Cooking

Giant Apple Cinnamon Roll

What better way to satisfy a craving for apples, cinnamon and fluffy yeasted bread than with this Giant Apple Cinnamon Roll? Drizzled with a cream cheese frosting, this is best shared cut in slices with family and friends for breakfast or brunch.

food, giant apple cinnamon roll

What better way to satisfy a craving for apples, cinnamon and fluffy yeasted bread than with this Giant Apple Cinnamon Roll? Drizzled with a cream cheese frosting, this is best shared cut in slices with family and friends for breakfast or brunch.

The Biggest Cinnamon Roll Ever

While I find store bought cinnamon rolls to be too cloyingly sweet, I love homemade cinnamon rolls. They are so soft and the perfect treat to bake in the fall or winter. I had the idea of combining fall apples and cinnamon rolls to make not just individual rolls but a gigantic one that could be cut to see all the layers of apples and yeasted bread.

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My Top 3 Baking Apples

My favorite apples for snacking are also my favorite apples for baking. I love a nice crisp, tart apple. No mushy or mealy apples allowed! Here are some of my favorite baking apples that you can also mix together for different flavors and textures.

Granny Smith Apples: A classic apple variety and the one I reach for the most when I want to bake. It has that classic green skin and pairs well with lemon and brown sugar.

Pink Lady Apples: These are similar to Granny Smith apples but they are slightly sweeter and with a blush pink skin.

Jonagold Apples: A cross between a Golden Delicious and Jonathan, I first tried Jonagold Apples a few years ago and I was surprised at their flavor. I appreciate them for their texture and a slightly mild honey-like flavor.

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An Enriched Dough

With the addition of eggs, milk and butter, this type of dough is called an enriched dough because these ingredients result in a rich, buttery bread with a tender crumb. Exactly what you want in a homemade cinnamon roll, right? If you’ve never made yeasted bread from scratch or are intimidated by kneading, this cinnamon roll dough is one of the easiest to pull together.

Once you allow your yeast to proof (read more here), it is simply a matter of mixing together all of the wet ingredients before adding in the flour. My preferred method is to stir the ingredients in a large bowl with a wooden spoon and then knead it all together on a floured surface. You can also plop everything in a stand mixer with a bread hook attachment and let it do the work for you. Either way, you should end up with a smooth and elastic dough. Place in a large, greased bowl and cover. Let it proof for 1-2 hours or until doubled in size before shaping.

Pre-Cooking the Apple Filling

While the dough is rising, you can make the filling so it has enough time to cool down. Cook the apples down with spices, brown sugar and lemon zest until they are soft and the juices have cooked out. This is important so the interior of the cinnamon roll does not get soggy.

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How to Form a Giant Apple Cinnamon Roll

Once the dough has proofed, knock down the dough and knead 10 times to release any other air bubbles. To get this giant cinnamon roll effect, I made two long ropes with the apple filling rolled inside and spiraled them around each other.

Roll half the dough into a long rope, approximately 18” long. Flatten the rope and with a rolling pin, roll out the dough so it is about 4” tall and as long as you can get it. For me, this was about 24”. 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 the same as the first but this time, continue the spiral until you have formed a giant cinnamon roll.

The baking time can be a little tricky to tell especially with the apple filling. The bread is done if a thermometer reads 190ºF or it comes out cleaning from the center of the bread. It is better to slightly overbake than underbake this bread.

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

And what is a cinnamon roll without cream cheese frosting? With the addition of lemon zest and juice, this frosting has the right about of sweet and tart flavor. This Giant Apple Cinnamon Roll is impressive and satisfies any apple, cinnamon, yeasted bread craving you may have.

food, giant apple cinnamon roll

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food, giant apple cinnamon roll

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I would definitely take this over an apple fritter. Actually maybe any other apple cinnamon baked good.

Giant Apple Cinnamon Roll

Yields: One 9-inch round cinnamon roll

Ingredients

Dough

  • ¼ cup butter
  • ½ cup milk
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons warm water
  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups of all-purpose 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 zest

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

  • ⅓ cup cream cheese, softened
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 4 teaspoons lemon juice

Steps

Melt butter with milk, sugar and salt and 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 the cooled milk mixture 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 the 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 to your hands. This should take about 10 minutes.

Let the dough proof in a lightly greased bowl and cover with a damp kitchen. You can let it proof overnight in the fridge or in a warm, draft-free place for about two hours or until doubled in size. If proofing overnight in the fridge, cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a silicon lid so it doesn’t dry out.

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 zest 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 a damp kitchen towel and set aside. With the other half, roll into a long rope, approximately 18” long. Flatten the rope and with a rolling pin, roll out the dough so it is about 4” tall and as long as you can get it. For me, this was about 24”. If you have some resistance with the dough, let it rest for 5-10 minutes before rolling it again.

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 the 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 ~190ºF or until it came out clean.

Let cool in the pan on a cooling rack. To make the frosting, whip the cream cheese and slowly incorporate the sifted powdered sugar and the lemon rind. Add the lemon juice one teaspoon at a time. I liked a consistency that could be drizzled 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 enjoy immediately.

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