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Spiced Orange Sourdough Sweet Rolls

Benito's picture

Spiced Orange Sourdough Sweet Rolls

I’m still down in Florida for almost another two months. I felt like baking something sweet so I thought that oranges would be a good way to celebrate Florida. I have posted about my sweet roll before, this bake adds orange zest to flavour each component of the rolls, the dough, filling and glaze. I added a hint of cinnamon so that the flavour wasn’t too one note. I don’t have a stand mixer here in Florida so I fully developed the dough by hand. It actually required 1000 slap and folds!

I shared these with our friends in our building and everyone loved them. I will definitely make these again but perhaps increase the cinnamon to 1 tsp. so that it is a slightly stronger hint.

To prevent the layers of the rolls from having gaps, I now add some all purpose flour to the filling.  Because the sugar in the filling is hygroscopic, I have found that the water it draws out from the dough causes the layers to separate when baking.  By adding flour at a 1:4 ratio to the sugar this separation no longer happens.

Zest of 1 orange in the dough


For 9 Rolls in a 8” x 8” pan


30 g butter

90 g brown sugar

22.5 g all purpose flour

½ tsp cinnamon

2 tbsp orange zest

Orange simple syrup

100 g sugar

Juice of 1 orange

Zest of 1 orange



Mix the levain ingredients in a jar or pyrex container with space for at least 300% growth.

Press down with your knuckles or silicone spatula to create a uniform surface and to push out air.

At a temperature of 76ºF, it typically takes up to 10-12 hours for this sweet stiff levain to be at peak. For my starter I typically see 3-3.5 times increase in size at peak. The levain will smell sweet with only a mild tang.


In a sauce pan set on medium heat, stir the milk and flour until blended. Then cook for several minutes until well thickened, stirring regularly with a spoon or heat-resistant spatula. Let cool in the pan or, for faster results, in a new bowl. Theoretically it should reach 65ºC (149ºF) but I don’t find I need to measure the temperature as the tangzhong gelatinizes at this temperature. You can prepare this the night before and refrigerate it, ensure that it is covered to prevent it from drying out.

If you plan on using a stand mixer to mix this dough, set up a Bain Marie and use your stand mixer’s bowl to prepare the tangzhong.


In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the milk (consider holding back 10 g of milk and adding later if this is the first time you’re making this), egg, tangzhong, salt, sugar and levain. Mix and then break up the levain into many smaller pieces. Next add the flours. I like to use my spatula to mix until there aren’t many dry areas. Allow the flour to hydrate (fermentolyse) for 20-30 minutes. Mix on low speed and then medium speed until moderate gluten development this may take 5-10 mins. You may want to scrape the sides of the bowl during the first 5 minutes of mixing. Next add room temperature butter one pat at a time. The dough may come apart, be patient, continue to mix until it comes together before adding in more butter. Once all the butter has been added and incorporated increase the speed gradually to medium. Mix at medium speed until the gluten is well developed, approximately 10 mins. You will want to check gluten development by windowpane during this time and stop mixing when you get a good windowpane. You should be able to pull a good windowpane, not quite as good as a white flour because the bran will interrupt the windowpane somewhat. Next add the zest of two oranges, that way they do not interfere with the gluten development. Mix until they are well incorporated in the dough.

On the counter, shape the dough into a tight ball, cover in the bowl and ferment for 2 - 3 hours at 82ºF. There may be some rise visible at this stage.

Optional cold retard overnight or just 1.5 hours to chill the dough for easier shaping.

Prepare your pan by greasing it or line with parchment paper.

This dough is very soft. Act quickly to roll, spread the filling, and cut before the dough warms and softens further. If it begins to soften, place it in the fridge to firm.

Remove your bulk fermentation container from the fridge, lightly flour your work surface in a large rectangle shape, and the top of the dough in the bowl. Then, gently scrape out the dough to the center of your floured rectangle. Lightly dust the top of the dough with flour, and using a rolling pin, roll the dough out to a 15″ x 15″ square or larger rectangle.

Brush melted butter on rolled dough. Sprinkle brown sugar orange spice mix on top.

Starting at one of the long sides of the rectangle in front of you, begin rolling up the dough as you move across. Be sure to tightly roll the dough by gently tugging on the dough as you roll.

Once finished rolling up the dough, divide it into nine 1 1/2″ pieces using a sharp knife. Transfer the pieces to the prepared baking pan and cover with a large, reusable bag, place in a warm spot. I use my proofing box set to 82°F. Final proof may take 3-6 hours, be patient and wait until the dough passes the finger poke test.

Be sure to start preheating your oven about 30 minutes before you feel the rolls will be fully proofed. For me, the final warm proof time was about 3 hours at 77°F (25°C).


Preheat your oven, with a rack in the middle, to 400°F (200°C). After the warm proof, uncover your dough and gently press the tops of a few rolls. The fully proofed cardamom rolls will look very soft. The texture of the dough will be almost like a whipped mousse. Be sure to give them extra time in warm proof if necessary. If the dough needs more time to proof, cover the pan and give the dough another 15 to 30 minutes at a warm temperature and check again.

Once your oven is preheated, remove your pan from its bag, slide it into the oven, and bake for 30 to 35 minutes.

Orange simple syrup.

While your rolls are baking, prepare the simple syrup. Combine the orange simple sugar ingredients in a saucepan and heat until boiling for several minutes to reduce and thicken. Remove from the heat and let cool until ready to use.

The rolls are finished baking when the tops are well-colored and the internal temperature is around 195°F (90°C). Remove the rolls from the oven and brush on the cardamom-infused simple syrup. Let the rolls cool for 5 to 10 minutes in the pan, then serve.

These are best the day they’re made, and certainly fresh from the oven, but can be reheated in a warm oven a day or two after.

My index of bakes


CalBeachBaker's picture

Looks delicious Benny - I'll bet they were great with the morning coffee.


Benito's picture

Thank you Tony, it was great as dessert last night.  The rest of this bake was given to our neighbours so none left to have with coffee today.


jo_en's picture

Amazing and oozing with color!

Benito's picture

Thank you very much 🙏🙏🙏🙏 they were very good with lots of orange flavour.


Isand66's picture

You’re killing my diet just looking at these 😂

They must have tasted as good as hey look.

Happy baking.


Benito's picture

Thanks Ian.  I’d have eaten two but used some restraint and only had one.  The only way to stay on a diet is to give away your bakes.

Happy Baking.