We make a LOT of cinnamon rolls during the winter months and especially over the holidays. We give them as gifts to our friends and enjoy eating them ourselves on the weekend as a special treat. There’s something about having a freshly baked cinnamon roll for breakfast that can make the coldest morning feel warmer and more promising. Mom’s Famous Cinnamon Rolls are a staple, but this weekend I had some apples that I needed to use up, so I took our beloved rolls a step further.
The dough starts off in the usual way with lots of butter, sugar and cinnamon (these are cinnamon rolls after all) and then incorporates some extra ingredients like lemon zest, nutmeg, buttermilk and Hodgson Mill Whole Wheat Flour. Then sliced apples are slowly caramelized in more butter, sugar and cinnamon and are wrapped into the dough with even more cinnamon and sugar. Mouth watering yet? To take these rolls over the top, they’re frosted with a creamy, salted-caramel glaze that will make you weak in the knees after one taste. Altogether, these cinnamon rolls are reminiscent of caramel apples in a warm, gooey cinnamon roll form. Withering apples never tasted so good!
To start things off, gather your Hodgson Mill Whole Wheat Flour, Hodgson Mill Best for Bread Flour, Hodgson Mill Fast Rise Yeast and some apples. Don’t miss this opportunity to work some whole grains into your breakfast – the whole wheat balances out the sweet apple filling and caramel glaze perfectly.
Next, beat the butter, sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl until it’s smooth and creamy. Mix in the egg and lemon zest until they’re well incorporated.
Scrape the butter mixture into the pan of a bread machine and add the flours, yeast and buttermilk. Begin the dough cycle. Be sure to keep an eye on the dough as it kneads for the first 5 to 10 minutes to make sure it’s not too sticky. It’ll be soft and supple, but shouldn’t stick to the sides of the pan or to your fingers when pressed. You may need to add more flour or buttermilk to achieve this texture.
If you don’t have a bread machine, mix the flours, yeast and buttermilk into the butter mixture by hand or with a dough hook until it’s well kneaded. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm spot for about 2 hours or until doubled in size.
This is what my dough looked like before it began to rise. Lovely.
While the dough is rising, slice three medium-sized apples into ¼ inch slices.
Melt the butter in a large skillet and add the apples, sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.
Sauté the apples until they’re caramelized – about 15 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Set aside to cool.
Spray the top of a work surface lightly with non-stick cooking spray and roll out the dough into an 18×14 inch rectangle. Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and sprinkle over the top of the rolled dough.
Scatter the caramelized apples over the top of the cinnamon sugar.
Starting with the far, wide end of the dough, roll up the dough toward you into a long log. Pinch the seam shut and with the seam side down, slice into approximately 14 rolls.
Transfer the rolls to a lined baking sheet and place them about 1 ½ inches apart. Cover the rolls loosely with plastic wrap that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray and let rise in a warm spot until they’ve nearly doubled in size – about two hours. Or, cover the rolls and put them in the refrigerator to rise slowly over night or up to two days in advance.
I made my rolls the night before I wanted to serve them and it took about 3 hours out of the refrigerator for them to rise enough. I sped things up by putting the pan of covered rolls in my slightly warm oven (turn on the oven to 350º F and then turn it off after about 2 minutes). This is what they looked like right before I put them in the oven to bake.
Bake the rolls in a 350º F oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.
While the rolls are baking, whisk together the cream cheese, butter, salted caramel sauce, milk, vanilla and powdered sugar. Yum, yum, yum!
When the rolls have baked, allow them to cool on the sheet for about 5 minutes before glazing. Drizzle the salted-caramel glaze over the top of the warm rolls and allow them to cool for about 10 minutes before serving.
My family has declared these Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls the best way I’ve used up apples in a long time – especially for breakfast. The sweet, whole wheat dough is just right for wrapping up the caramelized apples and you can’t go wrong with the salted-caramel glaze. This new version of cinnamon rolls has definitely earned its place at our table and will most likely make the rounds as a gift to some of our special friends and neighbors this holiday season. Whether or not you’re looking for an outlet for apples or just want a delicious new breakfast treat, give these Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls a try. My kids have already put apples on our grocery list. Enjoy!
Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls
- 1 ½ Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 large apples (I used Jonathan apples)
- ¼ cup sugar
- ½ teaspoon Hodgson Mill Cornstarch
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Pinch of ground nutmeg
- Pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 Tablespoons sugar
- ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 4 ounces cream cheese – room temperature
- 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter – room temperature
- 3 Tablespoons salted-caramel sauce or regular caramel sauce
- 1 Tablespoon milk
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup powdered sugar
Cream together the sugar, salt and butter in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Mix in the egg and lemon zest until well incorporated. Scoop this mixture into the pan of a bread machine. Add the flours, yeast and buttermilk and start the dough cycle. Keep an eye on the dough as it’s being kneaded to make sure that it’s not too sticky. The dough will be soft, but shouldn’t stick to the sides of the pan or to your fingers when pressed. Add additional flour or buttermilk if necessary to achieve the right texture. If you don’t have a bread machine, add the flours, yeast and buttermilk to the bowl of butter mixture and either mix by hand with a spoon or use a dough hook to knead the dough until it comes together into a soft dough. Complete the dough cycle for the machine or cover the bowl and allow the dough to rise until it’s doubled in size – about 2 hours.
While the dough is rising, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the apples, sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Sauté the mixture until the apples are caramelized – about 15 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Set aside to cool.
Mix together the cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl and set aside.
When the dough is ready, roll it out into an 18x14 inch rectangle on a work surface that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture over the top of the dough. Then scatter the caramelized apples over the cinnamon sugar on top of the dough. Starting from the far, wide end of the dough, roll up the dough toward you and into a log. Pinch the seam shut and place the log seam side down. Slice the log into approximately 14 rolls. Transfer the sliced rolls onto a lined baking sheet, placing them about 1 ½ inches apart. Cover the rolls loosely with plastic wrap that has been lightly sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Let the rolls rise at room temperature for two hours or until nearly doubled in size. Or put the covered rolls in the refrigerator to rise over night or up to two days in advance. Allow refrigerated rolls to come to room temperature and continue rising for about 3 hours until they have risen enough – placing them, still covered, in a warm oven is helpful (turn on to 350º F for two minutes and then turn off). Bake in a 350º F oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool for five minutes and then frost with salted-caramel glaze. Allow rolls to cool for 10 minutes before serving.
To make glaze, whisk together the cream cheese, butter, caramel sauce, milk, vanilla and powdered sugar in a small bowl.
Makes approximately 14 rolls.
Adapted from Annie’s Eats