoons of the milk in a small bowl. Add remaining 1 teaspoon milk, ¼ teaspoon at a time, if needed to thin glaze to a pourable consistency. Drizzle glaze over rings; let stand 10 minutes. Serve warm.