My mom's been on a diet for a while now. She's doing well on it -- cutting back on simple carbs, eating more whole grains and veggies... you know, that whole "healthy lifestyle" thing.
So, like any good daughter would, I decided to make make some nice, gooey cinnamon rolls for Mother's Day. I started out with good intentions; I was going to whip up some low fat, whole grain rolls sweetened with applesauce and whole fruit. A health-fooder's delight.
Then I remembered how much trial and error it takes to get those puppies to taste right. I decided I'd better stick with something a little more tried-and-true, at least until I have time to do a test batch. I still wanted to get that fresh fruit in there, though, so I decided to do an apple-cinnamon-filled roll with a carmelized apple topping.
I modified an apple strudel recipe for the filling, and switched up the directions for sticky buns to make the topping. The result is delicious without being too sweet. Of course, you could always use a more traditional sticky bun topping if you really need that extra hit of sugar in the mornings.
I combined two dough recipes to create the one below -- one was pretty low in fat, the other very high. I think I reached a pretty good compromise. If you want a richer dough, you could always throw in some more butter or an extra egg. Just add enough flour to compensate. You could also make this with a wider variety or larger quantity of whole grain flour. I used just a touch of spelt to add some nutiness and body to the rolls, and I think it was definitely preferable to straight white flour. You could use any grain, though; I just happened to have spelt lying around at the time.
Yes... spelt. I don't call myself a culinary deviant for nothing.Recipe:
First, make a sponge so your yeast can grow strong and happy:
1 packet yeast
½ cup warm water
1 tsp sugar
½ cup flour
Let the sponge rise until you see the bubbles begin to sag. At that point, stir in a few tablespoons of flour to perk it up again. Repeat this process for two or three cycles. You could also leave the sponge out overnight to mature, if you were so inclined. It improves the texture and flavor of your rolls, but I didn’t leave myself enough time to do this.Dough:
¼ cup butter
¼ cup milk
1 tsp salt
¼ cup sugar
½ cup whole grain spelt flour
4-5 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
Heat butter and milk together until the butter melts. Pour the mixture into a large bowl, then beat in the eggs, sugar, and salt. Stir in the sponge and the spelt flour. Add white flour cup-by-cup until dough comes away cleanly from the sides of the bowl. As soon as you can handle the dough without it sticking to your hands, knead it briefly on a floured surface. The dough should be very soft and pliable.
Put the dough in an oiled bowl and roll it to coat it in oil. Let it rise about 45 minutes. While it is rising, prepare your filling and topping.Filling:
3 apples, very thinly sliced
3 Tbs. butter
1 Tbs. cinnamon
4-10 cardamom pods, crushed
2 tsp lemon rind, grated
¼ cup brown sugar
1/2 cup raisins
¼- ½ cup rum
Soak raisins in rum in a small dish.
Sautee the apples in butter and brown sugar until the sugar has dissolved and the apples are soft. Stir in lemon rind, cinnamon and cardamom to taste. Add raisins and remaining rum. Cook until rum evaporates.Topping:
½ apple, thinly sliced
2-3 Tbs. Butter
½ cup brown sugar (approximately)
1 Tbs. CinnamonAssembly:
Preheat oven to 375 °
Using about 2 Tbs of butter (you could easily use more), liberally butter an 8x8 or 9x9 in. square pan, leaving blobs of butter over the bottom surface. Add enough brown sugar to coat the pan to ¼ in. deep. Lay sliced apples evenly over brown sugar. Sprinkle with the cinnamon, and add a bit more brown sugar over the top.To make the rolls:
On either lightly floured wax paper, or a piece of sheet or t-shirt that has been saturated in flour, roll your dough out in a rectangle about ½ in. thick. Spread the cooked apple filling over the dough, covering as close to the edges as possible.
To roll the dough, pick up one of the long edges of the wax paper or fabric and lift it upwards. The dough should begin to curl down on itself and form -- you guessed it -- a roll. Roll the dough all the way up, like a jelly roll, and cut into 9 equal pieces.
Put the dough pieces into your prepared pan, cut side up. It’s fine if they squish against each other. Let rise an additional 45 minutes, or until doubled. If you want to cook them fresh in the morning, cover loosely and place in refrigerator overnight.Bake:
Bake for 30-40 minutes, until lightly browned. To serve, invert onto serving plate. The caramelized apples will make a sticky, gooey topping without the need for icing. Eat these rolls immediately. They are delicious and moist fresh out of the oven, but keep only about a day at most. My leftovers started drying out by evening.