I have been traveling so much over the past few months that I have felt like my photography has become stagnate. I keep trying to make time to shoot for me; but, then work comes first. Every time I do shoot, I say to myself “I could, or I should be doing better than now.” Kind of a constant struggle I have with myself. This past weekend I decided to do something for me, creatively, and I set out to work on a new recipe for Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls. With that developing I decided to take some process shots along the way. Process shots are typically something I do not do, but when I set aside some time and focus on shooting, I enjoy the time. Do you enjoy seeing process shots? Do you find them helpful?
With October here, and Fall knocking on our door it only felt right to make something with apples. First thought was a buttery apple pie; but, since I did not want to feel compelled to enjoy an entire pie, I opted for something “smaller.” As well, I was going to see some very special people (MEM) over the weekend and thought they would enjoy a sweet treat.
Apples are starting to show up in the markets, and I have feeling this is going to be a great apple season. The few I have been buying for snacks have been outstanding. While my beloved Pink Ladies have yet to show up, the Jonathan Golds, as well as the Granny Smiths which I used in this recipe, have been crispy and juicy. Feel free to use your favorite baking apple!
I love making cinnamon rolls using a brioche dough, and the recipe I use if from one of Dorie Greenspan’s cookbooks; I swear by her baking books!! I find the entire process very calming from kneading the dough to putting it all together. This brioche dough is rich, buttery, and easy to work with. Dreamy is what I often call it, and the rolls come out amazingly! Lenny always says my cinnamon rolls beat out everyone’s recipes! Trust me he is a tough critic. I did cheat this time with the frosting and used a pre-made caramel sauce that I had in the pantry. Typically I use this recipe if you feel motivated to make your own.
I enjoyed having some time to set-up my space to shoot in, pick out props, take my time trying to style them and then shooting some actual action shots. It may have taken me longer than usual, and I may have shot way too many photos, but at the end of the project, I felt reborn and alive. I was thoroughly challenged creative wise and eager to get back into my shooting! Maybe even more process shots. I won’t share all the photos on this recipe post, but you would like to see them, the photos are posted here.
Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls
- 2 packets active dry yeast
- 1/3 cup water
- 1/3 cup whole milk
- 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup sugar (used coconut palm this time but usually use unrefined)
- 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature but slightly firm, cut into 2-tablespoon chunks
- 4 granny smith apples, peeled and cut into small dice
- 4 tablespoons of sugar
- 6 teaspoons of cinnamon
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup of cream cheese, whole fat at room temperature
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- 1/3 cup pre-made caramel sauce
For the dough:
- Warm water and milk together in a saucepan until warm to touch. Place yeast, water, and milk in the bowl of stand mixer and using a spatula, stir until yeast is dissolved.
- Add flour and salt and fit the mixer with the dough hook. Turn mixer on the lowest setting to avoid flour flying up. Turn mixer on and off in a few short pulses, just to dampen the flour. Increase mixer speed to medium-low and mix 2 minutes, just until flour is moistened. At this point, you will have a fairly shaggy mass. Scrape sides and bottom of the bowl with rubber spatula. Set mixer to low and add eggs one at a time, followed by sugar and vanilla bean paste.
- Increase mixer speed to medium and beat for 3 minutes, until dough forms a ball. Reduce speed to low and add butter 2 tablespoons at a time, beating until each piece is almost incorporated before adding the next. You will have a dough that is almost batter-like in texture. Increase speed to medium-high and continue to beat until dough pulls away from sides of the bowl, about 10 minutes.
- Lightly butter another mixing bowl and transfer dough to it. Cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature until nearly doubled in size, about 40 – 60 minutes, depending on how warm the kitchen is.
- Deflate the dough by lifting up the edges and letting fall into the middle of the bowl. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator. Repeat the same process every 30 minutes until dough stops rising. This should take about 2 hours. Leave the covered dough in the refrigerator to chill overnight.
- The next morning, take the dough of refrigerator about 60 minutes before working with it.
For the filling:
- Melt 1/4 cup of butter in small pan. Using a pastry brush, butter two 9×9-inch baking pans. Set aside.
- Divide the dough evenly in half, and set aside one half. Roll out one of the halves of dough onto lightly floured surface into a large rectangle about 2/3-inch thick and 14 x 12 inches wide/long.
- Using a spoon, mash the remaining 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter until smooth. Spread half of the butter over rolled out dough using back of large spoon. Save rest of butter for remaining dough.
- In a medium sized bowl add the diced apple with the sugar and cinnamon. Stir gently to combine. Evenly scatter half of the apples over the dough; save the remaining apples for the other half of the dough.
- Starting at the longest side, roll tightly into a log. Using a long piece of unflavored dental floss, loop under the log of dough and pull up and criss-cross ends to cut into 1/2-inch thick circles. You can cut the rolls into larger circles if you want bigger rolls. Place into baking pan, barely touching. You may need to adjust a bit. Cover with plastic wrap and drape a couple flour towels over the top of the plastic wrap.
- Repeat with the remaining dough, butter and apple mixture.
- Set aside in warm room and let rise until doubled, about 30 – 60 minutes. The time depends on how warm your kitchen is.
- Preheat the oven to 350 while the rolls are rising.
- Once the rolls have risen, bake them for 20 – 30 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven. Let sit for 5 minutes and then frost and serve.
For the frosting:
- In mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Add sifted powdered sugar and mix well, then add the caramel sauce. Mix until smooth. Place in the refrigerator for a few minutes so it is a little firmer for spreading over the warm rolls.