Giant Apple Cinnamon Roll

This is the result of Sunday's craving for a combination of apples, cinnamon and fluffy yeasted bread. 

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I woke up last Sunday knowing I wanted to make something of that combination but the options were endless. And off went my brain. Should it be another kuchen? Or should I do this bakealong with King Arthur Flour? Should it be a loaf? A braid? A round? Should I attempt kouign-amann (someday, soon)? Apples sliced or diced? (tbh, I didn't do the KAF version because it looked a little dry and I didn't find myself with potato flour or instant mashed potatoes on hand.)

Finally, I forced myself to decide because if I didn't, I wouldn't have enough time to photograph and go to Hapkido (both are very important things). And this is how this beautiful roll came about. And why waver from something both simple and easy if you know it works? So I went back to this kuchen dough from last week. 

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Let me say, I thought the plfaumenkuchen was amazing. But this was way, way better. I think I did something different with the dough. I realized halfway through adding the flour that I was adding by the one-third cup rather than the half cup so the end result of the dough was soft and squishy, rather than firm and more dense. Although I took a bread hiatus over the summer and do feel a little rusty, I think you can tell whether or not you have added too much flour when kneading your bread. I remember one of the first times I made bread, I was so frustrated that my dough was sticky. But that dough resulted in one of the moistest breads of my first bread-making days. And this dough also had that similar warming effect when you take a bite and know you have made it just right.

For the filling, you want to cook the apples down until they are soft and the juices are released so that the interior of the cinnamon roll does not get soggy. No soggy bread is allowed. Ever. Unless you are doing it on purpose like making a panade. To get this cinnamon roll effect, I made two long ropes rolled with the apple filling and spiraled them around each other. Attempting to figure out if the bread was done was tricky but I went with my gut and a thermometer and pulled it out just as it was done being baked. It could have used a few more minutes but thankfully it was so wonderfully soft and moist inside. 

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And what is a cinnamon roll without cream cheese frosting? I was honestly just using up stuff in my fridge or else it would have just been powdered sugar and lemon juice. The first round of cream cheese frosting I made was way too sweet and oddly lumpy. I had just used cream cheese, powdered sugar and milk. So I tried again, adding some lemon zest, lemon juice instead of the milk and sifted in the powdered sugar. The end result was just what I was looking for. Drizzled over this giant roll (I am a pro at making messes so I did this in the sink), I have to say that this bread is impressive and satisfies any apple, cinnamon, yeasted bread craving you are having. I would definitely take this over a apple fritter. Actually maybe any other apple cinnamon baked good. 

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And if you are wondering, I did get the lens that has been on my wishlist forever. This is the first post shooting with it. So, so nice. Hello, f2.8.


Giant Apple Cinnamon Roll

Yields: one 9-inch round cinnamon roll

Ingredients

Dough

  • ½ cup milk

  • ¼ cup sugar

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • ¼ cup butter

  • 2 tablespoons warm water

  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast

  • 1 egg

  • 2 cups of flour plus more for kneading.

Apple Filling

  • 2 tablespoons butter

  • 2 medium Granny Smith Apples cubed into ¼-inch dice

  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger

  • ¼ teaspoon allspice powder

  • ¼ teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg

  • 1 teaspoon lemon rind

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

  • ⅓ cup cream cheese, softened

  • ¼ cup powdered sugar, sifted

  • 1 teaspoon lemon rind

  • 4 teaspoons lemon juice

Steps

Bring milk to a simmer with sugar, salt and butter. Do not boil. Cool to lukewarm. To proof yeast, place water in a large, warm bowl. Sprinkle in yeast and stir until dissolved. Let sit for 5-10 minutes until foamy. Stir in milk mixture making sure it has cooled to lukewarm and then add in the egg and half the flour. Beat with a wooden spoon until the mixture is very smooth. Keep adding flour until dough is somewhat stiff and tacky. Remove from the bowl and knead by hand adding a little bit of flour until the dough is cohesive, smooth and sticks together but not on your hands. This should take about 10 minutes. 

Let the dough proof in a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap and then a warm, damp towel. You can let it proof overnight or in a warm, draft-free place for about two hours or until doubled in size. 

In the meantime, start prepping the apple filling. In a large skillet on medium heat, melt the butter. Add the apples, brown sugar, spices and lemon rind and continue to stir until the apples are soft and cooked through. Set aside to cool completely.

Butter or spray a 9-inch cake pan and set aside. 

Once the dough has proofed, knock down the dough and knead 10 times to release any other air bubbles. Cut the dough in half. Cover one half loosely with plastic wrap and set aside. With the other half, roll into a long rope, approximately 18-inches long. Flatten the rope and with a rolling pin, thin out the dough so it is about 4-inches tall and as long as you can get it. For me, this was about 24ish inches. Place half of the filling in a neat row along the long edge closest to you. Begin rolling the dough back into a rope making sure to keep the filling from spilling out. Pinch the edges and ends to seal. In the cake pan, coil the filled dough in a spiral. Prepare the second half of dough same as the first but this time, continue the spiral until you have formed a giant cinnamon roll. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and a damp towel and set aside to proof again for another 45 minutes. 

Bake in a 350ºF oven for 40-45 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the inside is cooked through. This is a little tricky to tell so I used a thermometer to measure to ~160ºF or until it came out clean.

Let cool. To prepare the frosting, whip the cream cheese, slowly incorporate the sifted powdered sugar and the lemon rind. 1 teaspoon at a time, add the lemon juice. I liked a consistency that was drizzable but if you are partial to one that is spreadable, add less lemon juice. Drizzle onto the cinnamon roll (putting the cake pan in a sink helps with the mess) and consume immediately.