Serves a Crowd

Chai-Spiced Apple Cinnamon Rolls

November 29, 2016
1 Ratings
Photo by tasty seasons
  • Serves 8
Author Notes

These rolls are quick (no yeast, no rising) and have a cozy blend of spices, plus apples. They're the the ultimate comforting cinnamon roll. —tasty seasons

Test Kitchen Notes

My 2-year-old son and I made this recipe and had a blast. All of the ingredients were easy to identify and collect. We used freshly ground spices for the filling, which rocked. Once baked, the yeast-free dough had just enough crunch on the outside, while the center of the rolls were super soft, the apples and spices were warm, and nothing was too sweet. The standout in this recipe was the tender, flavorful dough. I'll make these again, next time adding nuts to the bottom of the baking pan for more sticky fun. —Jorge Veitia

What You'll Need
  • For the filling:
  • 2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 firm baking apple
  • For the dough and icing:
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 pinch ground cloves
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and divided
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  1. For the filling:
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the sugars and spices and stir to combine thoroughly. Add the melted butter and mix until the everything is combined and looks like wet sand. Set aside.
  1. For the dough and icing:
  2. Put an oven rack in the upper middle position and preheat the oven to 425°F. Get out a 9-inch (23 cm) nonstick circular cake pan. If your pan is pretty good about not sticking, you can skip the next step. If your pan tends to stick, grease the bottom and sides with a bit of butter. Out of the way of your workspace, set a wire cooling rack over a piece of wax paper (for cooling and icing the gooey buns later).
  3. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices and stir to mix. In a large glass measuring cup or small bowl, add 2 tablespoons of the melted butter to the buttermilk and stir. Add these liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir for about 30 seconds, just until the dough comes together (it will still look shaggy). Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and knead gently just until it’s smooth and uniform.
  4. Using your hands, gently pat the dough into a 12-inch (30 cm) by 9-inch (23 cm) rectangle. Brush the dough with the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter, leaving a 1/2-inch (1 cm) border around the edge. Sprinkle the filling mixture evenly over the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch (1 cm) border around the edge of the dough. Cut the apple into a small dice and sprinkle evenly over the filling. Press the sugar mixture and apple pieces down so they stay put.
  5. Using a bench scraper or metal spatula, loosen the dough from the counter. Starting on the long edge, roll the dough into a tight log, pressing gently as you go to keep it neat. Roll the log over so the seam side is facing down and cut the log in half, then cut those two pieces in half, then cut each of those four pieces in half so that you end up with 8 evenly-sized pieces. As you pick up each piece, press the open (swirly) sides lightly between your palms to make sure the filling doesn’t fall out as you transfer each piece to the pan. Set the first piece in the center of the pan then arrange the other 7 pieces evenly around the perimeter.
  6. Bake the rolls for about 20–25 minutes, or until they are golden brown on the edges. As soon as they come out of the oven, run a rubber spatula around the edge of the pan, then invert your cooling rack over the top of the pan and flip the whole thing right side up over your wax paper. The filling will be gooey and very hot, so be careful. Don’t wait to get the rolls out of the pan though, or the goo will turn to glue and the rolls will be stuck in the pan.
  7. To make the icing, while the rolls are in the oven (or just after they come out), sift the powdered sugar into a medium bowl (I find putting the sugar through a fine mesh strainer breaks up those little lumps that otherwise refuse to melt into the icing). Whisk in the milk and vanilla extract, adding milk a few drops at a time if the consistency isn’t smooth enough to drizzle over the rolls. The icing will dry out a bit if it sits for a long time uncovered, so you may need to add a drop or two more milk if that happens.
  8. Once the rolls have cooled for about 5 minutes, use a spoon to drizzle the icing over them. Serve immediately, but be super careful with the molten hot core of each roll, which is always about 15 times hotter than the outside pieces.

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1 Review

Kt4 January 1, 2019
The flavor is great! Love the apples and the spices. Definitely came out gooey & carmelly - absolutely turn it out of the pan before it cools or a jackhammer won't get it out :-D

But the dough was very loose, very sticky; more like a thick cake batter. I had to add a lot of flour to get a rollable dough - around 1 cup worth I think (didn't measure it) - and it was still sticky. I think I ended up overworking it a bit as a result. Next time I'll use Violet's Bakery recipe (on Food52) for the dough with this filling.