Attention, cinnamon roll lovers: I want to show you how to make the best (at least in my eyes/mouth) cinnamon rolls with apple pie filling. They are wonderfully moist (thanks to the apples), have a pleasant cinnamon taste, are slightly sweet, and the yeast dough is nice and soft – even with wholemeal flour inside. Making apple cinnamon rolls from scratch is easy and fun. And as a bonus, you can enjoy a home full of cinnamon rolls scent.
Cinnamon roll love
I don’t know about you, but I’ve always been a big fan of this round delicacy. I have probably eaten countless cinnamon rolls since I was a child. One could quickly say that I grew up with them. Well, maybe only indirectly. Cinnamon rolls are delicious, but not necessarily the most nutritious. But with a few turns, you can easily prepare them less unhealthy. So you can eat twice as many with half as bad a conscience. And if you still crave some rolls, then you might want to try these savory vegan pizza rolls.
Cinnamon rolls (un)healthy
Are cinnamon rolls healthy? No, they are definitely not, on the contrary, although this vegan apple cinnamon roll version is at least, let’s say, less unhealthy. On the one hand, these cinnamon rolls with apple pie filling are dairy-free and eggless (they are therefore completely cholesterol-free). Instead, you make them with rapeseed oil. You don’t need to replace the egg. They become fluffy even without them, the dough is nice and smooth and everything holds together perfectly. I also make these cinnamon rolls with spelt flour, specifically with wholemeal spelt flour, at least halfway. And yet they are delightful and soft, and moist, thanks to the apples.
Apple cinnamon rolls without apples or without sugar
Speaking of apples: you can also easily prepare this recipe without apples, then you have classic cinnamon rolls. In this case, the cinnamon rolls filling would only be cinnamon, sugar, and vegan butter (or oil), which you spread on the dough before adding the sugar mixture.
If you want to make sugar-free apple cinnamon rolls, you could use a sugar substitute like xylitol. But be careful: If you want to prepare your rolls with dry yeast, you can replace sugar entirely with xylitol. When using fresh yeast, however, you must add some as the yeast bacteria cannot feed on xylitol. You could also generally use a little less sugar in the batter and in the filling, and instead, add a few raisins to the filling. I love them, but my darling hates them, so you won’t find any in my recipe (unfortunately).
Where are cinnamon rolls from?
From the oven. Just a bad joke. It is said that cinnamon rolls origin is in Sweden where they are called Kanelbullar (Kanelbulle in the singular) and are particularly popular with fika, the traditional coffee break. In Sweden the cinnamon roll is even celebrated with its own official cinnamon roll day, namely on Kanelbullens Dag on October 4th.
By the way, typical Swedish cinnamon rolls are enriched with cardamom. I haven’t tried it yet, as cardamom and I are just slowly becoming friends. In this chai syrup recipe it is used, and in my beloved beluga lentil curry, which I have only posted on Instagram so far. If you should dare to try the Swedish cardamom way, then, according to my research, I would use about ½ teaspoon of ground cardamom directly in the dough and another ½ teaspoon in the filling.
Cinnamon rolls can also be found in many other countries. In the USA, instead of being baked individually on a baking sheet, they are baked close together in a pan (and therefore only separated after baking). American cinnamon rolls usually come with a cream cheese frosting on top. I recently tried it and baked it as described: The result was very tasty, but it was too sticky for me. Although there would be a next step with the so-called American cinnamon bun, which gets an extra portion of sugar by sprinkling sugar on the bottom of the pan before the dough is even placed in it. Mostly they are made with pieces of pecan as well, mmmh nom nom.
I like the Austrian (?) version best, namely cinnamon rolls from the baking tray, and with a glaze on top. Are you wondering which glaze is best for cinnamon rolls or what goes best on cinnamon rolls? As described, the Americans prefer to make frosting from cream cheese and the Swedes use nib sugar for their Kanelbullars. I prefer to make my cinnamon rolls (but also poppy seed or nut rolls) with a little sugar glaze. The recipe consists of two ingredients, and it may take a minute or two to prepare it.
