A coworker recently dumped a big bag of Granny Smith apples into my hands after her weekend outing to a local orchard. While I knew I just had to bake a pie (when life hands you apples, what else would you do?), I also wanted to make something slightly less traditional and a little more unpredictable.
This cinnamon roll recipe caught my eye months ago, sometime over the summer when I was flipping through cookbooks looking at different quick bread recipes. Since 95° weather didn’t exactly make me crave warm breakfast foods, I mentally filed it away for fall.
And what better pairing than apples and cinnamon? I already coupled them together in cupcakes and frosting, but apples and cinnamon I could eat for breakfast and dessert sounded even better! So I floured my hands, rolled up the dough, and baked a fresh batch of apple cinnamon rolls. (And immediately ate 2… Shh, don’t tell!)
Apple Cinnamon Rolls
adapted from “The Best Light Recipe”
While best served fresh out of the oven, microwaving these for a few seconds works in a pinch for leftovers—if there are any!
⅓ c. dark brown sugar
⅓ c. white sugar
2 tbsp ground cinnamon
⅛ tsp ground cloves
⅛ tsp salt
1 green apple, peeled and shredded in a food processor
3 c. flour
2 tbsp white sugar
1¼ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1¼ c. milk
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp cream cheese, softened
2 tbsp milk
¾ c. powdered sugar, sifted
- Preheat the oven to 425°. Lightly coat an 8×8” baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
- To prepare the filling, combine the brown sugar through salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- To prepare the dough, whisk together the flour through salt in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, stir together the milk, vegetable oil, and vanilla. Pour into the flour mixture and stir until everything is incorporated.
- Turn the dough out onto a very well-floured surface. Flour your hands, and kneed the dough until it is no longer gooey. Pat it into a 9×12” rectangle, and lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray. (Or brush with 1 tbsp melted butter.)
- Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar on top of the dough, leaving a ½” border on all sides. Press it down firmly into the dough. Sprinkle the grated apple evenly over the top, and press it down into the sugar.
- Using a metal spatula (or improvise with a chef’s knife!), scrape underneath the dough, starting from the long side, and roll up into a tight log. Cut into 9 equal sections using dental floss. (Move the floss under the log, cross the ends over the top, and pull.) Place the rolls, 3 by 3, into the prepared pan, and cover with tin foil.
- Bake at 425° for 12 min, then remove the foil—reserve it!—and bake for another 12-14 min until the tops are golden brown. Cool in the pan for 3 min. Gently loosen the rolls from the sides of the pan with a metal spatula. Put a plate over the top, and invert the rolls onto the plate. Place a greased wire rack over the bottoms of the cinnamon rolls, and invert onto the rack. (The cinnamon rolls should be right side up now!)
- Place the reserved tin foil underneath the wire rack. Let the rolls cool for 5 min.
- While they cool, whisk together the milk and cream cheese. It should look somewhat like cottage cheese. Stir in the powdered sugar, and pour over the tops of the cinnamon rolls. Serve immediately.