Long time coming

This is what every fall weekend should look like. If I hadn't been treated to high tea this morning, it's what I would've wished for.

I first made these in a toaster oven in Paris last September. I photographed them, ate them and immediately got to work on a blog post—which promptly gathered dust in my draft folder until this September. That's when I made them again (this time in a real oven in Vancouver), photographed them, ate them and immediately got to work on a new blog post—which promptly gathered dust in my draft folder. Are you seeing a trend here?

So we're at a critical turning point right now where I can either try for a three-peat or share the dang recipe already. I think it's high time. Let's do this.

Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls

Yeast Dough:
1 cup milk
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 package active dry yeast
2 1/4 cups flour
1/4 heaping teaspoon baking powder
1/4 scant teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt 

Apple Filling:
0.9 kg (2 lbs) Granny Smith apples, peeled & diced (about 5 or 6)
3 tablespoons salted butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup water

Caramel Frosting:
6 tablespoons salted butter
6 tablespoons  brown sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 cups icing sugar

To prepare the dough, combine the milk, oil and sugar in a large sauce pan. Scald the mixture by bringing it almost to the boiling point over medium heat (small bubbles will begin to appear around the edges). Turn off the burner, leave the pot where it is, and wait patiently for 30-45 minutes.

Once the mixture has cooled from finger-burning to very warm, sprinkle the yeast on the surface. Let the mixture stand for 5 minutes or until the yeast activates and begins to foam. Now stir in 2 cups of flour with a wooden spoon. Cover the mixture with a lid and let rise for 1 hour. Your pot is still on that burner from way back when.

One hour later, remove the lid and take a sniff and a peek at your new dough. Gently stir in the remaining 1/4 cup of flour along with the baking powder, baking soda and salt.

At this point, you can either continue on and make the cinnamon rolls or punch down the dough and store it in the fridge, covered, for up to 2 days. Keep your eye on the dough and make sure it doesn't spill out of its container!

When you're ready to go, line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set them aside.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a rectangle measuring 50 cm x 30 cm (20 in x 12 in). Spread the cooled apple mixture evenly on top, leaving a thin border around the perimeter. Beginning at the short end, roll the dough into a 30 cm log, pinching the seam closed to seal in the apple goodness. 

Using a sharp knife, cut the log into 12 slices of equal width. Place each slice swirl-side up on a parchment-lined sheet, aiming for 6 per sheet. Cover each sheet loosely with a tea towel and leave them in a warm spot until the cinnamon rolls have roughly doubled in size (about 40 minutes).

As the 40-minute mark nears, preheat your oven to 190 degrees Celsius (375 degrees Fahrenheit). Bake each sheet of rolls for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown, rotating the pans halfway through.

While the cinnamon rolls are baking, get started on the caramel frosting. Melt the butter and brown sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture begins to bubble. Remove from heat. Add the vanilla and milk in a steady stream, stirring constantly. Add the icing sugar and beat until smooth.

Let the cinnamon rolls cool on the pans for 10 minutes before drizzling the caramel frosting on top. Best served the day they're made.

Yields 12 cinnamon rolls.

Sources: The dough is borrowed from The Pioneer Woman's Cinnamon Rolls 101, the apple filling comes from these bourbon apple tarts and the caramel frosting is a thinned-out version of the one that tops this banana cake.

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