Apple Cinnamon Rolls

Soft and fluffy rolls filled with cinnamon and apple compote, the perfect combination for autumn or any time of the year! Recipe with step-by-step photos.

apple cinnamon rolls with frosting in white dish

Apple Cinnamon Rolls

I love any version of a sticky bun and and these Apple Cinnamon Rolls are a delicious treat in the colder months, although I think they are a welcome sight at any time of the year. This is the same recipe as for my Cinnamon Rolls but with the addition of a chunky apple compote to give little bursts of sweetness throughout the rolls.

apple cinnamon rolls with frosting in dish with brown cloth

Apple Cinnamon Rolls Recipe

I think it is hard to improve on a Cinnamon Roll, so I have merely adapted the recipe to include a layer of chunky apple compote for that classic apple and cinnamon combination.

Many recipes for Apple Cinnamon Rolls simply add chopped fresh apples on top of the cinnamon filling. As the rolls are only baked for about 30 minutes, this is not really enough time to cook the apples fully, depending on the variety that you have used. But if you like to have the contrast of chunky bits of apple in your rolls, I think this is good technique.

But I prefer to cook the apples first so that they can soften and meld better with the soft dough. I make an apple compote which is half smooth and half chunky, so that it is easy to spread on the dough, but also so that there is still some texture when you eat the rolls. But you can make the apple compote as smooth or as chunky as you prefer.

If you like raisins, you could also sprinkle some on top of the apple compote.

How to Make Apple Cinnamon Rolls

Step 1

Measure the flour, sugar, yeast and salt into the bowl of an electric stand mixer. Lightly mix the ingredients together.

Step 2

Add the egg to the bowl. Slowly add the warm milk (you may not need all of it), and lightly beat everything with the dough hook until it comes together into a large ball of dough. Only add as much milk as you need to bring the ingredients together into a dough.

Step 3

Slowly incorporate the butter, one tablespoon at a time, until all of the butter has been used.

Then increase the speed to medium and continue kneading with the dough hook for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Step 4

Lightly oil a large mixing bowl, and place the dough into the bowl. Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and leave it somewhere warm for 1 to 1.5 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size.

Step 5

Once the dough has doubled in size, gently remove the dough from the bowl. The dough will deflate as you handle it.

Roll out the dough into a rectangle shape measuring approximately 40 x 30 cm/16 x 12 inches.

Step 6

Make the cinnamon filling by beating together the ingredients. Use a small palette knife to evenly spread the filling all over the dough.

Step 7

Then spread the apple compote on top of the cinnamon filling.

Step 8

Roll up the dough tightly from the short end.

The dough may be quite soft at this stage. If necessary, you can place the log of dough in the fridge to firm up slightly. Or you can continue with the recipe with some careful shaping of the dough slices.

Step 9

Cut the dough into 8 even pieces using a very sharp knife and by using a sawing motion to keep the layers nicely separated. Clean the knife between each slice.

Line a 25 cm/10 inch round baking pan or baking dish with baking paper.

Arrange the slices of dough in the baking pan. I sometimes find it easier to arrange the slices of dough directly on the baking paper on the kitchen bench, and then transferring the baking paper with the buns into the baking pan. This is especially if the dough has already started to puff and rise.

Step 10

Place the pan somewhere warm for about 20-30 minutes, or until the buns have risen and puffed up slightly (they will continue to puff and rise during baking).

Step 11

Preheat the oven to 200°C/390°F with a metal baking tray on the middle shelf. Bake the buns for 10 minutes

Reduce the heat to 180°C/356°F and bake for another 20 minutes, or until the buns are lightly golden. Check the buns at about 10 minutes, and if they are browning too quickly, cover them with a loose sheet of foil for the rest of the baking time. The buns are cooked if an internal thermometer reads 85°C (185°F).

Gently remove the buns (intact) to a wire rack, and leave them to cool completely.

Step 12

Make the icing by whisking together the ingredients until you have a thick, but runny, consistency.

Generously drizzle the icing over the buns, as much or as little as you like.