What dough for cinnamon rolls?
This question is easily answered, namely, with a yeast dough. So this is how they are traditionally made, whether in Sweden, the USA, or Austria. And accordingly, these cinnamon rolls with apple pie filling are made with yeast dough, which I make with dry yeast. That works excellently, even for beginners in baking with yeast. The good thing with a dough made out of yeast: You can prepare it in advance, meaning that the dough can rise overnight (12 to 18 hours) in the fridge.
If you want your homemade rolls to be yeast-free then you could use puff pastry. Cinnamon rolls with puff pastry are not only easy to bake, but also particularly quick. Puff pastry is especially suitable for raid-like visits or for lazy days. Or for a busy day, when there is no time for “real” cooking or baking. The puff pastry you can buy is rarely somewhat healthy. Some at least use spelt flour, sometimes there is even a wholemeal version, but at least, usually (please check the list of ingredients), it is plant-based. Therefore, you can bake your rolls also this way vegan. But you can’t expect any soft and moist cinnamon rolls. Apple cinnamon rolls using puff pastry are more of a crumbly affair, but still very tasty!
Cinnamon Roll Tips
I can’t wait to show you how to make these delicious cinnamon rolls with apple pie filling. But before I (finally) share the recipe with you, I would like to go into a few details. Baking them is easy, by no means witchcraft, but there are still a few things to consider. Save yourself the need to take time to figure it out and read on for a moment:
Dough’s & Doughn’ts
- Not too thin: Please don’t roll out the dough too thin, we don’t bake pizza here. This is one of my most common mistakes, time and time again. Do not roll out too thin, otherwise the filling will come through. Min. 0.5 cm (half a finger) thick is a good guideline.
- Even rectangle: Roll out the dough as evenly as possible into a rectangle (otherwise you only have half-finished rolls because suddenly there is no dough to wrap.)
- Leave the edge empty: Leave approx. 2 cm (1-2 fingers wide) of the edge empty on the upper side of the dough, by this I mean that you shouldn’t put any filling on it here. This piece is necessary to close the roll a little. With filling on it, it would not “stick” to the other opposite part. Phew, I’m afraid that wasn’t explained quite logically. Please just do it like that, while you will understand what I mean. If not, no end of the world.
- Sufficient flour on the work surface: Before rolling the dough, make sure you’ve used enough flour on the work surface, for example by trying to move the dough a little. If it sticks, you cannot form a nice roll. There is also the risk that the dough will tear.
- Nice and firm: Please do not roll the dough up too loosely, so that you get really nice apple cinnamon rolls. This does not always work that well with the small apple cubes as it does with a smooth mass, such as a poppy seed filling. One option would be to grate the apples instead of cutting them. But since I would have to use an own kitchenware for this and would like the recipe to be as simple as possible, I accept looser rolls.
Many small ones or a few big ones
- Size doesn’t matter: If you want XL apple cinnamon rolls, roll them up from the short side. Conversely, you roll up the dough from the long side if your target is many small rolls. You could also cut the dough in half lengthwise before you roll it. In this case the goal is to have a lot mini rolls, for example as a party snack. Size doesn’t matter: either way, they are delicious.
Heat & Duration
- Cinnamon rolls convection or top and bottom heat / bake at how many degrees: Both is possible. In a convection oven, the temperature is usually set approx. 20 degrees lower. With circulating air, I bake them at 160 degrees and with top and bottom heat at 180 degrees.
- How long cinnamon rolls bake: For about 20 minutes. However, I hardly let them out of my eyes after 15 minutes of baking time. They are done when they start to turn a little brown. Your apple cinnamon rolls don’t have to be brown throughout, because then they have been in the oven for too long and could get dry and hard.
- When to glaze cinnamon rolls: Let them cool down before you add the glaze on top of your cinnamon rolls.
