Start with 3 or 4 oranges. Wash them and grate the outer skin.
You ONLY want the very orange skin, not the white pulp underneath. Be careful not to scrape your finger or knuckle, as it is painful and the blood does nothing for the taste of the final product. Depending on how large your oranges are, you need about 3/4 cup of grated skin (NOT YOUR skin).
You should NOT grate so much off the orange that it cuts into the juice of the orange.
After you have 3/4 cup of grated skin, put the grated skin into a bowl. (I was making a larger batch here, so I am showing a full cup of zest.) The strength of the taste of orange is quite strong with 3/4 cup, so you might want to cut the amount back to 1/2 cup of zest if you taste buds don’t like that strong of an orange taste) Now add one bar of melted butter (1/2 cup) and 2 cups of sugar to the zest and mix thoroughly. This much sugar makes for a very sweet final taste, so if you want to cut back by adding only 1 or 1 and 1/2 cup of sugar this is fine. Mom felt that you could never make these rolls too sweet.
Set this mixture aside and allow it to cool down to room temperature, so it won’t be too runny when you put it on the orange roll batter.
Now, lightly beat three XL eggs in a large glass or ceramic bowl (you probably will need to warm it up in the microwave and metal bowls do not agree at all with microwaves).
Combine this with 2 cups of milk (Mom always used whole milk or at least milk with the most fat in it). Add 1 tsp vanilla and 1/3 cup oil. (I use olive oil, but Mom always used melted vegetable oil) Stir and mix together. Since we need to raise the temperature to allow the yeast to do its wonders, put the mixture in a microwave to slightly warm up the milk and egg mixture to about body temperature or about 100 degrees. I use a thermometer and carefully raise the temperature. Normally this takes about 1 and 1/2 minutes in the microwave.
Now, you need to prepare the dry ingredients in a large bowl that you will use to mix and knead the dough. Take two cups of while bleached flour (Mom never used other flour except for special occasions) and add one tablespoon of yeast and one teaspoon of salt. Mix everything well with a wire whisk, then add the liquid mixture of milk and eggs. Mix everything well and allow the yeast to activate for 10 minutes. The mixture will start forming little bubbles to show that the yeast is working.
Now comes the messy part — mixing and kneading the dough. Make sure that your hands are washed and clean. Add three more cups of flour a little at a time while mixing, and end up kneading the dough with your hands. The dough will be moist and sticky. Knead the dough vigorously for five minutes. Spray the bowl and dough with cooking spray and cover with plastic wrap and place in warm spot to rise. I use an over that has been warmed up — BUT NOT HOT. I think anything over about 120 degrees is too hot to properly rise the dough. When the dough has doubled in size, put it out on a floured surface and roll flat.
Spread the zest/sugar/butter mixture on the dough.
Gently roll up the dough into itself.
Using a thin two-foot piece of dental floss, scoot the floss under the end of the dough and cross it over itself to cut each piece of roll about 1 and 1/2 inch thick. This is much better than trying to cut the dough with a knife — which will simply crush the dough roll.
Place each piece on a baking pan with edges that will not let juices easily boil out into the oven.
Cover and allow to rise till doubled in volume.
Place the rolls into an oven that has been pre-heated to 350 degrees and bake for 35 minutes till lightly browned on top. (alternatively, you may bake them at 390 degrees for only 25 minutes)
As quickly as possible, turn the rolls out of the pan onto aluminum foil. Be careful turning the rolls out of their pan, as hot liquids can easily burn fingers and hands nearby.
…..And there you have it — Grandmother Marie’s Orange Rolls!
Basic list of ingredients:
- 3 oranges whose skin (zest) has been scraped off
- 2 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup melted butter
- 5 cups flour
- 1 Tbs yeast
- 2 cups milk
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/3 cup oil
- 3 (extra large) eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla