Sweet Happy Life

Apple Cinnamon Buns with Vanilla Glaze

For years now my husband and I have gone apple picking in the Autumn, but this year it really blew me away. It wasn’t the apples (which were delicious) or the Vermont scenery (which is gorgeous) but how much my son has changed since we took him to an orchard for the first time last year. Back then he didn’t know what an apple was. Now he’s almost two-years-old and not only does he know what apples are but he insisted upon picking them himself and putting them in HIS bag. Then he hogged the cider donuts on the way home.

Baking with the fruits of our labor has also changed and in the best way possible. Now I’m peeling and dicing apples while the munchkin pretends to cook with his play food and pots. I’m giving him an apple slice to snack on. And we’re kneading the bread dough together, albeit somewhat haphazardly since he prefers to smack the dough while shouting Boom!. I sometimes wonder whether I’m raising the next Emeril Lagasse.

We’ve been snacking on most of our apples but how could I resist baking with them them too? Nothing too complicated. Something easy with simple steps that the munchkin could help with. That’s where the apple cinnamon buns you see below come in. My son beat up the dough after I finished the official kneading, then he sprinkled tossed the sugar and apples on the rolled out dough. Finally helped me drizzle pour the glaze over the cooled buns. Baking with a toddler is an adventure to say the least. I’m not even going to tell you about the sugar high he had after licking his fingers post glazing.

I hope you make these apple cinnamon buns soon. They are fluffy and gooey and sticky and sweet in all the right ways. That diced apple is mixed in with all that cinnamon sugar makes them perfectly suited to this time of year too. Just don’t blame me if you eat more than one in a sitting.

Apple Cinnamon Buns with Vanilla Glaze (My Recipe)

Notes: I used 2 cups of whole wheat flour and 1/2 cup of olive oil in this recipe. If you want, you can replace the whole wheat flour with all-purpose flour and replace the olive oil with melted butter.

Ingredients: Makes about 16 buns (You will probably need two pans, I used one 9×13 pan and one 8×8 pan)

For the dough:

  • 1/2 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups King Arthur white whole wheat flour*
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • Pinch of salt

For the filling:

  • 1 stick of butter, melted
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 large apples, peeled, cored and diced

For the glaze:

  • 2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • About 1/3-1/2 cup milk (see directions below)

* I only use King Arthur White Whole Wheat flour with this recipe. It has a lighter texture, which means I can use more whole wheat flour without sacrificing anything in the finished product. If not using King Arthur flour, for this recipe I would recommend using only all-purpose flour.


In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl, combine the yeast, water and milk. Allow to proof for 5 minutes, then add the olive oil, sugar, eggs and vanilla, mixing well. Add the whole-wheat flour and mix until combined. Add the all-purpose flour 1/2 cup at a time until the dough pulls away from the sides of your bowl and forms a sticky ball.

Switch to your dough hook or turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Knead for 2-3 minutes by machine or 3-4 minutes by hand. The dough is finished when it is smooth and bounces back when you press your finger into it.

Grease a large bowl with about 1 tsp of olive oil and place the dough in, turning once to coat. Cover with saran wrap and allow to rise in a warm place for 1 hr.

Make the filling
In a medium bowl combine the brown sugar, granulated sugar and cinnamon, mixing well. Add the diced apples and stir a couple times.

Assemble the buns
Grease your pans with baking spray. Set aside.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface. It should be about 10×20 inches, but no need to be precise about it. Just make sure you don’t roll the dough too thin or the buns won’t be fluffy like you want them to be. The long side of the dough should be perpendicular to your body.

With a pastry brush, coat the dough with the melted butter, going right up to the edges of the dough. Sprinkle the filling over the dough, leaving a one-inch margin along the edges. Spread the filling with a spoon, gently pressing the apples down into the dough.

Tightly roll the dough into a log with the rolling action going away from you. I like to fold either side of the dough in as I roll to prevent any filling from falling out.

With a serrated knife slice the log into pieces about 2 inches thick. Place the buns in your prepared trays about 1/2 inch apart so that they aren’t touching and have room to rise. Cover with saran wrap and allow to rise for 40 minutes.

Bake and Glaze the buns
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Bake the buns for 20-25 minutes or until they are golden brown. Set aside to cool.

In a small bowl combine the confectioners sugar, vanilla and milk. Start with 1/3 cup of milk and adjust the thickness of the glaze to your liking by adding more milk by the tablespoon and mixing until smooth between additions. If you add too much milk, just add more sugar until the glaze thickens up a bit.

Drizzle the glaze over the cooled buns. Dig in.

11 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Wow! That looks amazing! I adore cinnamon and apples, why have I never thought of putting them into cinnamon rolls together. Looks delicous

  • I never thought of adding apples to cinnamon rolls, but that sounds yummy.

    We just went to the orchard with our almost-21-month-old last weekend, but it was raining the whole time, so we didn’t go out picking. She made up for it when we got home by picking up each apple from the bag we bought and bringing them into the living room.

    So far I’ve been making apple crisp and just recently made up a recipe I’m calling Apple Clafouti Crisp that I’ll probably get around to posting on my blog soon–it produced something with the goodness of apple crisp that could be cut up into neat (okay, neat-ish) bars for serving.

    Have a great autumn!

    • Hope you have a great Autumn too John! Apple crisp sounds delightful and I love how your little one made an indoor apple picking activity for herself. So adorable.

    • You know I just used the apples we got during our apple picking adventure! it think they were Gala or Cortland apples, but any good baking apple will do. AllRecipes has a nice rundown of them here: http://allrecipes.com/HowTo/baking-with-apples/detail.aspx

  • I’m going to try this recipe this week!  However, when I went to get the King Arthur White Wheat flour, they only had Whole Wheat flour.  Do you think it will be okay to use?
    If not, can you clarify something for me (I’m probably reading too much into this)? 
    You stated “If not using King Arthur flour, for this recipe I would recommend using only all-purpose flour.”  Do we use 6 cups of all purpose flour to make up for the missing wheat flour?