In case you were wondering, I survived. I mentioned last week that we were dropping our oldest daughter (Luca) off at camp and the anxiety build-up was too much. But to be honest, it wasn’t as hard as I was anticipating. Due to Covid, I thought we were going to have to just drop her at the front gate with a quick hug and a sad good-bye. Fortunately, we were able to go inside the gates and see the beautiful campground, meet the counselors and give her a proper send-off. It made me feel loads better.
I was actually wishing I could stay at camp! They have an arts and crafts room, ping pong tables, tennis courts, cooking classes, photography classes (for the older kids), language classes and a beautiful campus at the Château d’Emines in Belgium. She’s going to have so much fun. I think the hardest part of being a parent is that tug-of-war your insides go through when you’re happy for your kids and proud of the little adults they are becoming, but sad that the time is slipping by and their independence is taking them away from you little by little. ?
Anyway, Luca requested cinnamon rolls for her last breakfast before heading off to camp for a week. I’ve been wanting to experiment with the cinnamon roll recipe that I’ve been using for years, so this was my perfect opportunity. And since apples are darn near the only fruit that Luca likes, I figured it would be safe to add them to the cinnamon rolls. She loved them so much that she asked me to make them this way from now on!
I wanted to add a coffee cream cheese frosting, but Luca HATES coffee. So I opted for a cinnamon cream cheese frosting. The coffee will be for another day. ?
These start with our recipe for the BEST cinnamon rolls and then I fill it with a different filling and adapted the frosting. They are really so divine, you can’t possibly understand unless you make them yourself.
I like to use Korintje cinnamon in my cinnamon rolls. It’s a cinnamon from Indonesia that has a very strong but smooth taste. I buy most of my spices, including Korintje Cinnamon, from Penzey’s Spices. I promise you will notice a difference!
Heat the whole milk to the right temperature. Between 105°F and 110°F is the sweet spot. Lower than that and the yeast will remain dormant. Higher than that and it could “kill” the yeast.
After adding the active dry yeast to the warm milk, add the sugar. Yeast feeds on sugar so this speeds up the activation process. I also add a little of the flour at that step because it makes it easier to tell if your yeast is working. Just give it a little stir and let it set for 10-30 minutes. You should see bubbles forming at the surface. If you don’t, your yeast is bad and you’ll need to throw it out and start over with new yeast.
Once you see the bubbles, you’re ready to rock and roll! Using your stand mixer with the dough hook, start mixing the yeast mixture at low speed. Slowly pour in the melted butter (make sure it’s not scorching hot), the egg and yolk, the salt and remaining flour.
Use the dough hook to knead the dough for about 5 minutes. Don’t rush this step! All doughs need to be kneaded to form gluten. Then, after this step, the dough needs to rest. If you tried rolling it out at this step, it would be like trying to roll out a rubberband. Relaxing the dough reduces the elasticity, making it possible to roll and stretch.
The relaxation process should be nice and warm and cozy for the dough. Think of this as a spa day for your cinnamon roll dough. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover it with a dry towel, and place it in a warm, dry area. Your kitchen on a regular day should be fine. However, if your kitchen tends to be on the cooler side, I have a trick for you! Turn the oven on 350° for 5 minutes. Turn the oven off and set the bowl on top of the stove. If you have a wall oven, do the same thing and then set the bowl on a table or counter closest to the oven.
Can I make the rolls ahead of time?
Yes! I actually make these the night before all the time and they taste just as fresh as making them the morning of. Once the rolls have been cut and placed in the baking dish/pan, just cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight. Remove from the refrigerator while the oven is preheating. If the rolls are still cold when you put them in the oven, you may need to bake a couple of minutes longer than you normally would.
ROLLING OUT THE DOUGH
I like my cinnamon rolls to be gooey and chewy, so I roll the dough to about 1/4 inch thick. If you like them soft and fluffy, you can roll to 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick.
To prepare the filling, spread the melted cinnamon sugar butter over the dough. I use a mini offset spatula like this one to spread so that I don’t rip the dough. Cook the apple filling just until the apples get tender (don’t let them turn mushy). Place them evenly over the cinnamon butter filling.
