Some recipe ideas take a lot of thought and brainstorming, notes and research, and then eventually you get an amazing idea. Others, like this one, just come to you in an instant and you know: oh man, I definitely have to make those. These are the really fun ones, because they may fail or they may be incredible. And these apple butter brioche cinnamon rolls – yeah, they were incredible.
All total, these cinnamon rolls were made over four days for me, but there are plenty of places you can save time. I made my apple butter from scratch, but you can buy it in a jar to save a couple days. For the rolls themselves, I let them rise in the fridge overnight, but you can do them in one day.
For the cinnamon rolls, I decided to use a bread-forward enriched dough, like a brioche. I adapted it from Erin McDowell’s recipe. If you’re making any cinnamon rolls, be sure to read her guide. It’s super comprehensive, and you’ll never go back.
If you’re going to make your own apple butter, you’ll need a slow cooker, plenty of patience, and a good tasting spoon. It’s a really easy process, but it’s time consuming, so skipping it is totally fair.
These apple butter cinnamon rolls are perfect for a fall brunch, Pair them with the savory vegan lentil breakfast sausage and some eggs for a well-rounded meal. Definitely use them as the dessert course of a fancy celebratory brunch. And don’t forget to have a tasty cocktail, like this almond Irish coffee hot cocoa.
Apple Butter Brioche Cinnamon Rolls
Cinnamon Roll Dough
- 4 1/2 cups Bread Flour
- 1/2 cup Sugar
- 1 Tbsp Instant yeast
- 1 Tbsp Salt
- 4 Eggs
- 1 Egg Yolk
- 1 3/4 cup Milk
- 1 1/8 cup Butter
- 2 cups Apple Butter
- 1/2 cup Sugar
- 2 Tbsp Cinnamon
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 2 oz Cream Cheese, softened
- 2 cups Confectioner's Sugar
- 1 Tbsp Milk
- 4 quarts Apples, cored and cut into large chunks
- 2 Cinnamon Stick
- 1/2 cup Brown Sugar
- 1/2 tsp Nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp Cloves
- If you are making your own apple butter, start this recipe 3-4 days in advance. Otherwise, it can be started the day before or hour before serving.
- To make apple butter (makes about 1 quart): combine the apples and cinnamon sticks in a slow cooker. Heat on low for 8 hours, stirring every hour until mushy. Remove the cinnamon sticks and thoroughly blend with an immersion blender. Then add the sugar and spices, and continue cooking for another 10-12 hours on low, stirring every hour or so, until dark and thick. The apple butter should hold it's shape and stay on a flipped spoon when done.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt. Mix using a dough hook on low until combined.
- Add the eggs and milk, and continue mixing on medium low for about 7-10 minutes, until the dough is smooth.
- Add the butter a small amount at a time, and thoroughly mix it into the dough before adding more butter. This will take about 5 minutes total, or longer if you add more butter at once.
- Place the dough in a greased bowl, and cover. Leave in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours to rise. It will not double, and you may not notice much expansion at all.
- Pour the dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll out into a large rectangle, about half and inch thick. Use a bench scraper to keep the dough as rectangular as possible.
- Spread the apple butter over the rolled dough, leaving a half inch margin along one of the longer sides. Mix together the the cinnamon and sugar, and generously sprinkle over the top of the apple butter.
- Starting at the long side without the margin, gently roll the dough into a log, tucking the apple butter into the roll. This can get a little messy, so you may want a wet paper towel on hand.
- Use a serrated knife to slice the long log into 12 pieces. Grease a 13x9 baking pan, and place the rolls spiral side up into the pan. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least four hours, but for best results overnight.
- Remove the rolls from the fridge and place in a cold oven to rest while you bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Place a pie tin or casserole dish on the rack underneath the rolls, and add the boiling water. Close the oven oven let steam for a 1/2 hour.
- Remove the rolls and water, and preheat the oven to 375F. Let the rolls rest while the oven is preheating. Then bake for 25-30 minutes, until puffed up and golden brown.
- Let the rolls cool for about 20 minutes while you prepare the frosting. Whisk the cream cheese and half the milk together, and slowly incorporate the sugar into it. Add more milk as needed.
- For best results, serve immediately by topping the cooled rolls with the frosting.
- Or eat later by placing the rolls in the fridge unfrosted for up to 3 days. Store the frosting in the fridge separately. Reheat by placing a single roll in the microwave for one minute, adding frosting on top, and then microwave for an additional 30 seconds.