I woke up at 7:30am yesterday needing apple pie. This wasn’t just a craving–I needed it. Quickly. And for all the great things that can be said about pie, its speed of preparation is not one of them. My first thoughts were putting apples in oatmeal, or making an apple compote to go over yogurt. And while both of those are great options, they just sounded too…healthy. So instead, I stuffed all the flavors of apple pie into cinnamon rolls and ate two before 10:30am. It was the right thing to do.
These rolls are just…so good. The dough is soft and sweet, with a little extra chew and puff from the addition of bread flour. The filling is full of soft apples, dark brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg. And the glaze. Oh, the glaze! It’s made with fresh pressed apple cider and touch of heavy cream to bring these rolls over the top. The very best part? They can be on your table in two and a half hours or less without too much effort. The recipe is long, but there is very little active prep time. Perfect for a lazy autumn weekend breakfast. Or, if you’re me, an autumn Thursday morning breakfast.
Let’s start with the simple yeast dough. Yes, I used “simple” and “yeast” in the same sentence. Yes, I did it on purpose. Yeast can be intimidating–I was too afraid to try working with it until three years ago when I watched my boyfriend fearlessly make fantastic pizza dough. After that, I decided to be brave and make some myself, and you know what? Yeast is nothing to be afraid of. It’s just another leavener, like baking soda or baking powder. For this recipe, we use instant yeast, which is even easier to use than regular active dry yeast. To make the dough, you just stir together all purpose flour, bread flour, sugar, salt, and one packet of instant yeast. You warm milk, water, and butter just until it is hot to the touch, and then stir that and an egg into the flour mixture, adding a little more flour to achieve a soft, smooth dough. Knead it all for five minutes or so, then let the dough rest for a few minutes. This is only a rest–because we are using instant yeast, this dough only needs one rise! While it’s resting, make the filling.
To get the soft-but-not-gummy texture of good apple pie filling, sauté apples in butter for twenty minutes. While those are cooling a bit, stir dark brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and a little salt into softened butter. Then roll out your dough, spread on the butter, and sprinkle it all with the soft apples. Then all you have to do is roll up the dough, slice it, and place it in a pie plate to rise for 60-90 minutes, until the rolls have doubled in size.
Take a break. You just made scratch cinnamon rolls–you deserve a break. Make yourself some coffee, read the paper, stalk your friends on Facebook. When the rising time is up, put the rolls in a 375F oven for 30 minutes while you make the glaze.
The glaze is super easy and totally amazing. Just stir together apple cider, heavy cream, and vanilla, then whisk in confectioner’s sugar and a pinch of salt. That’s it. Easy. You can make it as thin or thick as you like by adding more apple cider or confectioner’s sugar. When the rolls come out of the oven, pour the glaze over, put a roll (or two) on a plate and prepare for pure autumnal breakfast bliss.
These keep well for two days, covered at room temperature. The glaze may soak into the rolls, but they will still be soft, sweet, and totally decadent when you grab the last one out of the pan on your way to work on Monday. The apple flavor will even improve over time. Make these for your family and friends this weekend! And invite me over, please 😊
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
2 large apples, peeled and cut into a 1/2 inch dice*
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 1/4-1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup bread flour*
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 packet (2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast*
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup milk (I use whole milk)
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large egg, room temperature
1/4 cup apple cider
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
Start making the filling. Cut four tablespoons of butter into small cubes and set aside to soften.
Melt one tablespoon of butter in a medium sauté pan over low heat. Add in diced apples and cook, stirring frequently, until they are soft. Spread apples on a plate and set aside to cool until they are no longer hot to the touch.
Mash softened butter cubes with a fork. Stir in dark brown sugar, spices, and salt. Set aside.
Start making the dough. Set aside 1/2 cup of the all purpose flour. In a large mixing bowl, stir together 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour, bread flour, granulated sugar, salt, and yeast. In a small saucepan*, heat water, milk, and 2 1/2 tablespoons of butter over low heat until the mixture reaches 115F. Remove from heat and stir into the flour mixture. Stir in egg. Add reserved all purpose flour in 2 tablespoon increments until the dough is smooth and soft*, pulling away from the side of the bowl when stirred. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 5-6 minutes. Form dough into a ball and place in a lightly greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 10 minutes.
Grease a 9″ pie plate and set aside. Flour a surface and a rolling pin. Roll dough into an 8″x14″ rectangle. Spread softened butter mixture over the entire surface of the dough. Spread apples over the softened butter.
Starting at the long edge of the dough furthest from your body, roll the dough tightly toward yourself until you have one long tube. Using a large, sharp knife (not serrated) cut 1″ rolls. Place cut rolls in prepared pie plate. Loosely tent with foil.
Place rolls in a warm, draft-free place to rise for 60-90 minutes, until they have doubled in size.
Once the rolls have risen, preheat the oven to 375F. Bake rolls for 25-30 minutes, tenting with foil at 15 minutes if the tops are getting too brown.
Mix together the glaze. Stir together apple cider, heavy cream, and vanilla extract. Using a fork, whisk in confectioner’s sugar and salt until smooth*. Pour over warm rolls. Enjoy.
- I use one tart apple, like Granny Smith, and one sweet apple, like Honeycrisp.
- I use Fleischmann’s RapidRise Instant Yeast.
- If you do not have bread flour, all purpose flour may be substituted. Your rolls may not be as soft and chewy as if you’d used the bread flour, but they will still be delicious.
- You can also heat the milk mixture in the microwave in 20 second increments. I do not have a microwave, so I do not know how long it will take to reach 115F.
- I usually need 6 tablespoons of the reserved flour to achieve the desired consistency.
- Add more apple cider or confectioner’s sugar for a thinner or thicker glaze.