Apple Crisp Buns

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Whenever a guest walks onto a talk show, they are laughing like someone told them a hilarious joke backstage right before coming out. What a cool job. Do they also have someone backstage on 20/20 to whisper something fucked up in your ear so you are appropriately solemn when you sit down with Diane Sawyer? Like “Ellen Degeneres pinches babies when no one is looking” or “Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah really are the same person“. I think I’d be good at that job.

I actually have two recipes for you. One is for cinnamon buns blanketed with a vanilla-espresso glaze. The other is for cinnamon buns curled around thin slices of Granny Smith apple, topped with a buttery streusel and drizzled with vanilla glaze.

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This recipe is based on my indecision. I wanted to share my cinnamon bun recipe, but I’ve been on a real apple crisp streak lately. So this is a result of a little bit of experimentation (GOD I’m wild). I split the dough in half and made both apple crisp buns, and regular. So you have your choice of two – or both!

I always make my cinnamon buns in pans, instead of individually on a cookie sheet. If you haven’t been baking them this way, you should be. The reason for this is that when the buns are baked together, the edges remain soft and moist instead of developing a crust. Then you get to drown them in a sweet and buttery glaze that makes them even more soft and gooey. Fuck, these are good.

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For the dough:

  • 4.5 cups flour (see note below)
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 4.5 teaspoons yeast (or 2 packages)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil (or melted butter)

For the filling:*

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1-2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and very thinly sliced

For the glaze:*

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup coffee cream, or whole milk

For the streusel:

  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 6 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 6 tablespoons quick oats
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

*These measurements are approximate and to taste. The filling and glaze is where you get to become comfortable, and soon you won’t even need to refer to a recipe. You’ll just sprinkle shit on there and have the confidence to know that it will taste great.

NOTE: You will not be using all the flour at once – please read the directions carefully! I am always on the verge of fucking up this recipe because I forget that I’ll be adding the flour in portions.

In a large bowl, mix together 2 cups flour, sugar, salt, and yeast.

In a small pot, heat the water and oil until very warm (but not hot). Add to flour  mixture. Blend low, then beat at medium speed for 3 minutes.

Stir in 2 1/4 cups flour. Knead in an additional 1/2-1 cup flour (you’ll know you have enough when it’s no longer sticky and becomes pliable and smooth). Knead 5 minutes. Place in a greased bowl and allow to rise in a warm place for 1 hour, or until doubled in size. What i like to do is put it in the oven with a pot of boiled water–this creates a warm environment for the yeast and really speeds up the rising process..

Split dough in half. Roll out dough into a rectangular shape about 20-inches by 10-inches and drizzle with melted butter, using your fingers to spread it evenly over the dough. Carefully cover with a layer of sliced apple. Sprinkle with sugar & cinnamon mixture. Carefully roll the dough into a log shape, tucking in as you go. Don’t freak out if the filling drips out a bit–messy buns are delicious buns. I’m never attracted to a dry, perfectly uniform cinnamon bun. I like them gooey, sticky and drenched in glaze.

Pinch the edge of the dough (along the length of the log) into a seam to seal, then place the log seam side down. Slice the log into 1/2-1 inch pieces. You have some freedom here to decide how big you want your buns to be. Don’t go crazy and slice them 5 inches thick, but you can adjust it by a half inch either way. They will grow as they rise, though, so 1 inch slices will end up being twice that size later on. Repeat with second half of dough – you can freeze this other portion for later if you want!

Drizzle a generous amount of melted butter into 2 pie plates, or shallow cake pans. Place 6 rolls in each pan, keeping in mind that they will be doubling in size so they will need extra room.

To make the streusel, mix together flour and sugar. Cut the butter into the mixture, using your fingers to blend the flour mixture into the butter. Add the quick oats and cinnamon. Sprinkle over the buns.

Preheat oven to 375F. Cover the rolls with a kitchen towel and allow to rise for about 20 minutes. Bake for 15-18 minutes until golden brown (not dark brown). The buns should be ready when you tap them and hear a hollow sound, or if you can see the insides are baked.

While the buns are baking, mix together the glaze ingredients. Pour over hot buns. Don’t hold back – when you feel like a truly dirty human being, you’ll know you’ve finally used enough glaze.

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I also want to say that I did not seal the edges of my buns which I specifically advised you to do in the recipe – I fucked up. But it is all OK because they still tasted the way they were supposed to. And deep in your heart, you know that’s all that matters.

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