Apple Cinnamon Rolls
FOR THE CINNAMON ROLLS:
- 2 packages active dry yeast (4 1/2 teaspoons)
- 1 cup lukewarm water
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar (to proof the yeast)
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter or shortening
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 8 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (you might need more if the dough is sticky, up to 9-10 cups)
- 2 cups hot water
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 1 tablespoon salt
FOR THE APPLE FILLING:
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 5 large apples chopped (we like Honeycrisp or Granny Smith, you can peel them if you want)
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Softened unsalted butter, about 1/2 cup total
- Brown sugar, about 1 1/2 cups total
- Cinnamon, about 2 tablespoons total
FOR THE BROWN BUTTER CREAM CHEESE FROSTING:
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 6 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 3 tablespoons whole milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the Cinnamon Rolls: Add yeast to 1 cup of lukewarm water. Stir with a spoon and set aside for about five minutes.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, add butter or shortening, sugar, and salt to hot water and beat for 30 seconds. Let cool to lukewarm temperature. Stir in 2 cups of flour and mix until smooth. Add yeast mixture and mix until well combined. Mix in the beaten eggs.
Gradually stir in the remaining flour and mix with the dough hook for about 2 minutes. Remove dough from the bowl and place on a lightly floured counter. Knead by hand, add a little flour if the dough is still sticky. Knead until dough feels satiny and smooth.
Put the dough in a greased bowl and cover with a towel. Let rise for 30 minutes or until dough doubles in size.
For the Apple Filling: While the dough is rising, make the apple filling. In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the chopped apples, brown sugar, and nutmeg. Stir so the apples are coated in the butter and brown sugar. Cook until slightly soft, but not mushy, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
Remove dough from bowl and place on a lightly floured counter. Divide dough in half. With a rolling pin, roll one half of the dough into a rectangular shape, about 22 X 13 inches. Spread dough evenly with 4 tablespoons of softened butter. Top with half of the brown sugar. Place half of the chopped apples on top of the brown sugar dough and sprinkle with half of the cinnamon.
Gently roll up dough into one long roll. Cut rolls, using a piece of dental floss or thread, about two inches thick. Place rolls into a greased 9X13 baking pan, leaving a little space in between each roll so they have room to rise.
Now follow the exact same steps with the other half of the dough, using the remaining ingredients.
Place rolls in a warm spot and cover with a towel. Let rolls rise until double in bulk, about an hour. Bake rolls at 350 degrees F for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown on top. The insides should be soft, but not doughy. Remove pans from oven and let cool until slightly warm on a wire rack.
For the Frosting: While the cinnamon rolls are cooling, make the frosting. In a small skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Once melted, turn up the heat to medium high. Continue stirring and look for small golden bits that will start to settle on the bottom of the pan, this should take around 3 to 5 minutes and the butter will have a nutty aroma. Once this happens, take it off the heat and pour into a medium, heat-safe bowl to cool to room temperature. Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, beat together the brown butter and cream cheese until smooth. Slowly add the confectioners’ sugar and mix until combined. Add the milk and vanilla extract and mix until smooth. If you need to add a little more milk, you can.
Spread the frosting over the apple cinnamon rolls. Enjoy!
If you want to make the cinnamon rolls in advance, you can refrigerate them overnight and bake in the morning. After you put the rolls in the pans, cover with plastic wrap and put the pans in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, pull the rolls out and let them come to room temperature and rise a little. Bake and enjoy!
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