What should I bring to Thanksgiving, part 1: Cranberry rolls

You have a Thanksgiving dinner to attend later this week. “Bring whatever,” your host said when you were texting about it last week.

So, what are you going to bring? I’m asking myself that same question this week for a dinner at my aunt’s on Thursday. I’ll roll out half a dozen suggestions, starting with these sweet dough rolls that are studded with bits of tart cranberries, making for a nice contrast in flavor and texture.

If you are making these another time of year and can’t find fresh cranberries, you can use cranberry sauce as the filling.

These cranberry rolls use a homemade cranberry sauce, but you could use any that’s leftover from Thanksgiving. Photo by Lucy Schaeffer.

These cranberry rolls use a homemade cranberry sauce, but you could use any that’s leftover from Thanksgiving. Photo by Lucy Schaeffer.

Cranberry Rolls

1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 cup sugar, divided
1 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
1 large egg
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted, plus more for the bowl and pan
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup fresh cranberries
1/2 cup sugar
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 orange
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
2 Tbsp. turbinado or raw sugar

Mix the dough: In a small saucepan or in the microwave, warm the milk to 110 to 115 degrees. Stir in about 1 teaspoon of the sugar and all of the yeast. Set aside for a few minutes, until foamy.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the egg, butter, vanilla and the yeast mixture until just combined. Add the flour, salt and the remaining sugar.

Fit the mixer with the dough hook and mix on medium speed to make a smooth dough, 3 to 4 minutes. The dough will be very sticky at this point, but refrain from adding additional flour, which will result in a dense, heavy roll.

Put the dough in a lightly buttered bowl, turn to coat, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 2 hours.

Meanwhile, make the filling: In a small saucepan, stir together the cranberries, sugar, orange zest and orange juice. Cook over medium-low heat, partially covered, until the cranberries pop, 7 to 8 minutes. Transfer the filling to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate until completely cool.

Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and press down gently. Knead for a minute, then roll it out into a 10-inch-by-16-inch rectangle. Spread the cranberry filling evenly over the surface of the dough.

Butter a 10-inch round metal pan. Cut the dough crosswise into 8 strips that are 2 inches wide. Form each strip into a knot and put the roll into the prepared pan. Form the remaining rolls in the same manner, arranging them evenly in the pan. (Forming the rolls will get messy, but don’t worry — it will be worth it in the end!)

Brush the tops of the rolls with the melted butter and sprinkle the turbinado sugar over the tops. Cover the rolls with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm spot until doubled in volume, 20 to 30 minutes.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the rolls until they are golden brown, about 25 minutes. Let cool about 20 minutes before serving warm. Store leftover rolls in an airtight container for up to 4 days. To serve, pop one in the microwave for about 30 seconds to slightly soften and warm it. Makes 8 rolls.

— From “Laura in the Kitchen: Favorite Italian-American Recipes Made Easy” by Laura Vitale (Clarkson Potter, $24.99)


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