Christmas tree shaped pastry on brown parchment paper with an orange star on top and orange slices, rosemary and cranberries for garnish.

Cranberry Orange Pull-Apart Christmas Tree

5.0 from 1 vote

My cranberry orange pull-apart Christmas tree has all the flavors of Christmas, it’s perfect for sharing, and it’s so beautiful! Serve this alongside eggs, bacon and fresh fruit as wonderful addition to your next holiday brunch spread, or as a delicious dessert. I adapted my favorite cinnamon roll recipe from Ambitious Kitchen to make the dough. The orange and cranberry flavors work so well together; you’ll want to make this one again and again!

Here’s how I made my Cranberry Orange Pull-Apart Christmas Tree:

I started this off just like I would with a cinnamon roll dough. Once the dough came together, I took the bowl off the mixer, added a few drops of olive oil, covered it tightly and set it to rise. You may notice that this dough doesn’t rise quite as much as you expect it to, but I find that adding citrus to a dough causes it to rise less. So don’t be worried about that!

If your house is cold, try this tip: set your oven to preheat to 350 and set a timer for 1 minute. When the timer goes off, shut your oven right back off and place the covered bowl inside. The oven will have gotten slightly warm and will be the perfect spot for your dough to rise! Just remember that the dough is in there before you turn the oven on, or you will be very sad.

Once your dough has risen, weigh it with a kitchen scale if you have one so that you can separate it into two equal sections. The next step is what I found to be the hardest – working each section of dough, one at a time, into a triangle shape. You could always roll them out and cut them into triangles, but then you would end up wasting dough and I didn’t want to do that. I basically just rolled my dough and stretched it until I was happy with my first triangle and then I repeated the process with my second ball of dough. Your dough shouldn’t be sticky, so don’t over-flour your work surface before you start to form your triangles. A very light dusting of flour will do the trick!

Once you have your two triangles, place one on a parchment-lined cutting board, spread your butter and then your marmalade, and then place the second triangle on top. You may have to stretch it a bit to get it to evenly match up with the bottom triangle. It doesn’t have to be perfect!

Before I started to make the cuts in my tree, I wanted to have a guide to work from, so I placed a piece of kitchen twine down the center of the triangle and then laid a piece of twine on either side of the center twine, about 1/2 inch from the center. These outer pieces of twine gave me a line to start all of my cuts from. Working from the bottom up, cut your dough from your twine guide, out to the edge. You want to make strips that are about an inch thick and then you can leave a couple of inches uncut at the top to maintain the triangle shape of the tree. Once the cuts are all done on both sides, grab the parchment paper and transfer your tree onto a rimmed baking sheet. You’re ready to start twisting now!

Twist each section several times, working from the bottom up, one side at a time. Once you’re done twisting, you can cover your tree and allow it to rise once again for about 30-40 mins, or you can skip the second rise. I rested my tree for 15 mins while the oven heated and didn’t do a full second rise. Right before putting the tree into the oven, brush it with an egg wash. Then bake it on the middle rack of a 350 F oven for about 20-25 mins until golden brown.

Make your frosting while your tree bakes and transfer it to a smaller bowl. Once your tree is golden brown and done, allow it to cool for about 10 mins so that the frosting doesn’t melt when you put it on. I like to add a light layer of frosting so that you can see the twists, the dried cranberries and the orange marmalade swirling through. I finished it with a light dusting of powdered sugar and added a few more dried cranberries for garnish. Serve warm and enjoy!

As seen on instagram here.

Cranberry Orange Pull-Apart Christmas Tree

Recipe by Sarah
5.0 from 1 vote
Course: Brunch, Dessert, BreakfastCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Medium
Servings

12

servings
Prep time

2

hours 

10

minutes
Cooking time

25

minutes
Calories

339

kcal

My cranberry orange pull-apart Christmas tree has all the flavors of Christmas, is perfect for sharing and makes a beautiful centerpiece on any holiday table.

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Ingredients

  • Dough:
  • 3/4 c warm milk (110 degrees F)

  • 2 1/4 tsp instant yeast

  • 1/4 c sugar

  • 2 eggs (1 egg + 1 egg yolk) at room temp

  • 1/4 c melted butter (I use salted butter in the dough)

  • 3 c bread flour

  • 3/4 tsp Himalayan salt

  • 1 tbsp orange zest

  • 1/2 c dried cranberries

  • Filling:
  • 2 1/2 tbsp softened butter (unsalted)

  • 1/2 c orange marmalade

  • Other:
  • 1 beaten egg for egg wash

  • 1-2 tsp powdered sugar for dusting (optional)

  • Frosting:
  • 3 tbsp softened butter (unsalted)

  • 4 oz. cream cheese (room temp)

  • 3/4 c + 1 tbsp powdered sugar

  • 1-2 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice

  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

  • 1 pinch Himalayan salt

Directions

  • In the bowl of your stand mixer, add the warm milk and the yeast and stir. Then add the sugar, egg + egg yolk and melted butter. Mix well. Add in flour and salt and stir until a dough starts to form. Add your orange zest and then mix with a dough hook on low for 7 mins. Add the dried cranberries and mix on low for 1 more minute. Remove from stand mixer, push dough to the side, add in a few drops of olive oil, roll the dough in the oil, cover and let it rise for 1-2 hours. 
  • Once the dough has risen, divide it into two equal sections. I used a kitchen scale for accuracy. On a lightly floured surface, using a rolling pin and your hands, gently work each section of dough into a triangle shape. You want your triangles to be about 14 inches tall. 
  • Once you’ve formed your triangles, you’ll want to lay the first one onto a cutting board, but be sure to have a piece of parchment over the board to make it easier to move the tree from the board to your rimmed baking sheet later. Lay the first triangle out and spread a thin layer of softened butter evenly over the surface. Spread the orange marmalade evenly over the butter and then lay the second triangle on top. Work and stretch your dough as needed to get the two triangles lined up at the edges as evenly as possible. 
  • The next step is to cut your branches, by cutting even strips up both sides of the tree. I used three pieces of kitchen twine to make a cutting guide on the dough. I put one piece of twine down the middle as the center and then put one piece of twine, about 1/2 inch from the center, on either side which is where I started my cuts. Starting from the bottom and working your way up, one side at a time, cut strips about 1 inch thick, from your twine guide out to the edge. I left a couple of inches at the top of the tree so that it would maintain the triangle shape at the top. 
  • Next, carefully lift the tree, using the parchment paper, and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Then working from the bottom up, twist each strip upwards several times and repeat on the other side of your tree. Once the twists are done, lightly cover and allow the tree to either rest for 15 mins or rise again for 30-45 mins. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350. 
  • Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the tree with egg wash and then place into the heated oven, on the middle rack. Bake for 20-25 mins, until golden brown. 
  • While your tree is baking, make the frosting. Beat your butter and cream cheese until well combined, then add powdered sugar, vanilla, orange juice and salt. Continue to mix on medium-high until your frosting is smooth. 

  • Once the tree is done baking, allow it to cool for about 10 mins. Lightly frost and then dust with powdered sugar. You’ll have extra frosting that can be served on the side. Serve warm and enjoy! 

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