The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Cranberry Orange Walnut Christmas Wreath

Benito's picture

Cranberry Orange Walnut Christmas Wreath

This is a recipe I found in Southern Living magazine that is relatively quick that uses commercial yeast to make.  I wanted to make several of these over the next couple of weeks to bring to work and to other places that are closed on the weekends when I’m off work.  Therefore I needed something that I could squeeze into a work day somehow and this seemed to be that recipe.  At some point in the future I would like to make this using my starter, but for now this is a faster way to make these that fits my current work situation.  There are no tasting notes accompanying this post, unless my colleagues at work save me a roll.





  • 1 cup whole milk 240 g

  • ½ cup unsalted butter melted

  • ½ cup granulated sugar 100 g
  • ¼ cup water 75 g

  • 1 (¼-oz.) envelope active dry yeast 7 g

  • 4 cups unbleached bread flour, divided, plus more for work surface 480 g  (180g, 100 g 200g)

  • 1 large egg, at room temperature

  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt 5.69 g


  • 1 cup fresh or thawed frozen cranberries

  • 1 cup pecan halves (Walnuts)

  • ¾ cup chopped unpeeled orange (from 1 orange) 

  • ¾ cup packed dark brown sugar

  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt


Additional Ingredients

  • 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature

  • ½ cup powdered sugar

  • 2 - 3 teaspoons whole milk, as needed



Instructions Checklist


Because the dough goes directly into the fridge after mixing start night before.


Step 1 Prepare the Dough: Stir together milk, butter, and ¼ cup water in a small saucepan. Cook over medium-low, stirring often, just until butter is melted. Remove from heat. Let stand, stirring occasionally, until mixture cools to 120°F, 10 to 15 minutes. 


  • Alternate Step 1:  Melt butter.  Add  milk and ¼ cup water to the bowl with sugar, yeast and 1 ¼ cup flour in the bowl and mix.  Then add egg and another ¼ cup of flour beat until incorporated.  Then add salt, butter and remaining flour and mix until fully developed. 


  • Step 2 Stir together sugar, yeast, and 1¼ cups of the flour in bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add warm butter mixture, and beat on medium-low speed until well combined, about 1 minute. Add egg and ¼ cup of the flour. Beat until incorporated, about 2 minutes. With mixer running, gradually add salt and remaining 2½ cups flour, beating until mixture forms a stiff and sticky batter, about 1 minute. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Chill at least 4 hours or up to 12 hours. 

    Step 3 Prepare the Filling: Pulse cranberries, pecans, and chopped unpeeled orange in a food processor until finely chopped, 10 to 12 pulses. Transfer to a small saucepan; stir in brown sugar and salt. Cook over medium, stirring often, until mixture begins to bubble around pan edges, 3 to 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, stirring often, until thick and jammy, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Cool completely, about 1 hour. 

    Step 4 Turn Dough out onto a very lightly floured work surface. Divide evenly into 2 pieces (about 1 pound, 2 ounces each). Working with 1 Dough piece at a time, roll into a 14- x 7-inch rectangle. Spread half of the cooled Filling (about 1 cup) on top of Dough rectangle, spreading to edges. Starting with 1 long side, roll up jelly-roll style, and pinch each end to seal. Shape into a ring (about 7 inches in diameter), and pinch ends together to seal. Place ring, seam side down, on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Repeat process using remaining Dough and Filling, placing ring on a separate greased baking sheet. 

    Step 5 Using kitchen shears and keeping Dough ring on baking sheet, make cuts around 1 ring at 1½-inch intervals, cutting from outer edge and in toward center, leaving about ¾ inch attached at the center. Turn each cut section, in the same direction, to lie on its side with the Filling side exposed. Repeat process with remaining Dough ring. Cover rings loosely with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place (75°F to 85°F) until doubled in volume, about 1 hour. 

    Step 6 About 30 minutes before Dough is finished rising, preheat oven to 350°F with racks in top third and lower third positions. Meanwhile, whisk together egg yolk and 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl. Brush Dough rings lightly with egg mixture. Bake until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes, rotating baking sheets between   top and bottom racks halfway through bake time. Do not remove from oven. Cool completely on baking sheets in oven, about 30 minutes.

    Step 7 Whisk together powdered sugar and 2 teaspoons of the milk in a small bowl. Add remaining 1 teaspoon milk, ¼ teaspoon at a time, if needed to thin glaze to a pourable consistency. Drizzle glaze over rings; let stand 10 minutes. Serve warm.


happycat's picture

Fresh baking is like putting a little joy into the world. What a delightful surprise for your colleagues. I'm sure they'll pass a little of that goodwill onto others in turn.

Benito's picture

You’re so right about home baked treats, people at work always enjoy them and appreciate them, even if they aren’t perfect.  

gavinc's picture

Very thoughtful Benny. They look spectacular, and I'm sure the recipients will be appreciative of your efforts and kindness. My wife has made three Christmas cakes to give away so far, but I'm wondering when it will be mine!

Thanks for sharing the recipe.



Benito's picture

One of these years I need to make Christmas cakes.  I used to hate Christmas cake, but as with so many things that I hated when younger, I now enjoy them quite a bit.  Hopefully you will get to have some of the Christmas cake your wife made, if you do you should post the recipe that she uses.  Which makes me think, I need to make one of these for my partner and me otherwise he’ll be thinking the same thing as you are about your wife’s Christmas cakes.


Alan.H's picture

I have a sweet tooth that would win me Olympic gold if only they would recognize consuming sugary treats as an event.

Thank you for posting this recipe Benny. Your wreath looks absolutely delicious and I envy your work colleagues who might find one of those in their in tray.


Benito's picture

Thank you for your kind comments Alan, much appreciated.


CalBeachBaker's picture



Bakery Quality as usual - Looks delicious, you've got fortunate coworkers.


Benito's picture

Thanks for your comments Tony, much appreciated.  They do seem to be enjoying the quickly shrinking Christmas wreath.  I was able to eat a section of the it and can confirm that the flavours work and that the crumb is tender, yummy.


Isand66's picture

Your colleagues will be very happy to dig into these I’m sure.  I imagine when your have time the SD version will be awesome as well.  
Happy baking!


Benito's picture

My colleagues were full of compliments about this bake.  I do love the cranberry orange walnut filling, it is perfect for Christmas yet is well balanced with some tart, sweet, bitterness going on.  Thanks Ian and happy baking to you as well.


Benito's picture

I baked another pair of these today. It always shocks me when I use IDY how fast fermentation goes. Based on the last bake I added 15 mins of room temperature bulk after mixing prior to putting the dough in the fridge for 5 hours while I worked. Then after filling and shaping I gave the dough a longer two hour proof during which time the dough increased by 60%. This is better than my first bake which was a hit underproofed to my eye. These are presents again but I know that these rolls taste really good. I love the combination of cranberries walnuts and oranges. There is a bit of bitterness from the orange peel along with the tang of the cranberries to balance the sweetness of the brown sugar. one other change is that I added some toasted walnut oil to the filling rather than the dough since that is the component that has walnuts in it.