Store & Warm up
- Where to store cinnamon rolls: Sure, they taste best freshly baked. But if you don’t have several guests and eat countless pieces at once or simply want to prepare your cinnamon rolls with apple pie filling for the next day, I recommend keeping them in the refrigerator. I stack them in a large food storage container and take them out about 30 minutes before I want to eat them. Or I heat them in the microwave for about 20 seconds, then they taste like freshly baked.
- Can cinnamon rolls be frozen: If you want to make your apple cinnamon rolls in advance, you can freeze them after baking. I use a freezer storage bag for this. About 30 minutes before I want to eat them, I let them thaw at room temperature. Then I put them in the microwave for about 20 seconds. Freezing cinnamon rolls raw or baked: I freeze them when baked! Supposedly it also works unbaked. I can well imagine, but I can’t give you any details.
Ok, I think enough has been said about apple cinnamon rolls. I hope you enjoy baking and, above all, enjoy eating them! Let me know in the comments how you liked them.
Last but not least, I would like to show you with whom I love to share tasty cinnamon rolls … 😉
- 200 g (7 oz or 1 2/3 cups) all-purpose flour
- 200 g (7 oz or 1 2/3 cups) wholemeal spelt flour
- 1 packet of dry yeast (7 g or 0.25 oz or 2 1/4 tsp)
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla sugar
- 200 ml (6.7 oz or 7/8 cup) warm (= neither hot nor cold) plant-based milk (e.g. oat milk)
- 80 ml (5 1/2 tbsp) oil (e.g. rapeseed oil, preferably with butter flavor, see note)
- 2 tbsp oil (e.g. rapeseed oil with butter flavor)
- 2 tbsp cinnamon (ground)
- 4 tbsp sugar
- 2 apples
- 100 g (3.5 oz or 0.8 cup) icing sugar (powdered sugar)
- 2 tbsp lemon juice (approx. ½ lemon)
- Knead all ingredients for the dough for about 5 minutes with your kitchen machine (or with your hands, a little longer) until you have a smooth dough.
- Cover and let the dough rise for about 1 hour. Then roll out a relatively even rectangle at least 5 mm (1/4 inch) thick (please read my tips above the recipe!).
- Mix the cinnamon with the sugar and peel the apples before you cut them into small (approx. 5x5 mm) pieces.
- Now, spread the oil onto the dough and sprinkle the sugar-cinnamon mixture and the apple cubes all over. Leave approx. 2 cm free on the long upper side.
- Then roll the dough up, but not too loosely (away from you towards the upper long side), and cut into slices approx. 2 to 3 cm wide. Now, these are the single rolls. Depending on the size of the rectangle and slice, you will have +/- 12 pieces.
- Place the apple and cinnamon rolls on a baking sheet lined with baking paper, cover with a tea towel and let rise for another 30 to 60 minutes. At least until you can see that the dough has risen nicely again.
- In the meantime, preheat the oven to 160 degrees (320 F) circulating air or 180 degrees (360 F) top and bottom heat. Bake the rolls on the middle rack for about 20 minutes, until they start to turn slightly brown.
- Switch off the oven, open the door and let the rolls cool down.
- Now the frosting can be prepared. Simply mix the icing sugar with the lemon juice and spread it over the rolls with a spoon. Let the icing cool down again briefly.
- You could also use only white all-purpose flour. Then the rolls become even fluffier and moister - but then they are less “healthy”.
- I make vanilla sugar myself from ground Bourbon vanilla, which I mix with sugar and store in a sealed glass. It is much better and cheaper than instant vanilla sugar.
- I prefer to use the Austrian brand "Kronen Öl”. They have rapeseed oil with butter flavor, which I like to use in baking recipes. Alternatively, you can also use Swedish “alba oil”. Or you can use 100 g (3.5 oz) vegan butter at room temperature. I've never baked the rolls with butter before, but 80 ml of oil can be offset against 100 g of butter. And the 20 ml of oil that is spread on the dough with 30 g (1 oz) of butter.