Starting at the long end closest to you, tightly roll the dough until you reach the other side. Gently pinch the seems together and tuck under. Using nylon fishing line, slide the line under the dough, pull both ends up and across in opposite directions, causing the fishing line to slice through the dough. You should get 9 cinnamon rolls. Alternately, you can use unwaxed dental floss or a sharply serrated knife.
Place rolls on a parchment lined baking sheet or in a 9×9 square pan.
BUNS IN THE OVEN
They do not need to rise again after slicing. Place them into a preheated 375° oven and bake for 16-20 minutes depending on your preference. As I said before, I like ooey gooey rolls so I pull them out after 16 minutes so they’re a little under baked in the center.
If you refrigerated the rolls overnight, take the rolls out when you start the oven. They will need to bake for about 2-3 minutes longer than if they weren’t refrigerated.
FROSTING THE CINNAMON ROLLS
While the cinnamon rolls are in the oven, make the cream cheese frosting. Place the softened butter and cream cheese into the bowl of a stand mixer, or you can use a hand mixer. Beat on medium speed until completely smooth and creamy. Add the powdered sugar and mix on low until combined. Then turn the mixer up to high speed and mix for 3-4 minutes until smooth and no lumps remain. Add the cinnamon and mix for another 30 seconds until combined.
Using an offset spatula, spread the frosting onto the top of the rolls while still warm. I usually let the rolls cool for about 3-5 minutes before frosting. Let the frosting melt down into the cracks. Let them set for a few more minutes and then add additional frosting.
Apple Cinnamon RollsCourse: Breakfast, DessertDifficulty: Medium
Active Dry Yeast 1 3/4 tsp
Whole Milk 180g
Unsalted Butter, melted and cooled 57g
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk
Salt 3/4 tsp
All Purpose Flour 450g
- In the microwave, heat the milk to 105°-110°
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, add yeast, warmed milk, sugar and 75g (1/2 cup) of flour. Stir slightly and set aside, covered with a dry towel. Let rest for 10-30 minutes until mixture is bubbly.
- Put the bowl on the mixer and using the dough hook, begin mixing on low speed. Add melted butter, eggs and salt.
- Add flour. Once the dough comes together, turn up to medium speed and mix for 5 minutes.
- Put the dough into an oiled bowl and cover with a dry towel. Keep in a warm, dry environment (see notes above in post). Let rest for an hour until it doubles in size.
- Preheat oven to 375°. Line a baking sheet or square baking pan with parchment paper.
- Roll out dough into a rectangle 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick.
- Spread cinnamon filling and apple cinnamons over dough (recipes follow) leaving an inch on all sides.
- Starting with the long end closest to you, roll the dough tightly. Pinch the end seem and tuck under.
- Using nylon fishing line, or unscented dental floss, cut the dough into 9 equal rolls. Place onto prepared pan. Bake for 16-20 minutes, or until the center of the rolls is baked through.
- Cool for 3-5 minutes and top with cinnamon cream cheese frosting (recipe follows).
cinnamon filling Directions
- In a microwave safe bowl, add 57g (1/4 cup) butter, 150g (3/4) cup brown sugar, 1 Tbsp flour and 2 Tbsp cinnamon. Microwave until butter is melted. Stir until completely combined.
- Spread evenly over the dough.
apple cinnamon Directions
- Cut 2 medium Granny Smith apples into 1/4″ thick slices and then again into 1″ pieces.
- In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, add apples, 1 Tbsp butter, 1 tsp cinnamon, 2 Tbsp sugar and 1 Tbsp cornstarch. Mix until apples are soft but not mushy.
- The sauce should not be thin or watery. If it is, drain before using.
- Cool for 10 minutes and then spread evenly over the cinnamon filling.
- Proceed to step 9 above.
cinnamon cream cheese frosting Directions
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, or with a hand mixer, add 113g (1/2 cup) softened butter and 4 oz. softened cream cheese. Beat on high speed until smooth.
- Add 125g powdered sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp cinnamon. Beat on high speed until smooth and creamy.
- Use a mini offset spatula to spread most of the frosting over warm cinnamon rolls. Let the rolls cool for another 5 minutes and add the rest of the frosting or serve on the side.