Apple Cinnamon Buns with Maple Glaze

I often find myself thinking about all the things I would do if I didn't have to sleep.

Is that weird? Am I the only one who does that? I can't be, I bet everyone thinks about it but no one says anything. And if you honestly don't, now you will. 

As much as I love sleep, I'd really like to not have to sleep. So much more time to do things! I would definitely bake more. But I'd probably do things that I don't normally have lots of time for, like practicing guitar. My boyfriend gave me a super nice guitar for Christmas last year and I've learned a total of one song... I know bits of other songs, like the cute song from the Fellowship of the Ring and a basic version of the beginning of Stay or Leave by Dave Matthews. I've tried to learn a lot of songs, but it takes lots of time to completely get a song down. With school, work, and baking taking up most of my time, I don't always want to play guitar on my down-time. Sometimes I just want to sit on my couch and cuddle with my cat. 

But, see, if I didn't have to sleep, I would have tons of time to practice guitar! And I would read more books and I would watch more nature documentaries. I'd learn how to carve wood (also weird?) and maybe I would learn how to make candles. Those are two things that seem fun to learn. Who knows, it's not like I've ever tried it.

The only problem is that I'm terrified of the dark. Not your usual, "Oh, it's dark, I'll just turn on the light here" kind of fear. It's the, "Oh, god, the lights are off, what's that in the corner, did something just move over there, oh no, oh no, where's the damn light switch, oh no, my hands are shaking". Irrational fear, some may call it. I have a very active imagination and a very good memory, which is good but also horribly bad. The last scary movie I saw was 4 years ago and yet I remember almost every scene (that I saw from behind my hands) in that movie. In the dark, I imagine those zombie people lunging at me and I start to freak. 

It's probably a good thing that I sleep, otherwise I'd be paralyzed by the dark when trying to do night activities. 

I realize that none of this has anything to do with Apple Cinnamon Buns, but hey, it's always fun to learn something new (and embarrassing) about someone else. Anyways, while these cinnamon buns are not the best looking buns you'll ever see, they sure are one of the tastiest. Since the filling is liquidy, it's messy business trying to cut them up. I'd suggest using less of the filling, unless you like your cinnamon buns sticky and gooey and messy. 

Apple Cinnamon Buns with Maple Glaze

Recipe adapted from Michael Smith, Chef at Home

Sweet Dough
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (1 1/4 oz. package)
4 eggs

Apple Cinnamon Filling
2 Granny Smith apples, cored, peeled, and chopped
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon

Maple Glaze
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons good quality maple syrup

For the dough, warm the milk, butter, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt in a small saucepan. Be careful not to simmer it and definitely don't boil it. You want it just warm enough to melt the butter. If it's too hot, it will kill the bacteria in the yeast and your dough won't rise.

Measure half of the flour (2 1/2 cups) into the bowl of a stand mixer and add the yeast. Add the warm milk mixture and beat with a paddle attachment until smooth. Add each egg one at a time, beating after each addition. Switch to a dough hook and add the remaining flour (2 1/2 cups).

Remove the dough and flour a work surface. Knead the dough until it is soft and elastic and does not stick to the surface, your hands, etc. Lightly grease a bowl with oil or butter and put the dough in, flipping it so the whole thing is covered with butter/oil. Cover with a damp kitchen cloth and let it rest in a warm, dry place. This can take an hour to two hours, depending on how warm your kitchen is.

For the filling, combine the ingredients in a saucepan and cook over medium-low heat until the apples are tender, about 15 minutes. 

Make sure your work surface if clean, then flour it again. Flour your hands and a rolling pin and roll out the dough into a rectangle, roughly 18 by 12 inches, or 45 by 30 centimeters. The long side should be facing you. 

Evenly spread the filling over the dough (use all of the filling if you want messy buns, less if you want neat buns). The filling will be a bit glue-like and not as easy to spread around. Leave a little bit of dough uncovered by the filling so the filling doesn't squish out. Tightly roll up the dough.

Brush the top with a bit of melted butter or oil and lightly grease a baking pan. This is going to be the messy part. Cut the cinnamon buns into sections. I made 16 sections, but yours may vary. Since the filling is liquid, rather than the traditional paste-like filling, some of it is going to squish out when you cut it. Place the cinnamon buns in the baking pan. Try your best to put the apple bits back in the rolls, if you can. 

Let the rolls rest, uncovered, until the rolls have risen again and have expanded into each other. 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Bake the cinnamon buns for 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from oven and let them cool a little in the pan.

When the buns have cooled enough that you don't burn your hands, stir together the glaze ingredients and drizzle liberally over the rolls. Serve!

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