Caramel Apple Sweet Rolls
I was up at my parents’ place this weekend, and there must have been apples in my dreams because I woke up in the morning with caramel apple rolls on my mind. These are the perfect leisurely Sunday brunch type of food, for the kind of mornings when you have plenty of time and you aren’t going anywhere. They take a little bit of work, but they are SO worth it.
I started making them with apples that my dad had sitting on the table, but he said those weren’t crunchy and I should go get some off the tree. So I got to start my Sunday morning with a visit to the apple tree. We don’t know what kind of apples these are because the tree was just there when my parents bought the land, but the tree always produces tons of apples. They were all over the ground and still tons of them on the tree. It didn’t take me long to fill my basket. And then I was set.
First I mixed up the dough and got that going in the bread machine.
Caramel Apple Sweet Roll Dough
- 1 1/3 cups cold water
- 4 t. yeast (or about 2 packets)
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 T. canola oil
- 1 egg
- 2 cups bread flour
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 t. cinnamon
- 1 t. vanilla
Put all the ingredients in the bread machine and start it up on the dough setting. Now get to work on the apples.
Peel, core and chop 6 small apples into small pieces.
Prepare the caramel.
Caramel Sauce for the Sweet Rolls
- 1 cup brown sugar, packed
- 6 T. butter
- 1 t. cinnamon
- 1-2 T. water
- 1 t. vanilla
Put the brown sugar, cinnamon and butter into a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on 50% power until the butter is melted. Stir together to mix, then add 1 T. water and vanilla. If the caramel sauce looks too thick, add a bit more water.
When the dough is ready, dust a large clean surface with flour and roll it out into a long rectangular shape. The dough will resist getting any bigger after a while and will want to spring back into a smaller shape. (I was lucky to have some little hands to help me! This is a really fun project for kids.)
Now spray the dough with cooking spray, then sprinkle with cinnamon sugar so you get it all covered with the cinnamon sugary goodness.
I also sprinkled it with nutmeg because nutmeg is my girl’s favorite spice. Then sprinkle on some of the chopped apples so there are apples all across it.
Prepare your pan(s). I had to use two pans to hold all the rolls: one was a glass baking dish that I think was about 12 x 8 inches and the other was a square-shaped 9×9 inch baking dish. Spray them with cooking spray, then pour in the caramel sauce and sprinkle with apples. I sprinkled some pecans on one, and left the other one without nuts (my girl doesn’t like pecans).
Now take the dough and roll it into a long log-shape. You can pinch the edges to “seal” if you like, but I usually don’t bother.
Get some dental floss and pull out a long string. This is what you’re going to use to cut the dough.
About 1 1/2 inches from the end of the roll, wrap the floss around the roll so it crosses on top, then pull on the strings to cut the dough. My daughter did the cutting of the rolls.
Take the roll and place it in the pan with the loose edge up against the side of the pan. Then cut the rest of the log into rolls about 1 1/2 inches long and place them in the prepared pan(s) leaving a bit of space between them to allow them space to rise. Try to place the loose edges of each roll either up against the edge of the pan or next to another roll. We got 14 rolls from this log. You will see 9 in this pan. I actually took one of the little ones and moved it to the other pan to space them out a little better.
Now spray the tops of the dough with cooking spray and set them somewhere to rise. Cover them with a towel and put them somewhere warm. If you have an over-the-oven microwave, you can put them the microwave with the stove light on. The stove light just under the microwave makes it a nice place for the dough to rise. (You don’t need to cover them if you rise them in the microwave.)
Another great place for rising dough is in the oven. Preheat the oven to the lowest setting (usually 170 degrees F.) and then turn the oven off. Place the rolls in the warm oven covered with a towel.
It takes a while for the dough to rise. At least an hour, sometimes two. Once the rolls are big and poofy and they have filled up all the empty spaces in the pan, they are ready to bake.
Put them in an oven at 325 degrees F. for about 40- 50 minutes. I like to cover them with aluminum foil for about the first 20 minutes to keep them from getting too brown. You want the dough to be cooked through and the tops to be a lovely golden brown.
Immediately place another pan or serving tray on top and turn them upside down to invert them. It’s important to invert them right away to allow the caramel sauce to drip down over the rolls and to keep them from getting stuck in the pan you baked them in.
NOW it’s time to enjoy! Some people think you should let them cool a little … I think they are best when they are piping hot, right from the oven.