10.15.20 Apple Cinnamon Rolls

I LOVE cinnamon rolls. They were always a big part of my childhood, we always had the ones in the can with the really alarming pop whenever you finally bust it open. It was a tradition on Christmas morning, anytime I spent the night at my grandmothers, and any other time we wanted an extra special breakfast on the weekends. With the soft doughy roll, the sweet, gooey filling, the wonderful texture of the very center of the roll, it’s basically perfection.

So, naturally, I attempted to make perfection even better by adding sweet apples and crunchy walnuts into the mix and I’m a little obsessed. These rolls are so easy to make, if you’ve got just a bit of time. And these freeze wonderfully! I froze some after they baked and cooled and after a quick defrost of 1-2 mins in the microwave it’s as fresh as the day I baked them. It’s basically like always having a bit of happiness tucked away in the freezer and I’m here for it.

Here’s the recipe! The dough is based on Molly Yeh’s Orange Juice Challah recipe (it’s a fantastic one, definitely make it if you’re interested!) I used apple cider in this recipe, but I’ve included alternatives because not everyone has some on hand and I don’t want you to have to buy some just for this recipe. But if you’ve got some, use it, then eat the rolls with a nice steaming (or cold!) mug of cider.

Apple Cinnamon Rolls


the dough

  • 1 tsp yeast (1/2 a packet)
  • 1/2 C water, warm
  • 1/4 C apple cider (or apple juice, or additional water)
  • 3 1/4 C flour
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 C veg oil
  • 1 egg

the filling

  • 1/2 C brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 apples
  • 1/2 C walnuts

the icing

  • 1 C powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • pinch of salt
  • 2-3 tbsp apple cider (or milk)

How to do it

  1. make the dough: in a small bowl, combine the yeast, water, and apple cider. set aside and allow to start to bubble
  2. in the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour, brown sugar, and salt. add the oil, egg, and yeast mixture. mix with the dough hook attachment for 7-10 minutes. add more flour, a tablespoon at a time, as needed – the dough should stick to the bottom of the bowl as it mixes, but not to the sides. it’s done with the dough is soft, smooth, and you can stretch it thinly enough to see light coming through (the windowpane test!)
  3. place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover, and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 1.5 hours
  4. make the filling: combine the sugar and spices in a small bowl. peel, core, and chop the apples into small cubes. roughly chop the walnuts. set aside
  5. assemble the rolls: prepare a 13×9 pan with butter or baking spray. set aside
  6. once the dough has doubled in size, use a rolling pin or wine bottle to roll it out on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle that’s about 15×12. top with the cinnamon sugar mixture, then sprinkle the apples and walnuts on top, making sure they’re evenly disbursed
  7. from the long end, roll the dough up into a log. carefully slice with a bread knife into ~1.5 inch pieces. place into the prepared pan. cover and let rise for 30 minutes until puffy. preheat the oven to 375*
  8. once the rolls are puffy, bake for 20-25 minutes until they’ve reached an internal temp of 190*
  9. make the icing: combine all icing ingredients, adding the apple cider (or milk) a bit at a time until you get the consistency you’d like
  10. serve the rolls topped with the icing and enjoy!

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