Make Ahead Tips

These Apple Cinnamon Rolls are best eaten on the day they are baked, but if you are planning to bake and serve them in the morning, such as for breakfast or brunch, you can start the recipe ahead of time.

Make the dough as per the recipe and leave it to double in size. Once the dough has doubled in size, without deflating the dough, cover the bowl and place it in the fridge where it will continue to rise very slowly overnight. The next day, proceed with the rest of the recipe.

The advantage of starting the night before is that the dough will be cold and easier to work with.

apple cinnamon rolls drizzled with frosting with green cloth
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Apple Cinnamon Rolls

5 from 1 review

  • Resting Time: 2 hours
  • Author: Thanh | Eat, Little Bird
  • Prep Time: 60 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Yield: Makes 8 Buns
  • Category: Bread
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: Australian, American

Soft and fluffy rolls filled with cinnamon and apple compote, the perfect combination for autumn or any time of the year! Recipe with step-by-step photos.

Ingredients

For the Dough

  • 400 g (2 2/3 cup) white bread flour
  • 75 g (1/3 cupcaster sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 9 g instant dried yeast (see Kitchen Notes below)
  • 1 egg, at room temperature
  • 250 ml (1 cup) milk, warmed to 37°C/98°F
  • 45 g (3 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened

For the Apple Compote

  • 2 large apples (I like Gala or Braeburn), peeled and diced
  • 12 tablespoons vanilla sugar, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice or orange juice
  • 12 tablespoons water, or more if needed

For the Cinnamon-Sugar Filling

For the Frosting

Instructions

You will need approx. 3 hours to make the Apple Cinnamon Rolls

For the Dough

  1. Measure the flour, sugar, salt and yeast into the bowl of an electric stand mixer.
  2. Lightly mix the ingredients together using the dough hook.
  3. Add the egg to the bowl.
  4. Slowly pour in the warm milk, and continue mixing until everything comes together into a rough dough.
  5. Add the butter, one tablespoon at a time. Once the butter has been fully incorporated into the dough, add the next tablespoon of butter.
  6. Once all of the butter has been added, continue kneading the dough on medium speed for about 15 to 20 minutes.
  7. The dough is ready when it is soft and smooth, and no longer sticks to the side of the bowl. The dough will be somewhat sticky from the butter and egg.

For the First Proofing Session

  1. Lightly oil a large mixing bowl.
  2. Place the dough inside the bowl.
  3. Cover the dough with a clean tea towel, plastic wrap, or a reusable bowl cover.
  4. Leave the dough somewhere warm for 1 to 1.5 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size (see Kitchen Notes below).

For the Apple Compote (makes a bit more than you need)

  1. Place all of the ingredients into a medium-sized saucepan.
  2. Bring the pan to a simmer over medium-high heat.
  3. Cook until the apples have softened to your liking and most of the liquid has evaporated. This can take 5-10 minutes. For this recipe, I suggest aiming for a rather chunky apple compote with some large pieces of apple for texture.
  4. If the mixture looks too thick or dry, you can loosen the mixture with some more water.
  5. Taste the compote to see if it needs more sugar.
  6. Depending on the type of apple that you have used, some apples break down quickly, whilst others keep their shape upon cooking. If you have used firm apples, you can mash them roughly with a potato masher or a fork. 
  7. Set the compote aside to cool completely.

For the Cinnamon-Sugar Filling

  1. Just before the dough is ready, make the filling by beating together the ingredients in a bowl.

To Shape the Apple Cinnamon Rolls

  1. Line a 25 cm/10 inch round baking dish or cake pan with baking paper.
  2. Once the dough has doubled in size, gently remove the dough from the bowl. The dough will deflate as you handle it.
  3. Roll out the dough into a rectangle shape measuring approximately 40 x 30 cm/16 x 12 inches.
  4. Use a small palette knife to evenly spread the cinnamon-sugar filling all over the dough.
  5. Then spread the apple compote on top of the cinnamon-sugar. You may not need all of the apple compote.
  6. Roll up the dough tightly from the short end, i.e. to produce a log that is 30 cm/12 inches long.
  7. At this stage, the dough might be very soft. You can place it in the fridge until it firms up, or you can proceed with the recipe with some careful shaping of the dough.
  8. Cut the dough into 8 even pieces using a very sharp knife.
  9. Arrange the slices of dough in the baking pan. If the dough is very soft, you may need to coax the slices back into round shapes – it might get a little messy!

