As the days get shorter and colder, cinnamon rolls/bun seem like the logical response. This rendition features caramelized apples which are wonderfully delicious! We decided not to use a glaze or icing for these buns because the dough was flavorful and fluffy enough to hold it's own.
Apple Cinnamon Rolls
For the cinnamon rolls:
6 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch ground nutmeg
5 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1 tsp. lemon zest
3 1/2 cups bread flour
2 teaspoon instant (rapid rise) yeast
1 cup plus 2-4 tablespoon whole milk or buttermilk, at room temperature
For the Cinnamon Apples:
4 cups apples, diced into very small pieces
1/2 cup scant brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon ginger, grated
4 tablespoon apple sauce
2 tablespoons cinnamon powder
a big pinch of nutmeg
Caramelized apples(see above)
5 tablespoons melted butter
Caramelizing the apples:
Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high Drop in the butter, and let it melt down, at low heat.
Drop the diced apples into the butter. With a wooden spoon, stir them around until they are completely coated with butter. Continue to stir until the the butter in the pan is no longer bubbling. Add the brown sugar, and the nutmeg. When the sugar melts and coats the apples well and starts to bubble, add the cider. Cook apples for approximately 20 minutes at the lowest heat, or until the fruit softens and browns completely. The released water from the apples and the sugar will make a thick syrup in the pan, which will slightly bubble. Add the cinnamon towards the end of the cooking process. Allow as much liquid to evaporate without burning the sugar. It will be thick sticky mix.
Remove the pan from the heat. Remove the apples from the pan and place them into a bowl.
For the dough:
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
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 ½-1 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.