My husband’s birthday was a few days after we finally got settled into our house and at that point we’d only been to the grocery store for the staples. There were no fancy baking ingredients, not even any chocolate chips, so a birthday cake was pretty much out of the question. Lucky for me, he enjoys cinnamon rolls as much as cake especially if they include apples and caramel sauce!
Fantastic does not even begin to describe these! The dough is so soft and the apples on the inside are a nice surprise. The caramel sauce on top is what makes them though! Needless to say, the husband was pretty happy with his birthday treat.
(The recipe includes instructions for how to make the dough with a stand mixer but remember, you can do it by hand. It will just take a little longer and a lot more muscle.)
5½ tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1 tsp. lemon zest
3½ cups bread flour
2 teaspoon instant (rapid rise) yeast
1 cup plus 2-4 tablespoon whole milk or buttermilk, at room temperature
For the filling:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into Â¼-inch slices
¼ cup sugar
½ teaspoon cornstarch
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sugar
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
For the glaze:
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
3 tablespoon caramel sauce
1 tablespoon milk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup confectioners sugar
In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and butter on medium-high speed until smooth. Mix in the egg and lemon zest until incorporated. Mix in the flour, yeast and milk until a dough forms. Switch to the dough hook and knead on low speed, about 8 minutes until the dough is silky and supple, tacky but not sticky. (You may need to add a little extra flour or liquid to achieve this texture.) Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, turning once to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for about 2 hours, or until doubled in size.
Meanwhile, make the filling. To make the caramelized apples, melt the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the apple slices, sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Mix until the apples are evenly coated. Cook about 18 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Set aside to cool. In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar and cinnamon to blend; set aside.
Mist a work surface with spray oil. Roll it out into a rectangle with a rolling pin, lightly dusting the dough with flour if needed to keep it from sticking (about 12 x 14 inches for larger rolls or 9 x 18 inches for smaller rolls). Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and mix to blend. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture over the surface of the dough. Evenly distribute the caramelized apples over the top of the dough. Starting with the wide edge, roll up the dough into a cigar-shaped log, creating a cinnamon sugar spiral as you roll. Pinch the seam shut, and with the seam side down, slice the log into your desired number of rolls. Transfer them to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat, placing the rolls about Â½-1 inch apart.
Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature 75-90 minutes, until the rolls have grown into each other and have nearly doubled in size. At this point, the rolls can also be covered and retarded in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Pull the pan out of the refrigerator 3-4 hours before baking to let the dough proof.
Preheat the oven to 350F. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool in the baking about 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.
To make the glaze, cream together the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Mix in the caramel sauce, milk and vanilla extract. Add confectioners sugar until smooth. Swirl the glaze over the top of the cinnamon rolls. Let cool at least 15-20 minutes before serving.