1/4 cup warm water (about 100 degrees)
1/3 cup milk
1 (1/4th oz) package dry active yeast
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp butter, softened
1 tsp salt
zest of 1 lemon
2 heaping cups flour
additional softened butter for rolling buns (I just wanted to type "rolling buns")
1/2 cup sugar + 1.5 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup powdered sugar + 2 tsp milk for glaze
Combine the yeast, warm water and a tiny pinch of sugar in a small bowl and let sit for five minutes till it gets foamy and bubbly.
Meanwhile, scald the milk over low heat (just heat until small bubbles appear all around the sides of the pot then take off heat). Add the butter, salt and sugar and stir until everything is melted and combined. Cool to lukewarm temperature then stir in yeast.
In the bowl of a KitchenAid (or just a regular mixing bowl), add the flour and lemon zest. Pour in the wet ingredients followed by the egg and mix on high for six minutes until soft and elastic dough forms. You can also totally do this by hand!
Spray a little cooking spray on your dough ball, cover the bowl with a clean dishcloth and place bowl in a warm area for 1 1/2 hours until dough has doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Roll out dough into a large rectangle on a lightly floured surface. Smear softened butter all over the surface of the dough and sprinkle cinnamon sugar generously over butter. Roll dough up then slice into 1" rolls.
Arrange rolls into a christmas tree shape on a lined baking sheet, using two rolls as the trunk. Cover with dishcloth again and let rise for another 45 minutes.
Bake rolls for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.
Let cool then ice with powdered sugar icing.
**You could also "decorate" your tree with raisins, candied nuts or other candied fruit... go buck wild---it's Christmas!