Applesauce Cinnamon Rolls

Exactly one year ago today I wrote one of my most viewed entries on Floptimism. It was a recipe for applecider muffins that are, by far, some of the tastiest muffins I’ve had. Looking back on that entry has reminded me that I should make them again, especially since I’ve been meaning to experiment with some recipe tweaks since the last time I made them.

Because the post was so popular, though, I decided to honor this one year entry anniversary with another apple baked good, yet another sweet confection that blurs the line between breakfast and dessert. These applesauce cinnamon rolls were definitely good – in fact, everyone who tried them loved them, though I still think there’s room for improvement (although really, when I’m I not itching to change something or other with a recipe?). The dough is surprisingly easy to make – surprising, at least, considering how intimidated I usually feel with yeast. It isn’t that I’m afraid of the rising process or getting the right temperature. I’m not afraid of failure as much as I am deterred by the in-depth process that seems to go hand in hand with yeasted doughs. Sure enough, this is relatively time consuming, especially if you make your own applesauce (which I do recommend regardless of the slight increase in prep time), but it can be spread out over multiple days if that makes it easier, and it all flows together pretty well. I can certainly handle this type of relaxed, involved recipe better than I can the ones that have me running around like a chicken with its head cut off. Which may or may not happen more often than I’d care to admit.

As far as taste goes, the applesauce was a little bit too lemony. I used dried lemon peel rather than chunks of fresh peel that would later be strained out, and although I dialed back the quantity, it was still a little too potent for my liking. It worked in the recipe, but it impacted the appeal of eating the leftovers as a standalone. In general, I prefer my applesauce recipe (apples + water, easy as pie). The rolls were a little too flat for me – I’m not sure if I did something wrong with the dough or if it was just a fluke, but mine did not stand up like the ones in the photos in the original post. The dough may also be on the drier side, though it’s important to note that I baked them earlier in the day and warmed them in the oven for an additional 10 minutes or so before serving, which could have dried them out a little more. The insides are perfectly moist and sweet, and I didn’t even think they needed much of a glaze (I didn’t include one – I wanted to make a honey glaze, but I was vetoed in the end so I left them plain) except for the occasional outside, drier bite. If you use a glaze, consider reducing the sugar in the filling a little bit, which I did, anyway.

One Year Ago: Apple Cider Muffins

Cinnamon Applesauce Rolls, adapted from Green Cilantro
Yield: approximately 15 rolls

The Ingredients
1 1/3 cups whole milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup superfine sugar1
1 ½ teaspoons yeast
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
1/3 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
3 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
¾ cup applesauce2
¼ cup brown sugar
ground cinnamon, to taste
sultanas or raisins (optional)

The Method
Combine the milk, oil and fine sugar in a sauce pan and heat to scald the mixture (bringing it to the point just before a boil). Remove from the heat and allow to cool to between 100-115°, approximately 30-40 minutes. At this point, add in the yeast and allow to sit for one minute. Stir in the all purpose flour, cover, and let rise for at least one hour.

After an hour, add in the whole wheat flour, baking powder and soda, and salt. Stir the mixture, which will still be sticky. This dough can be refrigerated for up to two days; just punch it down if it begins to rise out of the pan. Or, use the dough right away.

Once you’re ready, flour a work surface generously and spread the dough into a rough rectangle. Roll it out extremely thin, maintaining its approximate shape. Drizzle with the melted butter and top with the applesauce. Sprinkle with enough brown sugar to thinly coat the surface and follow it with a generous sprinkling of cinnamon and, if using, sultanas or raisins.

Roll the dough neatly and tightly, starting from the end farthest from you and moving closer to you. Pinch the seam to seal it. Divide the roll into 1-inch thick slices and arrange them on a greased baking sheet, allowing space between the slices for additional rising. Let the rolls sit for at least 20-30 minutes, preferably 1 hour, before baking at 350° until light golden brown, 20-25 minutes.

1Also referred to as caster sugar, this can be made by grinding regular granulated sugar in a food processor for 30-60 seconds.
2Making your own applesauce could not be easier – simply peel and quarter as many apples as you’d like and add to a sauce pot. Cover the bottom with a scant amount of water, cover, and cook over medium or medium-low heat until the apples break down into as chunky or as smooth of a sauce as you’d like, stirring from time to time. No need for sweeteners. You can add in cinnamon or cinnamon sticks or, as this particular recipe called for, 4 strips of lemon peel, the juice of 1 lemon, and a cinnamon stick for every 3 pounds of prepped apples used. Strain any undesired ingredients (lemon peel, cinnamon stick) at the end.         


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