Christmas Cranberry Cinnamon Rolls

Sometime in early October, on a day when our driveway was getting torn up for plumbing issues, I had just come back from a trip to Chicago and Tim and I were in the throes of heavy budget talks, we got some life-changing, almost unbelievable, genuinely good news that has been hard to keep from you until now:


We’re having a baby. We who, this February, grieved the loss of a little one sat, two weeks ago, in my midwife’s office, hearing this baby’s heartbeat, loud and strong like horses galloping so fast, I cried with joy and relief. I’m 13 weeks along, I have the tiniest bump under my shirt, I now own two pairs of maternity pants and we have an organic baby rattle from Uncle Adam sitting on the desk in our office. We feel so grateful and amazed and maybe still a little in disbelief. 2014 has been a year of much stretching and growing and grieving and being comforted, and we have our hands open to receive whatever and however God gives next. We don’t think a baby is the greatest gift or the only gift, and I spent most of this year realizing how sweet and precious the Giver is to me, far more than anything He sends. But still we are thankful and praising Him at this little miracle, because we know it is from Him and because we love Him so much. It is such a joy to get to rejoice with you all, our online friends, as we thank Him now. Merry Christmas and Christmas cranberry cinnamon rolls for everyone!


Christmas Cranberry Cinnamon Rolls
My first trimester has been blessedly low on nausea or major discomforts, but that is not to say I haven’t been eating a lower number of average vegetables and a higher amount of fresh fruit and baked goods. Whatever Baby wants, right? That’s probably why these cinnamon rolls are not the first but the second cinnamon rolls we Mallons have enjoyed this month, but these with cranberries added to the filling. They are adapted from The Recipe Critic and the thing I like best about them, besides obviously the sweet and gooey results, is that there’s only one 30-minute rise time.

for the dough:
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup buttermilk
3 1/4 cups all-purpose einkorn flour (want to know more about einkorn flour?
1 package active dry yeast
1/4 cup Sucanat (unrefined cane sugar)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/4 cup kefir
for the filling:
3/4 cup Sucanat
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1/3 cup dried cranberries
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
for the cream cheese icing:
6 ounces organic cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup Sucanat, ground into powder in the Vitamix in 10 seconds or so
1/8 to 1/4 cup plain whole-milk kefir (or milk or cream would probably work)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Start by making the dough: In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, warm the butter and milk. Stir together until butter has melted. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

While mixture cools, grab a large mixing bowl and combine 2 1/4 cups of the flour with yeast, Sucanat, and salt. Add the egg and the kefir, and stir together until well combined. Slowly add in the warmed milk mixture and 1 cup of flour, until the dough starts to form and become smooth. Form into a ball and let rest in the bowl for 10 minutes.

Make the rolls’ filling by combining cinnamon, sugar and cranberries from filling ingredients in a small bowl. Grease a 9″ by 13″ pan with butter.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a large 9″ × 15″ square, about 1/4 to 1/2″ thick. Spread the butter (from the filling ingredients) over the top and then add the cinnamon/sugar mixture all over the top of this.

Starting with the long (15″) side, roll the dough up into a log and pinch the ends together at the end. Cut this log into 9 to 2 slices, depending on how thick you want your rolls to be.

Roll up the 15 inch side into a log and pinch the seams. Cut into 9 to 12 slices depending on how thick you want your cinnamon rolls. Place rolls in the prepared 9″ by 13″ pan and cover with a damp cloth. Set in a warm place to rest and rise for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, preheat oven to 375F degrees. Remove cover from rolls and bake them for 30 minutes or until just golden brown on the tops. Make the cream cheese glaze while the rolls slightly cool by beating cream cheese and powdered Sucanat together in a large bowl. Add kefir and vanilla and mix until soft and whipped like frosting. Ice rolls and enjoy them while still warm!

About Shanna Mallon

Shanna Mallon is a freelance writer who holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her work has been featured in a variety of media outlets, including The Kitchn, Better Homes & Gardens, Taste of Home,, Foodista, Entrepreneur, and Ragan PR. In 2014, she co-authored The Einkorn Cookbook with her husband, Tim. Today, you can find her digging into food topics and celebrating the everyday grace of eating on her blog, Go Eat Your Bread with Joy. Shanna lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with Tim and their two small kids.

