When I was thinking of an idea for a fall baking recipe, I spied the
Caramel Apple Butter and the Apple Butter Syrup and I knew instantly I wanted to make cinnamon rolls with them.
Cinnamon or sweet roll dough is such an easy thing to make and a great starting off point for all the variations you can think of. I have made traditional cinnamon rolls before, as well as pumpkin, pineapple and coconut ones, even raspberry filled ones. I love apple flavors more than pumpkin in the fall so I knew as soon as I saw the apple butter and syrup these had to be apple cinnamon rolls.
I added in nutmeg and cinnamon to the dough, which gave a nice subtle scent. I love how warming fall baking spices are, and adding them in to doughs and breads really ups the flavor and makes your house smell amazing when baking. I then substituted the traditional butter in the filling with the caramel apple butter, and added in thinly-sliced apple pieces. The best part really is the icing on the cake…er, rolls.
I went with a traditional cream cheese icing, but I added in cinnamon and nutmeg and a little apple cider. Fall and apple cider go hand in hand, right? I wait until the rolls are cooled completely before icing them because I like a nice portion of icing on top of the roll. If you prefer more of a glaze, spread the icing on the rolls when they are still hot out of the oven. Drizzle more of the apple butter syrup on top and enjoy with coffee.
Oh, and that apple butter syrup? Heaven. I am making apple pancakes this weekend just to have an excuse to use more of the syrup. I will probably go buy another jar of five of the caramel apple butter…and I will try not to eat it with just a spoon.
For the Filling:
1 1/2 C caramel apple butter, chilled (almost 2 jars)
1 1/2 C brown sugar
2 tbsp cinnamon
2 baking apples (Granny Smith, Fuji, or Pink Lady) peeled, cored, diced into thin 1-centimeter pieces
For the Icing:
6 oz cream cheese
4 oz butter
2-3 C powdered sugar
2 tbsp apple cider
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
Apple Butter Syrup, chilled
In a small bowl sprinkle the yeast over the warm milk. You can warm the milk in the bowl, make sure it’s the correct temperature, then add the yeast. After 1 minute, whisk together then let sit for 5 minutes.
In another bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the eggs, butter and vanilla and whisk together. Place the bowl on the mixer and attached the dough hook. Pour in the milk/yeast mixture and the flour mixture. Turn mixer to low and mix for 10 minutes until the dough has come together and is pulling away from the sides of yet bowl. The dough will be slightly sticky when pressed with a finger but not wet.
Sprinkle some flour on a clean countertop or pastry board and spread out with hand. Place the dough in the center and knead a few times, adding a little flour if too sticky. Shape in to a ball then place in a bowl that has been lightly coated with oil (olive oil or avocado oil works great) then cover with plastic wrap and a towel. Place in a warm spot. Set the oven to 85-90 °F if making during the cooler months of the year, and let rise until a little over double in size, about 90-110 minutes.
While rising, prepare the filling. Mix together the brown sugar and cinnamon. Spray two 9-inch baking pans, or one 9″x13” pan with cooking oil.
Once the dough has risen, flour the countertop again and punch the dough down once, then remove from bowl and place on counter or pastry board. Lightly dust again with flour and roll to a rectangle of even thickness about 10″ x 16”. Let rest for a minute and roll again if the dough shrinks back down at all. Brush the dough with the caramel apple butter, leaving about one-half inch of the long edge closest to you clear of butter. Or go close to the edges, then trim to make it even more rectangular before rolling. After spreading the apple butter, sprinkle the brown sugar cinnamon mixture evenly on top of the apple butter; evenly distribute the apple slices on top of that.
Starting with the long edge furthest from you, tightly roll up the dough, working along the length of it to make sure it is evenly rolling up and the filling isn’t spilling out. Roll with the seam side down all the way to the end. Squeeze the log ever so slightly to make sure it is an even thickness. Score along the top to make 16 rolls about one inch apart to make sure all the rolls are an even thickness, then cut quickly; the filling will ooze out a little. Place into the prepared pans. Scoop up any spilled filling and spread over the the tops of the rolls. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 45-60 minutes.
Once they have doubled in size, keep covered while oven is pre-heating to 350°F. Remove towel and plastic wrap and bake for 20-25 minutes until risen, starting to turn golden and bubbly. Remove from oven and let cool in pans.
Make the icing while the rolls are cooling.
Beat the butter and cream cheese until fluffy. Add in the powdered sugar one half of a cup at a time (less sugar for a thinner icing, more for thicker). Then, add in the cider, spices and vanilla, and beat again.
Run a small spatula around all of the rolls to separate them, then spread the tops generously with icing. Serve and drizzle more Apple Butter Syrup on top. Or you can omit the cream cheese icing and go with just a drizzle of the apple cider syrup. It’s fantastic warmed up then poured on top right before eating. Serve with a cup of coffee and enjoy!
Tip:If you roll out the dough to a somewhat uniform rectangle, spread the apple butter all the way to the edges. If it's a bit uneven, spread it until it is almost to the edges, then trim the excess before rolling up the dough.
For a thinner/runnier icing, glaze the rolls when warm out of the oven. For a thicker icing, wait until they have cooled completely. You can ice then wrap in plastic wrap, then fold and freeze up to one month, three months if kept in an airtight container.
You can also make these up to before raising the rolls the second time, and wrap in plastic, then an airtight bag, then freeze. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight for the second proofing, then set out covered with a towel to bring to room temperature before baking.