When I was really young, my family had a Klutz Kids Cooking book. The only thing I remember from this book was a recipe for “Happle Bagel Sandwiches”: a bagel topped with apple slices, cheddar cheese, and cinnamon. I’m not sure why we stopped making these over time, but I only remember eating them as a small child (probably 5 or younger). When thumbing through Deb Perelman’s The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, I saw her recipe for cheddar swirl breakfast buns and was immediately reminded of those happle bagel sandwiches from my childhood – I knew I had to try making a bun inspired by those flavors.
I have a bad habit of not reading a recipe all the way through before starting. The two minutes I saved by skimming through the recipe resulted in having to stay up two hours later than planned, into the wee hours of the morning, in order to finish – the steps aren’t at all complicated, but you do have to budget enough time.
That said, these buns were totally worth the wait and whatever sleep was lost. They’re the perfect combination of sweet and savory. Have you ever heard the saying, “An apple pie without the cheese is like a kiss without a squeeze”? I’d always found the idea of putting cheese on apple pie rather bizarre, but I may have to try it sometime, because these buns reminded me just how heavenly the combination of tart apples and cheddar cheese can be. While the original recipe was intended for breakfast, these buns are perfect for any time of day. Be warned, though – they’re addictive! I had to put some in the freezer, or else the whole batch might have been gobbled up in one day.
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 1/4 teaspoons (1 packet) instant yeast
- 1 cup milk
- 5 tablespoons butter, melted, divided
- 1 granny smith apple, peeled, cored, and diced
- 1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3-4 tablespoons cinnamon sugar
- In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, and sugar.
- In a separate bowl, stir yeast into milk until dissolved.
- Add milk and yeast mixture and 4 tablespoons melted butter to flour. Mix with an electric mixer or wooden spoon until a rough, sticky dough ball forms.
- If using a mixer, switch to a dough hook and stir at a low speed for about 5-6 minutes, or until a smooth/slightly tack-y ball forms. (You can also do this by hand, but it will take longer. I also can’t personally attest to the results, but Deb has indicated that you’ll be fine!)
- Place dough in a lightly-oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set in a warm place and let it rise for about 2 hours.
- Place dough on a well-floured surface. Roll into a rectangle about 12 by 16 inches.
- In a bowl, mix together apple pieces, grated cheese, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Spread evenly over dough, leaving a little extra room at each of short ends. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top. Roll into a tight log, starting from one short end.*
- Use a piece of dental floss to cut log into 12 1-inch rolls. To do this, place floss underneath log, wrap floss around and pull taut.
- Line two round 9-inch pans with parchment paper, and place six rolls in each. Brush tops with remaining one tablespoon butter. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for about 2 hours (see notes).
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove plastic wrap from pans and bake for 20-25 minutes, until tops are golden brown. Serve immediately.
- I didn't quite follow Deb's instructions in step 9. If you're like me (impatient and already up past your bedtime because you didn't read the instructions all the way through before starting), you can let the rolls sit for 30 minutes (instead of 2 hours) before baking. The results may not be ideal, but they're still scrumptious, I promise!
- To make your own cinnamon sugar, combine 1/4 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon cinnamon.