Orange Rolls with Cream Cheese Glaze
orange rolls sweet rolls

Orange Rolls with Zesty Cream Cheese Glaze

These may be the zestiest, orangiest orange rolls you’ve ever had.

They’re also probably the softest and fluffiest rolls you’ve ever had. How is this possible, you may ask?

First, before I spill all my secrets, let me tell you a story. Last fall, I started experimenting with orange rolls. Several batches were made, but I just wasn’t happy with the results. Every dough that I had in my repertoire was turning out too dry and stale for me. I believe this is because regular cinnamon rolls rely on a lot of butter and sugar inside the filling to keep the dough moist. Since there tends to be less filling in orange rolls, they needed to have a different type of dough. They needed to be extra.

What is tangzhong, anyway?

I went on a hunt, and I decided to try a dough using the Japanese technique called tangzhong. With this technique, you mix a small amount of flour and water to make a smooth paste. Then you combine the paste with the rest of the dough ingredients. Now I’m no science expert, so I had to Google how this works to I can explain it to you. According to King Arthur Flour, making the flour paste pre-gelatinizes the starches in the flour so they are able to absorb more moisture.

Orange Rolls with Cream Cheese Glaze

Not only that, but heating the flour to make the paste creates more structure within the dough, so it is able to hold onto the moisture during all stages of the cooking process. That makes the dough less sticky, the dough will proof better, and the rolls stay softer longer. Sounds amazing, right? It is! Whoever came up with this technique is a genius.

I was familiar with tangzhong because I’d tried it before making Japanese milk bread, so I couldn’t wait to try it again. If trying this sounds a little on the intimidating side, please don’t be scared! It is really no different than making any other dough, and you will love it. Orange Rolls with Cream Cheese Glaze


Another amazing thing about this recipe is that you can make it in advance. In fact, if you’d like this rolls fresh in the morning but don’t want to get up at the crack of dawn, you can put them in the fridge after you cut and shape the rolls. In the morning, just take them out of the fridge and let them proof for one to one and a half hours, and bake as normal. It is fantastic, and it will change your life!

Orange Rolls with Orange Cream Cheese Glaze

I hope you love these as much as I do. Enjoy!

Orange Rolls with Cream Cheese Glaze

Orange Rolls with Cream Cheese Glaze

These may be the softest, zestiest, orangiest orange rolls you've ever had. 

Servings 12 rolls


For the flour paste:

  • 1/4 cup bread flour
  • 2/3 cup water

For the dough:

  • 2/3 cup whole milk
  • 1 large egg plus one large egg yolk
  • 2 3/4 cups bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • zest from one orange
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

For the filling:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark or light brown sugar
  • zest from 1 1/2 oranges

For the frosting:

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • pinch of salt
  • zest from half an orange


For the flour paste:

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and water until no lumps remain. Microwave in 25 second increments, stirring between each increment, until mixture has become a smooth paste (should be about 50 seconds). 

For the dough:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine flour paste and milk then whisk until smooth. Add egg and egg yolk and mix until combined. Add flour and yeast, then place bowl in the stand mixer fitted with dough attachment. Let mix for one or two minutes or until all the flour has been moistened. It helps to scrape down the bowl during this process to help the flour incorporate. Let the mixture stand for 15 minutes. 

  2. Add salt, sugar, and zest then mix on medium-low speed for about five minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl to encourage the dough to stick together. Add the butter to the dough, then mix for an additional five minutes, scraping down the bowl as necessary. The dough will stick to the bottom of the bowl. 

  3. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for less than 30 seconds to make a smooth, round ball. Transfer the dough, seam side down, into a lightly greased bowl. Lightly spray the dough with non-stick spray, then cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled, 40 minutes to one hour. 

For the filling:

  1. In a small bowl, mix together granulated sugar, brown sugar, and orange zest until well incorporated. Set aside.

  2. Line a 9x13 cake pan with a foil sling and lightly grease with cooking spray. Set aside.

  3. After the dough has proofed, turn it out onto a lightly-floured surface and roll into an 18x15 rectangle, with the long edge nearest you. Spread the softened butter evenly over the surface of the rectangle, making sure to leave a 1"  border on the top. Spread filling evenly over the surface of the dough. Starting with the long side of the dough, roll the dough into a cylinder, making sure not to roll the dough too tightly. Pinch the seam to seal, then make any adjustments needed to the roll so it is 18" long and even. Cut the log into 12 slices with dental floss and arrange evenly in the pan. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and let proof for 40 minutes to an hour, or until the rolls are puffy and touching each other. 

  4. Toward the end of the second proof, preheat oven to 375 F and adjust rack to lower-middle position. Bake rolls until golden brown and internal temp measures 200 F (about 25 minutes). Remove and let cool for about 15 minutes. 

For the glaze:

  1. While the buns are cooling, cream together cream cheese, powdered sugar and zest. Add juice, vanilla, and salt, and mix until smooth and free from lumps. Spread or drizzle over the rolls. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes

Rolls can be made and refrigerated immediately after shaping, then refrigerated overnight, if necessary. To bake refrigerated rolls, remove from fridge and allow to proof for one hour to one and half hours, until buns are puffy and touching each other. 

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