Soft, fluffy buns with a cinnamon and brown sugared swirl, softened caramelised apples and toasted pecans. Finished off with a thick, vanilla and maple whipped cream cheese frosting and caramel drizzle. Best served warm, these don't hang around for long. Use our free PDF downloadable cinnamon bun guide for a run down of bread flour, types of yeast, kneading times and how to make them ahead or freeze.
Time to prep : 2.5 hours (inc. rise times)
Time to bake : 25 minutes
Servings : 12
1 tbsp active dried yeast
90g granulated sugar + 1 tbsp
550g strong white bread flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
80g butter, melted
Cinnamon sugar filling
6 tbsp butter, softened
180g light brown sugar
2 tbsp ground cinnamon
4 eating apples, peeled, cored and cubed into 1cm chunks
Juice of 1 lemon
60g brown sugar
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp cornstarch
Cream cheese frosting
120g cream cheese
3 tbsp butter, softened
80g icing sugar, sieved
1 tsp vanilla paste or extract
4 tbsp maple syrup
Pinch of salt
8 tbsp caramel sauce, to drizzle
Gently warm the milk in a pan until it's 'bath-water warm', then pour into a jug and add the yeast and the 1 tbsp of sugar. Stir to mix and then leave to activate for 5 minutes, or until it goes foamy.
Put the flour, cinnamon and salt into a large bowl, stir to mix. In a seperate bowl, combine the 90g granulated sugar, vanilla, eggs and melted butter and then pour this into the bowl of flour along with the activated yeast milk. Mix with a spoon until a dough forms.
Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 - 12 minutes until a smooth dough is formed and the dough is no longer sticky (or use a standing mixer with a dough hook attachment). Transfer this dough to a clean and lightly oiled bowl, then cover with cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for about 1 hour, or until doubled in size. Meanwhile, grease and line a 30 x 20cm ovenproof dish with non-stick baking paper.
Meanwhile, prepare the apple filling. Place everything except the cornstarch in a saucepan over a medium heat until the butter has melted, stir to mix. Bring to a simmer and cook for 8 - 10 minutes, stirring often - until the apples are soft. Remove from the heat, stir in the cornstarch and set to one side (or keep in fridge). We want the apple mixture to be cooled when we use it.
Preheat a fan oven to 180C and spread the pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 8 minutes until deeper brown in colour. Remove and once cool enough to touch, roughly chop and set to one side.
After the first rise, tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and without disturbing it too much, roll and stretch it out into a large rectangle, about 40cm x 60cm. Spread the softened butter all over the dough rectangle using clean hands. Mix the brown sugar and the cinnamon together and sprinkle this on top of the butter, using your fingers to press it into the butter.
Spread the cooked and cooled apple mix on top of the sugared cinnamon, then scatter over the roasted and chopped pecans.
Starting at the long edge, tightly roll the dough up like a Swiss roll, pinching at the end to seal and keep a tight roll. Use a very sharp knife to score and then cut the roll into 12 slice, each about 5cm thick. Trim off any loose ends.
Place the rolls in a greased baking tray, cover tightly with cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for another 1 hour (or see notes below if making in advance. When you're ready to bake, pre-heat a fan oven to 180C and bake for 20 - 25 minutes until golden around the edges and the dough is firm to touch.
Cream cheese and caramel
Make the cream cheese frosting by using a handheld electric whisk to beat the butter until soft and pale. Then add in the cream cheese and beat again until smooth. Add in the vanilla and maple syrup and gradually add in the icing sugar in batches until everything is mixed in and smooth.
If your caramel is thick, slacken it off with a few tsp of milk or cream.
Spread the cream cheese frosting over the buns whilst they're still warm from the oven and drizzle over the caramel sauce.
Good to know:
Skip out the pecans or swap with other nuts such as walnuts, hazelnuts and/or add in raisins or sultanas for a juicy burst of sweetness
If you're making these ahead, after you've filled, rolled and sliced the cinnamon buns, cover the baking dish in clingfilm and keep in the fridge overnight or for up to 24 hours. Remove from the fridge for 30 minutes and allow to come to room temperature before baking
Can be frozen at this stage (above) or after baking, before frosting for up to 3 months. See the downloadable guide for full information and how-to's