This is a fabulous show-stopper for Christmas breakfast or brunch. It can be made the day before so there is zero work in the morning – yet you can treat your guests to the most special start to the day. I personally love these Cranberry and Almond Christmas Buns and presenting them in the festive tree shape just makes them all the more seasonal.
This is such a lovely way of making the most of fresh cranberries which are rarely available in the shops at other times. I’m freezing some this year so I can make these buns all the time as they are just so good. They add moisture and a lovely sharp contrast to the sweetness of the marzipan. I have also used mixed dried fruit and love the combination of raisins, sultanas and the orange and lemon peel. You can always mix your own when you are weighing it out or omit anything which is not for you.
Although the recipe looks long I promise these buns are really straight forward and don’t take too long to make – there are just quite a few steps along the way. But each one is easy so please give these a go. They taste amazing and are actually pretty cheap to make too. A festive winner!
Cranberry and Almond Christmas Bun Tree
- For the dough:
- 275ml milk
- 50g butter
- 450g strong white bread flour
- 7g sachet dried yeast (fast action)
- 50g caster sugar
- ½ teaspoon ginger powder
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon salt
- flavourless oil for greasing (for example sunflower or vegetable oil)
- For the filling:
- 200g marzipan (it’s easier if it’s been refrigerated first)
- zest of one orange
- 120g fresh cranberries
- 120g mixed dried fruit
- To glaze:
- 2 tablespoons plum or apricot jam without any lumps
- 3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
- 150g icing sugar
- a handful of flaked almonds
- Step 1 Warm the milk until hot but not boiling, remove from the heat and stir in the butter until it’s melted.
- Step 2 In a large bowl combine the flour, yeast, sugar, spices and salt.
- Step 3 While the milk is warm, add into the flour mix, it will make a sticky dough.
- Step 4 Kneed on a worktop for 10mins or used a electric whisk or table top mixer with a dough hook for 5mins.
- Step 5 When the dough is smooth and stretchy, place in an oiled bowl and cover with oiled cling film. Leave in a warm place to double in size. This should take 1-2 hours.
- Step 6 When it’s risen, roll out into a rectangle around 30cm x 40cm.
- Step 7 In a bowl combine the orange zest, fresh cranberries and mixed dried fruit. Grate the marzipan over the rolled out dough and evenly scatter the mixed fruit over too.
- Step 8 From a longer sides, tightly roll up the dough into a sausage shape.
- Step 9 Using a sharp knife cut into 12 even sized buns. I tend to cut the sausage of dough in half, then quarters then each of those into three.
- Step 10 On a large baking sheet with a silicon liner or some baking parchment, make a triangle with ten buns, cut side up. Make sure you leave space between them all as they are going to expand before baking and check all the ends of the roll are facing towards the middle so they don’t unravel while baking.
- Step 11 Place the other two buns on another sheet, I like to use the ends of the sausage for this as these are more likely to be less neat. They will make up the trunk.
- Step 12 Cover the trays of buns lightly with cling film and allow to prove for about 30mins or until they are doubled in size. They should be just touching.
- Step 13 Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/ gas 4. Bake in the centre of the oven for 20-25 mins until golden brown.
- Step 14 Remove the buns from the oven and heat the jam until it’s runny. Make the icing by mixing the sugar with orange juice. You can pop the icing in a piping bag or even just a plastic sandwich bag with the corner snipped off a tiny bit.
- Step 15 When the buns have cooled for 15mins, brush the jam all over the over the buns and drizzle the icing all over. Then garnish with the flaked almonds. You can then lay them on your serving platter with the trunk in situ. If you want a more artisan look then place on the platter before decorating so you have some drips and almonds on the plate too.
- Step 16 The icing should set in around 10mins and then the buns are ready to serve. They will keep in an airtight container leave the icing to set for 10 mins before serving. Will keep in an airtight container for up to three days.