83 thoughts on “Christmas Cranberry Cinnamon Rolls”

  1. Congratulations, Shanna and TIm!! What wonderful news – such a blessing. My very best wishes for your pregnancy. Shanna, you write so beautifully – I am always pleased when a new post pops up in my reader and especially today with your fantastic news!

  2. oh my gosh, so so excited for you guys!! i nearly jumped out of my chair reading this. what a blessing, to two of the most amazing people. i’ll be praying for you and thinking of all – hope you stay feeling well! xo

  3. Such exciting news! I thought about you often since your grief of last winter…I remember reading that post right about the time I was announcing that I was expecting. This news makes me SO happy!

  4. YAY!! I was hoping a baby was what “some news” meant when i clicked over from pinterest. So excited for y’all! You are already the cutest mama-to-be. Merry Christmas!
    “how sweet and precious the Giver is to me, far more than anything He sends” – love that. writing it down.

    • That line is the one that means the most to me. (Of course you would get it.) Glad to have met you this year, Katie, and to have talked parasites and miscarriages and God’s goodness with you across a table at Fido. You are a sweetheart and kindred spirit, and I’m glad to know you.

  5. Deep and hearty congratulations. No, a babe is not the best or only gift, but a very particular, peculiar, multifaceted, and multivalent gift all the same. One that begs a lifetime of pondering, and love. And so enjoy, always.

  6. Of course you know I love this! And, I’m going to play a little bit as the devil’s advocate here and say, a baby is really one of the very, very best gifts He gives. After she arrives and you hold that baby for the very first time and you’re crying the happiest of tears because you can’t believe she’s yours and your heart nearly bursts because you have NO idea how you could love someone so deeply, I have the slightest inkling you’ll tell Tim, “okay, this is close to the best gift ever”. No, seriously. I’ll wait for you to confirm this in about six months 🙂 Okay, devil’s advocate stuff aside, I am so incredibly thankful, with you, for this tiny and wonderful gift! Love to you THREE.

    • We are so thankful, too. When I think of how much I know you love your three kiddos and when I think how much I love my Tim in marriage now, it is amazing to realize God’s goodness and love is infinitely greater than even these sweet things. It is also amazing to know that even if God never gave me my husband or this baby or any of the other obviously sweet things of this life, He would be so infinitely gracious to me. Grace upon grace upon grace from His hand. And no matter what happens, He is the good that cannot be taken away! May my heart ever cling to Him, the source of all good and beauty and sweetness, from precious babies to sweet fellowship with friends to good food to eat. May He give me grace to love those things with open hands. He is the best gift. And I have Him.

      • Wow, Shanna. I love what you shared. Your words are true and God honoring and I’m so encouraged by you, every time. I also am so happy for your news! May Jesus hold and protect and bless your sweet little one, and you and Tim too. 🙂

  7. This is such wonderful news! Congratulations!!! I’m very excited for you 🙂 I know you two will be such wonderful parents. This parenting journey has yielded the most joy and growth I have ever known in my life, and it always makes me smile (and tear up a little) when I see someone start on that path. Hugs to you and a very merry Christmas indeed 🙂

  8. Oh, Shanna and Tim! I am over the moon excited for the two of you! Good news is always good, but when good news comes from two of the kindest people, it makes it that much sweeter. Many, many congratulations

  9. Such HAPPY news!!! 🙂 Being pregnant is the most wonderful + sacred thing…such an incredible blessing! I hope you continue to feel good + grow well. 😉

