When I was asked to create a recipe using Organic Washington apples, I immediately said yes. I have a soft spot for these apples, and this part of the world, after all. Way, way back when this blog was just a baby, I was invited to go visit some organic fruit orchards in the Wenatchee area, and I had the absolute best time. Washington state is known for being one of the premier apple-growing regions in the world, and the growing conditions make Washington the finest place to grow organic apples. The apple trees grow in nutrient-rich, volcanic soil, perfect for growing fruit. The dry climate and ideal temperatures reduce the number of diseases and pest issues that can wreak havoc on the fruit. Plus, plentiful water and advanced growing practices provide the right ingredients for growing top-quality fruit. I still remember seeing orchards hugging the Washington hillsides, as far as the eye can see. It’s a beautiful thing to witness, and one day I hope to visit the area again.
These cinnamon buns are pretty straightforward to make, but they do take some time. Most of it is just resting and rising times for the dough, but still, you’ll want to stick pretty close to home for a few hours. The tender, enriched sweet dough comes together easily, and if you have a stand mixer, that dough hook does all of the kneading for you. If doing this by hand, you’ll want to knead for about 10 minutes. While the dough is rising, prepare the fragrant apple filling. Buttery and bursting with cinnamon, these were so good it was difficult not to eat them all out of the skillet. The sugar and spice butter filling is also quite tasty - just be sure your butter is nice and soft so it spreads easily on the dough.
Once the dough has risen, punch it down, roll it out, top with the sugar and spice filling, then the cooked apples (be sure to save some for the topping), then roll up into a tight log. I used a 10-inch skillet, but you can use any baking dish that is around the same size, but go bigger rather than smaller. A 9x13-inch pan would also work just fine. Cut the log into 9 pieces then place in your preferred baking dish. Let the rolls rise again for 30 minutes, then bake for 30 or so more. And, oh my goodness, we need to talk about this icing! It’s got a little maple syrup and bourbon in it, so you know she is tasty! If you don’t have bourbon in the house, use a little rum, or you can just add a bit more maple and water if you don’t want to use the alcohol.
Drizzle the icing over the buns while they’re still a bit warm, then spread to cover. Top with the remaining buttery cinnamon apples and enjoy. I love how the delicious apple flavour comes through with the cinnamon and sweet dough. The maple bourbon icing has the perfect amount of sweetness, and the whole pan is a feast for the eyes. These are so good with coffee, and even the second day they were quite enjoyable when warmed up gently. Cinnamon buns are a bit of work to make, but the pay off in taste, and general life satisfaction is HUGE.
For more delicious Organic Washington apple recipes, you can find them here.
Apple Cinnamon Buns with Maple Bourbon Icing
Look for Organic Washington Gala or Granny Smith apples when making this recipe. They hold their shape well and have terrific apple flavour.
1 1/4 cups whole milk
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup salted butter
1 large egg, beaten
1 package active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
4-5 Organic Washington apples, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch pieces (about 3 1/2cups)
3 Tbsp salted butter
1 1/2 Tbsp granulated sugar
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
Sugar and Spice Filling:
5 Tbsp salted butter, softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp ground cinnamon
Maple Bourbon Icing:
1 cup icing sugar
3 Tbsp pure maple syrup
1 Tbsp bourbon
1. To make the dough: Warm the milk, sugar, and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently until the sugar is dissolved and the butter is melted.
2. Pour the milk mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer, and whisk in the egg. Check the temperature to make sure the milk mixture is just warm to the touch. If it’s too hot, wait a little longer.
3. Sprinkle the yeast over the milk mixture and wait for it to froth and bubble up - about 5 - 10 minutes. If it doesn’t do this, you have to start over.
4. Add the flour and salt to the milk/yeast mixture and knead with the dough hook for about 5-8 minutes, until a soft dough forms. If it’s too sticky, add 1 Tbsp of flour at a time. Transfer the dough into a lightly oiled bowl. Turn the dough over to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm spot for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
5. Prepare the apple filling: Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in the diced apples. Cook until tender but not mushy, about 3 minutes, then stir in the sugar and cinnamon. Cook until the sugar is dissolved, about 1 minute. If the apples stick, add a splash of water.
6. Prepare the sugar and spice filling: Mix the softened butter with the brown sugar and cinnamon.
7. Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it down and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Using a rolling pin, shape the dough into a 12x18-inch rectangle. Spread an even layer of the sugar and spice filling over the dough, then top with an even layer of apples, reserving 3/4 cup for garnish when the cinnamon buns have been baked.
8. Starting with the long end, roll the dough into a tight log. Pinch the ends shut. Using a sharp serrated knife, slice the dough into 9 equal portions. Place each roll into a greased 10-inch cast iron skillet or baking dish.
9. Cover the skillet with plastic wrap and let rise for 30-40 minutes or almost doubled.
10. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Bake the buns for 25-35 minutes, or until golden brown. If the top is getting too dark, cover with foil. Let cool on a wire rack for about 30 minute before glazing.
11. To make the maple bourbon icing: In a medium bowl, whisk together the icing sugar, maple syrup, bourbon, and salt. If the icing is too thick, add a splash or two of water until a spreadable consistency is reached. Drizzle the icing onto the warm apple cinnamon buns, and spread evenly. Top with the remaining cinnamon apples. Makes 9 cinnamon buns. They’re best when eaten the day they’re made but can be stored for a couple of days in a sealed container.