These Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls are the perfect way to welcome in the cooler Fall temperatures!
I’ve mentioned before that my pre-food blogger life involved working in higher education. I love college sports, and I thought working in college athletics would be a lot of fun. In fact, my dissertation is about how smaller colleges use athletics as a strategic tool. When Laura and I first moved up here to New York, I was shoulder-deep in academic journal articles. I’d finished my coursework before we moved, but the dissertation still loomed in front of me. So I buckled down and cranked that sucker out.
In fact, writing the dissertation was kinda easy (well relatively speaking). We had just moved up to New York, and we didn’t know anyone. It was January, and it ended up being a record year for snow. Laura was working long days as she got into the groove of her new job. That left me snowed in at the apartment with our 2 dogs…and the neighbor who was practicing to become a DJ. (1) Who practices to be a DJ? (2) Who practices to be a DJ with wall-thumping music at 8:30am?
Neighbor annoyances aside, I was able to really get in there and finish up that dissertation. But all of the dissertating made me a little stir crazy, so I decided to start taking baking classes in the afternoon at the community college around the corner. It was a great way to break up the monotony of academic writing. I’d come home each day and practice whatever new technique we learned in class.
As you can imagine, that led to a lot of baked goods rolling out of our kitchen at home. So when we moved into our house, I started taking the leftover sweets and treats to neighbors. They certainly didn’t mind, and I appreciated the ability to bake all sorts of things at home without becoming buried in cakes, cookies and breads.
But then one day I get a really bad idea. Well, to be fair, I thought it was a really good idea. But it wasn’t good. Not at all. I decided I’d take the cinnamon roll recipe I learned from class, but I’d fill it with chopped-up leftover Halloween candy. Each bite would be different. Some Snickers. Some Milky Ways. Some Reese’s Cups. All of them thrown in together and rolled up into the dough. And I even had the brilliant idea to melt some candy corn and drizzle that on top of the rolls. The result was terrible. I’m not kidding.
And to make the problem worse, I had about 6 dozen of them. (I made the mistake of making a full-sized bakery scale recipe. Oops.) When Laura came home that afternoon, we taste-tested my creation. Oh man, it was bad. But I had already taken a bunch to the neighbors. (Sorry, Judy!) But they were all gracious, and no-one commented on the leftover Halloween candy cinnamon rolls.
I made up for that mistake the other day with this batch of Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls. I made a normal-sized batch (i.e. not 6 dozen), but a normal-sized batch was still too much for just one person. (Laura was at an overnight conference for work.) So I dropped some of these bad boys off at the neighbors’ house.
These Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls are legit. I saved myself one for dessert and one for breakfast the next morning…but I had to get the rest out of the house. Cinnamon rolls are one of those foods that just aren’t safe around me. I would’ve eaten half that batch in one sitting!
For this treat, I used my go-to cinnamon roll recipe, but I added some diced apples into the dough before I rolled it up. And then I adapted the icing recipe a bit to give it a deeper caramel flavor. These Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls are the perfect way to welcome in the cooler October temperatures! Enjoy!
Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls
For the Rolls
- 3¾ cups all-purpose flour
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 1 Tbsp active dry yeast
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2 large eggs
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
For the Filling
- ¼ cup sugar
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground nutmeg
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
- 2 medium apples peeled, cored and diced into ½” pieces
For the Frosting
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- 1 cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup whole milk
- 1½ tsp vanilla extract
- 2½ cups powdered sugar
For the Rolls
- Using a countertop mixer with the paddle attachment, add the flour, sugar, yeast and salt. Stir until well combined.
- Add eggs and milk; stir until well combined.
- Add butter to the bowl and gradually increase speed to medium. Let mix for 6-7 min, or until dough is very smooth.
- Place dough in an oiled bowl and cover with towel or plastic wrap. Place bowl in warm spot until dough has doubled in size (~1 hour).
- Fold dough several times and then let sit for 15 more minutes (covered).
- Meanwhile, using a small bowl, make the filling by whisking together sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Set aside. (Note: The butter will be used later.)
- On a well-floured countertop, roll the dough into a 12”x16” rectangle.
- Brush the dough with the melted butter. Sprinkle the surface with Filling mixture as well as diced apples, leaving a ½” border on all sides.
- Starting with one of the long edges, roll dough into a cylinder and pinch edges together to seal.
- Using a sharp knife, cut dough into 10 pieces. (Note: 10 pieces will yield very large rolls. You can cut the rolls smaller (~16 pieces), but you will need to reduce the baking time slightly.)
- Place cut rolls onto 2 greased 9”x13” baking pans leaving plenty of growing room between them.
- Cover pans lightly and leave in warm spot until approximately doubled in size. (~40 minutes).
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Bake rolls at 375°F until golden brown and puffed up (~16-18 minutes).
- While rolls are baking, make the Frosting by placing the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once melted, add brown sugar. Continue cooking over medium heat, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes.
- Remove pan from heat and milk and vanilla; stir until well combined. Add powdered sugar; stir until smooth. Set Frosting aside.
- Once rolls are fully baked, removed from oven and let cool. Spread Frosting over rolls before serving.