Quick Apple Cinnamon Rolls

Quick Apple Cinnamon Rolls Last fall I made some quick pumpkin cinnamon rolls that quickly became a favorite special breakfast treat.  This year I decided to see if an apple cinnamon roll would work as well.   The dough is essentially a sweet biscuit dough, not a yeast dough, so it comes together very quickly in the food processor and requires no rising time.  I flavored the dough with apple pie spice and applesauce and filled the rolls with finely diced apples and dried cranberries.  The finished rolls were drizzled with a cinnamon glaze.  The result was a pretty satisfying breakfast without a whole lot of work.

The texture of these rolls is like a cross between a biscuit and a coffee cake and has a wonderful soft crumb.  The rolls do pull apart (gently) like a traditional cinnamon roll though, allowing me to enjoy my favorite gooey center. While these take slightly longer than an hour to make (for an experienced baker), they still take way less time than regular cinnamon rolls to make and they definitely satisfy that craving.

Quick Apple Cinnamon Rolls
Recipe type: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
Quick, gooey, apple-filed cinnamon rolls that require no yeast.
  • For the Dough:
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • ⅓ cup plain, whole yogurt (or sour cream)
  • 3 Tbsp. dark brown sugar
  • 4 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour; more for rolling
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tsp. apple pie spice (see notes)
  • 1 Tbs. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. table salt
  • ¼ tsp. baking soda
  • For the Filling:
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 cup baking apple, cut into ¼" dice
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened dried cranberries
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice (optional)
  • For the Glaze:
  • 1 Tbsp. milk
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
  • ¼ tsp. cinnamon
  1. Preheat the oven to 400F and grease a 9″ cake pan very well.
  2. Chop the apple into ¼" dice and toss with the 1 Tbsp. lemon juice. The lemon juice keeps the apple from browning, so you can omit this and chop the apple last minute if you don't have a lemon.
  3. In a food processor, pulse together the applesauce, yogurt, sugar, vanilla and melted butter until smooth.
  4. Add the flours, spice, baking powder, salt and baking soda and pulse a couple of times until the dough just comes together.
  5. Dump the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it a couple of times until smooth. The dough will be very soft and moist.
  6. Roll the dough out into a rectangle approximately 12″x15″. It will be about ¼" thick. Check occasionally to make sure that the dough is not sticking and put a little more flour under it if it is.
  7. Brush the surface of the dough with melted butter leaving a ½” border. Combine the brown sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle half of it evenly over the top of the butter.
  8. Sprinkle the diced apples and dried cranberries on top of the dough and sprinkle with the remaining sugar and cinnamon mixture.
  9. Gently roll into a log from the long side. Pinch the seam to seal.
  10. Cut the log evenly crossways into 12 pieces.
  11. Put the pieces in the pan cut side up, starting with the center of the pan. It’s o.k. if the rolls don’t touch everywhere. A bench scraper is helpful here as the rolls are very delicate to move. If some of your slices are thicker than others, put the thicker ones on the outside of the pan and the thinner ones in the middle.
  12. Brush any remaining butter over the top of the rolls.
  13. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden and firm to the touch.
  14. Run a table knife along the edge of the rolls and immediately invert them onto a dinner plate and then invert them again onto a cooling rack.
  15. Let cool for 5 minutes while making the glaze.
  16. Mix the milk, vanilla and cinnamon together until combined. Add ½ cup of sifted powdered sugar and stir well. The glaze should be thick but pourable. Adjust the texture by adding more sugar or more milk as necessary. Drizzle the glaze over the warm rolls.
Whole wheat pastry flour works beautifully in this recipe. If you can’t find it, just use all white flour as regular whole wheat probably would make the rolls tougher.

If you have a well-stocked spice selection, you can make your own apple pie spice. Combine ½ tsp. of cinnamon, ¼. tsp nutmeg, ⅛ tsp. allspice and ⅛ tsp. ginger to make 1 tsp. of apple pie spice.

Use any type of tart, baking apple for this recipe. I used Gravensteins, but Pippins or Granny Smith apples would also be good.

I actually thought these rolls were plenty sweet without the glaze so omit if if you like. If you want lots of glaze then double the glaze ingredients.


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