Overnight apple butter cinnamon rolls are sweet, sticky, and irresistible! Layers of soft dough, apple butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon, all topped with sweet cream cheese frosting. Prep the night before, then bake in the morning for a phenomenal make-ahead breakfast.
I know of no breakfast food more universally adored than cinnamon rolls. They’re the hip kid who everyone is super excited to see at the party yet is still down-to-earth and will probably always remember his mama’s birthday. OK, maybe that last part is just me strangly voicing hopes for my son. Hmm. Anyway. If he turns out as well as these cinnamon rolls, I’ll be OK with that.
Over the past few years, I’ve experimented a good bit with sweet rolls, which has led me to this, my very favorite recipe for overnight dough.
Are you a frequent baker? Are you intimidated by yeast? I totally understand if you are. It wasn’t all that long that I was, as well! The good news is, it’s really just like any other ingredient. Follow the instructions, have a little faith, and you, too, can be sitting down to this one morning in the very near future.
This dough makes to-die-for plain cinnamon rolls. Soft, supple layers of bread, wrapped around rings of butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Add a generous slather of apple butter in the middle, as well, and you’re headed straight for fall baking heaven.
If you’ve picked up a jar of apple butter somewhere on a whim, here’s a great use for it! But you could also try making your own. You just need about 5 pounds of apples, some basic spices, and time to let the slow cooker work its magic; your house will smell incredible, and you will be rewarded with a big batch of the most delicious apple butter, ideal for dolling up recipes like this, slathering on muffins or toast or oatmeal or yogurt, or gifting to someone you really like. 🙂
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Now if only every morning could involve a leisurely breakfast with plentiful coffee, a pan of these rolls, fresh OJ, and a few mimosas. Although then again, if I had a pan of these available every morning, I would probably eat a lot of them every morning, which admittedly may have other side effects.
Well, special occasion breakfasts are well worth waiting for. So make these rolls for a birthday brunch, Thanksgiving breakfast, or, uh, just Saturday? I promise you they will be a contender for the best part of your day.
Overnight Apple Butter Cinnamon Rolls
For the dough:
- 1 cup (240 ml) whole milk
- 1 1/4 ounce package instant yeast (7 grams)
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) warm water
- 1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons, 57 grams) unsalted butter or coconut oil softened
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon table salt
- 1 large egg at room temperature
- 3 3/4-4 cups (450-480 grams) all-purpose flour
For the filling:
- 1/4 cup (4 tablesoons, 57 grams) unsalted butter softened
- 1/2 cup apple butter homemade or store-bought
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
For the frosting:
- 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons, 57 grams) unsalted butter
- 4 cups (454 grams) powdered sugar
- 3 ounces (85 grams) cream cheese softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4-6 tablespoons milk
- Warm the milk in a small saucepan or in the microwave just until it begins to bubble, then remove it from the heat and set aside until lukewarm, approximately 120-130 degrees F.
- Meanwhile, in a stand mixer or large bowl, combine the yeast, warm water, granulated sugar, butter or coconut oil, baking powder, salt, egg, and 2 cups of the flour. Add the milk when it is lukewarm, and beat with the paddle attachment or by hand until the mixture is smooth.
- Add an additional 1 3/4 cups flour. Swith to the dough hook, if using a stand mixer, and knead the mixture until a dough pulls together, then becomes smooth and elastic. (5-8 minutes if using a stand mixer, longer if kneading by hand.) Add the final 1/4 cup of flour if necessary. The dough should cleanly clear the sides of the bowl, and easily come together into a ball that is slightly tacky to the touch, but does not adhere to your fingers.
- When the dough is ready, lightly coat a large bowl with cooking spray or oil. Place the dough in the bowl, and turn it to coat with the spray or oil. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
- While the dough rises, prepare your filling ingredients. Set out butter to soften, combine brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl, and coat a 9-inch round or square baking pan with cooking spray; set aside.
- When the dough has doubled in size, punch it down and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Roll it out into a large rectangle, approximately 17”x13”. Spread evenly with butter, followed by apple butter, then sprinkle the surface evenly with cinnamon-sugar mixture.
- Starting with the long side, roll the dough rectangle up into a tight log. Using a very sharp knife, slice the log into about 12 rolls of about the same width.
- Place the rolls slightly apart in the prepared pans, wrap tightly with plastic wrap, and store in the refrigerator overnight.
- When ready to bake, remove rolls from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature to rise again. After 30-40 minutes, they should appear puffy and almost doubled in size. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 C).
- Bake rolls for 25-30 minutes, until golden on top. If necessary, cover the pans with aluminum foil toward the end of the baking time to prevent excessive browning. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool slightly.
- To prepare the frosting, melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Continue to cook, stirring or swirling the pan frequently, for 1-3 minutes, until the butter foams and then turns a dark golden color. Remove immediately from the heat. In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter and cream cheese until fluffy.
- Add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, alternating additions of sugar with spoonfuls of milk. Then add the vanilla and additional milk or powdered sugar to adjust the frosting consistency as desired.
- Spread frosting immediately on warm rolls, and serve immediately.
- Adapted from a caramel pecan roll on allrecipes.com. I’ve adjusted the amounts, since it’s really rarely a good idea for me to make TWO dozen cinnamon rolls, even on special occasions, and also have made a few swaps like coconut oil in place of butter.
- If you bake the rolls in a square vs. round baking pan, you may need to add an additional few minutes to the cooking time to ensure that the middle ones are done properly.
- The frosting can also be stored on its own in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.
Want to try these overnight apple butter cinnamon rolls?
Pin them to your breakfast, brunch, bread, or fall recipes board to save for later!
And find me on Pinterest for more great recipes! I am always sharing new ideas!
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