  10. Congratulations to you both!! I know you will look for all of the blessings and learning and stretching in every way this baby has to offer. I have a nearly 7 month old and though the exhaustion is very real, and sometimes overwhelming, it pales against the awe and beauty. Here are several unsolicited pieces of advice: even though I took a bradley method class and was prepared for natural childbirth by years of meditation and yoga, also hiring a doula was invaluable. If nursing hurts, get help. Keep getting help until you figure it out. 7 weeks in we finally hired an LC who diagnosed my son with a posterior tongue tie. It took another 7 weeks after laser surgery for it to stop hurting. Get help and stick with it- BF can be very challenging but it’s completely worth the effort. Get a red bulb for the lamp where you nurse at night- it won’t wake anyone up with daylight spectrum. Coconut oil for everything- nipples, diapering. The book Sweet Sleep published recently by le leche league. Lastly- nettle tea is amazing for (everything) your adrenals and whole being when you’re still only getting small bits of sleep at a time and need a daily boost.

    • Thank you for all this helpful advice, Erin! Especially from someone who’s so fresh in the trenches and who is likeminded with us in coconut oil love, it’s good to hear. Noting it all!

  11. Shanna. My heart is swollen with happiness for you & Tim. So full and grateful because you both deserve this amazing gift! Merry merry christmas and a most beautiful 2015 to you!

    Sending lots of love from Buenos Aires.

    • You are very kind, as always, F, and we are grateful for you and this, neither of which we deserve. Merry Christmas back at you!

  12. Beautiful. I love the way you shared your happy news. And that little heartbeat – you’ll probably cry every time you hear it – I do. Many congrats!

    • So amazing and hard to comprehend, that there’s a little heart in there. Our bodies are wonderfully made for sure. Thanks, friend — and to you, too! : )

  13. Congratulations to you both! What a precious gift you have been given. The universe has a way of bringing love, and expanding our hearts when it knows we are ready to grow and receive the next adventure. This little one will be born into such a circle of love and caring. What wonderful Christmas news. Blessings and love to your family and the little one who is already so loved.

  14. Congratulations! I am so happy for you and Tim. May you have a very blessed and merry Christmas, and thank you for everything you have done this past year- I love to read your blog.

    • Allison, This was such a nice comment. Thank you. I’m so glad you enjoy coming here and I’m thankful you said so. Merry Christmas to you, too!

  15. My heart swelled at the site of your bump in that picture! I am so excited for you and Tim, for the way the Lord has worked this perfect gift and time for you. I see a babyfood cookbook in your future. Just saying…now that your a professional and all. 😉

  16. This is the most wonderful news, Shanna and Tim!! Made my day. A warm and joyous holiday season to you two — 2015 is going to be a good one. xo

  17. Congratulations! What a sweet gift from an even sweeter Giver! Figuring out this motherhood thing for me is every day totally humbling but so so delightful! It certainly keeps me dependent on Him. 🙂 I love your blog and can’t wait to read your posts on mothering.

  18. Oh HOORAY Shanna and Tim!!!! I’ve been traveling and am only just seeing this post, but I’ve thought of you two since you shared your difficult news last year, and have been looking forward to hearing that you were expecting! It’s a crazy amazing ride you have in store over the next year and so much fun. Warmest wishes for a very happy new year.

  19. I know I am so, so, so late at saying it here but CONGRATULATIONS!! I was so thrilled when I saw your instagram picture of your adorable little bump and I just know that the humility and grace that you and Tim have shown time and time again will make you such wonderful parents.

  20. Congratulations Shanna! I am so happy for you and glad I picked this time to get back to reading your blog. 🙂 I just completed my own crazy soul searching journey into parenthood when we adopted our son, Calvin, last summer. Happy Holidays!!!

  21. How did I miss this?! I am over-the-moon happy for you. June! That’s like two days away, isn’t it? 🙂 I’ve been having back to back bad news lately but I never forget that there are people, right now who are experiencing a lot worse and others who are revelling in wonderful news just like this. We are all so blessed even though we sometimes fail to see it. You deserve this joy.

    • Aw, thanks, Edlyn! I agree with your thoughts about how big the world is and how much is happening at every moment. It’s almost overwhelming to realize that when we’re grieving, someone’s celebrating or that when we’re announcing good news, someone else is bummed about the bad kind. It is both comforting and grievous. But what I like is realizing how big the world is and how small we are. That is something my soul needs to think about.


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