For the Second Proofing Session

  1. Place the pan somewhere warm for about 20-30 minutes, or until the buns have risen and puffed up slightly.

To Bake the Apple Cinnamon Rolls

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/390°F (without fan) with a metal baking tray on the middle shelf.
  2. Place the pan of buns on the preheated baking tray.
  3. Bake the buns for 10 minutes
  4. Reduce the heat to 180°C/356°F and bake for another 20 minutes, or until the buns are lightly golden. Check the buns at about 10 minutes, and if they are browning too quickly, cover them with a loose sheet of foil for the rest of the baking time.
  5. The buns are cooked if an internal thermometer reads 85°C/185°F.
  6. Gently remove the buns (intact) to a wire rack, and leave them to cool completely.

To Frost the Apple Cinnamon Rolls

  1. Make the frosting by whisking together the ingredients. Add the milk gradually until the frosting is a thick, but runny, consistency.
  2. Drizzle the frosting all over the cooled Apple Cinnamon Rolls.
  3. The Apple Cinnamon Rolls can be served immediately or once the frosting has set. They are best eaten the same day they are baked.

Kitchen Notes

MAKE AHEAD TIPS
To make the Lemon Curd Rolls the night before, make the dough as per the recipe until it has doubled in size. Without deflating the dough, place it in the fridge to continue proving overnight. The next day, proceed with the rest of the recipe.

MAKE A LARGER BATCH
To adjust the recipe to make 12 buns, use the following quantities:
For the Dough:
600 g (4 cups) strong white bread flour

110 g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
1 teaspoon fine salt
14 g (4 teaspoons) instant dried yeast
1 egg
375 ml (1 1/2 cup) milk
60 g (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
For the Cinnamon-Sugar Filling:
125 g (1 1/4 sick) unsalted butter
125 g (3/4 cup) light brown sugar
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
Instructions
Roll the dough into a rectangle shape, measuring approx 50 x 30 cm/20 x 12 inches. Roll up the dough tightly from the long end, i.e. to produce a log that is 50 cm/20 inches long. Cut the dough into 12 even pieces.

DIFFERENT TYPES OF FLOUR
* For Swiss readers: I use Zopfmehl (or farine pour tresse) when making bread and enriched dough.

DIFFERENT TYPES OF YEAST
* Please note that there is a difference between instant yeast (also called instant dried yeast or fast-action dried yeast) and dried yeast (also called active dry yeast). If you are not sure what type of yeast you have, please check the packaging for instructions on how to use the yeast.
* With instant yeast, you can add it directly to the flour mixture without having to activate it first.
* With dried yeast, you will need to activate it first (usually in some warm liquid).

PROOFING THE DOUGH
Dough needs a warm environment for the yeast to activate and cause the dough to rise. If you don’t have a warm place in your home, try one of the following ideas:
* In the oven with the oven light switched on (works only for some ovens).
* In the oven with a tray of boiling water on the bottom shelf.
* In the oven or a steamer oven at a low temperature of about 25-40°C (77-104°F).

OVEN TEMPERATURES
All recipes on this website state temperatures for a regular oven (i.e. a conventional oven without fan). If you have a convection oven with a fan, please consult the manufacturer’s handbook on how to adjust the temperature and baking time accordingly.

CONVERSIONS
To convert from cups to grams, and vice-versa, please see this handy Conversion Chart for Basic Ingredients.

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3 comments

  1. Jennifer 25 October 2022

    Excellent recipe and very clear instructions. Loved the addition of the apple.

    Reply
  2. Cora 13 December 2023

    Made them today. They are absolutely delicious! The apple is such a nice addition and goes so well with the cinnamon. Perfect for this time of the year! 🙂

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 26 December 2023

      Hi Cora,
      So glad you enjoyed this version with apples! I love it too!

      Reply