Heirloom Recipes

Make Easy Overnight Citrusy Rolls For a Sweeter Morning

March 29, 2018

As Food52 gets older (and wiser), and our archive of recipes grows, we’re making the effort to revisit some gold recipes from our community. Today's comes from longtime Food52er TheWimpyVegetarian and actually appears in our Baking cookbook, too!

Photo by Bobbi Lin

My great-grandmother, known to everyone in the family as Mamma, lived a long, healthy life in Alabama and passed away in her sleep at 90-something when I was just finishing college. I feel so fortunate to have known her for as long as I did. She knew how to make everyone feel special, as if being with you right at that moment was the best thing that had happened to her in a long time.

She had an open door policy to anyone who wanted to come "sit for a spell," so her home was always filled with people—family, friends, neighbors...and I suspect, friends of friends of friends who’d heard she could serve up a mighty good meal. Even though Mamma was always busy cooking up God knows how many dishes, she just bustled around us with a big smile and a hug as we drifted in and out of her small kitchen. As an only child, I was fascinated by all the people yelling to each other from across the room. And in fact, one of my earliest memories is of being in her kitchen, surrounded by a forest of legs (I’m guessing I was 2 or 3 years old at the time), and a counter heaped with food soaring far above me, completely out of reach.

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I can still remember the first time I had these soft little orange rolls, warm from the oven. I had a few (they’re really so small!) before they even made it onto the table for brunch. It was the first time in my memory of having any kind of homemade bread, and I realized in an instant what I’d been missing out on—they just melted in my mouth. The day my mom gave me the recipe, many years later, I immediately went to the store, and made these in my tiny apartment. They were just as good as I remembered.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Donna C.
    Donna C.
  • julia boyd
    julia boyd
  • AntoniaJames
  • Carol Schatz
    Carol Schatz
  • Susan Pridmore
    Susan Pridmore
Blogger, food writer, cooking teacher


Donna C. April 8, 2018
Followed recipe exactly, I am not new to baking or using yeast, but the dough seemed very loose even after adding an extra cup of flour. It spent the night in the fridge, when I placed it on a heavily floured counter it only needed to be patteded into shape, very fragile, not at all like a cinnamon bun... let it rise for 2 hours then put it in the oven. Is this supposed to be more cake like? It tastes fine but it has a very fine crumb, not at all bun/roll like.
I am wondering what the texture is supposed to be like...please advise.
Carol S. September 19, 2019
One possibility is the difference in the brand of flour used. A good example is using regional brand White Lily (soft winter wheat) instead of a typical national brand such as Gold Medal. Another possibility is the method used to measure those cups of flour as each of the 3 methods results in a different amount (especially weight) of flour.
julia B. March 29, 2018
Hi Susan ! These look fabulous !!! (I used to have a thing for those little orange sweet rolls in the can ~ I shudder to think that we once happily consumed these processed goods, but it was the 60's ~ a different time). I roll my eyes when readers immediately post questions about substituting this or that in a recipe...and I'm going to just go ahead and be that person today. My apologies. I'm a pastry chef who has customers and clients who eschew most shortenings these days. Would butter or lard be possible instead ? Many of us are avoiding the partially hydrogenated trans fats. I know that Spectrum Organics has a trans fat free shortening made from Palm oil....more expensive of course than typical shortening. It comes in butter flavor as well. My view is that a slice of flaky crusted pie or my grandmother's perfect molasses cookies are a once in awhile treat that needn't keep anyone up at night fretting over any of their ingredients, including shortening, but I just wanted to hear what you think about substitutions in this case. I have some gorgeous lard from a small organic farm that I would love to use....and I enjoy using butter flavored solid coconut oil as well. Either way, I can't wait to make your rolls !!!
Susan P. March 29, 2018
I've used all butter and they've been wonderful. I would imagine lard would work great too! Hope you have a chance to make them!
AntoniaJames March 29, 2018
What a lovely, evocative story . . . and what great-looking sticky buns! Hope you're doing well. ;o)
Susan P. March 29, 2018
How nice to hear from you AntoniaJames!!!! I have such a bounty of sweet memories of her, and when family gets together, someone invariably brings her (and her food) up. Life is very good here! We've left the Bay Area and live in Tahoe now full-time. Miss the Bay Area, but love it here too. Hope you're well!!