Nov. 21, 2022

Cosmic Crisp Apple Cinnamon Rolls

Skill level: Moderate

Wake up on the right side of the morning with these easy, gooey, and pillow-soft apple cinnamon rolls made with Cosmic Crisp apples and drizzled with brown butter cream cheese icing. These homemade milk bread apple pie cinnamon rolls are really easy to make and can be prepared in advance!



  • ¾ cup water
  • ¼ cup bread flour

Yeast Mixture

  • 1 cup warm milk (100-105°F)
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast or instant yeast


  • 4 cups bread flour
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg at room temperature
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature

Apple Pie Filling

  • 5 Cosmic Crisp apples, peeled, cored and diced
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon cloves
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch

Brown Sugar Filling

  • ⅔ cup dark brown sugar packed
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 ½ tablespoon cream cheese at room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • Two tablespoon milk
  • ¼ teaspoon salt


  1. In a small saucepan, add the water and bread flour on medium heat and, using a rubber spatula, mix until there are no more lumps and the mixture has thickened for about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low and continue mixing for an additional 1 minute. Remove from heat, transfer to a small bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Make sure plastic wrap touches tangzhong to prevent it from developing a film. Refrigerate until it has cooled to about room temperature.


  1. Bloom the yeast. Mix warm milk, two teaspoons of sugar, and yeast in a small bowl or large measuring cup. Mix and let it bloom for 5-10 minutes or until frothy. (Do this with either instant or active dry yeast to check if the yeast is still alive)
  2. Make the dough. Mix the bread flour, the remaining sugar, and salt in the bowl of your KitchenAid with a dough attachment. While the mixer is on low, add the yeast mixture, tangzhong, and egg. Continue mixing until the mixture transforms into a dough, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add butter and knead. When the dough has just formed, add the softened room temperature butter and knead on low until combined about 1 minute. Then increase the speed to medium-high and knead until smooth, 7-8 minutes. The dough should form into a soft elastic ball and be slightly sticky. If it's too sticky (meaning it's sticking to the bottom of the mixer, add 1-2 tablespoons of bread flour.)
  4. 1st Proof. Shape the dough as a ball and place in a lightly greased mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and Proof in a warm place for about 1-1 ½ hours or until doubled in size. This may take more or less time, depending on the humidity and temperature in your home.


  1. Apple pie filling. Mix the apples, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves in a large mixing bowl until evenly coated.
  2. Cook the apple filling. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat and add the apple mixture. Toss to coat and stir until apples are tender and release some of their juices about 3 minutes. Then add the cornstarch and mix to incorporate. Cook until the mixture has thickened. Set aside to cool.
  3. Cinnamon sugar filling. In a small bowl, mix brown sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.


  1. Roll out the proofed dough. After the dough has doubled, transfer the dough onto a well-floured surface and roll out the dough into a large rectangle, about ¼-inch thick.
  2. Add the filling. Spread softened butter over the dough, leaving a ¼-inch margin along one width side to seal the dough. Next, sprinkle the cinnamon sugar and diced apples over the buttered dough, leaving the ¼ margin at the end clean.
  3. Roll the dough. Starting from the brown sugar-coated width side, tightly roll the dough and end with the unbuttered side and gently pinch the end to seal the edges of the dough as best you can.
  4. Cut the dough. Cut into 1-inch sections with a serrated knife or floss.
  5. 2nd Proof: Place the cut cinnamon rolls in a lined and greased baking pan (9-inch round or 9x13 pan). Cover the pan with a kitchen towel and place it warmly for 30-45 minutes.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350˚F or 176˚C. Remove the kitchen towel and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until slightly golden brown along the edges. Allow them to cool for 5-10 minutes before frosting.

Cream Cheese Icing

  1. Brown the butter. Add the butter to a small saucepan over medium heat. Allow the butter to brown lightly until it is golden brown and smells toasted with some brown bits at the bottom of the pan, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat to cool for 5 minutes.
  2. Mix the room-temperature cream cheese, powdered sugar, milk, vanilla extract, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Then add the browned butter and whisk until combined. If the icing is too thin, add more powdered sugar; if it's too thick, add more milk.
  3. Drizzle icing over warm rolls using a piping bag or a spoon. Enjoy!

Other Recipes