Go ahead, take a bite. Mentally savor the first mouthful of this apple-filled roll; imagine the taste, the tangy notes of citrus, the crunch of the pecans. Now inhale, mmmmmmm! the aroma alone is delectable.
We've been back aboard for more than a week, keeping busy with boat projects and Spring outfitting and consuming interesting (okay, boring) quick-fix meals. I did bake some sour cherry rye bread (link) last week, but it was definitely time to bake some sweet treats for the Capt. With only two days left to add a recipe to #TwelveLoaves for the April theme of Oranges, the pressure was on to create something suitably orangey. Guilt entered the picture as well. It's been over a week since dock neighbor Dave inquired about sampling some baked goods, looking hopefully in my direction whenever I passed by. But wait a minute, who needs an excuse to bake? Not me, not really.
I'm not crazy wild about sweets, so a fruit-filled something was an obvious choice. I could have jazzed up our old standby, Awesome Sticky Buns, a long-time favorite of family and friends, but that felt like cheating on the #TwelveLoaves challenge. Instead I took the opportunity to adapt a new-to-me sweet dough recipe for rolled buns using Canola oil instead of butter. Thank you, PioneerWoman for the recipe suggestion. I had w-a-y too many apples left from Saturday's purchase at the Coombs Country Market, so today's filling had to include diced apples. eCurry's riff on the PioneerWoman recipe provided inspiration as well. Ginger, orange juice plus zest, and star anise joined the party for flavor, and I was ready to roll.
Well, almost ready to roll; I had started too late in the evening to finish before midnight. Oops! I settled for preparing the apple filling and the dough, popping both in the fridge and heading for bed. The dough came out of the refrigerator at 6:00 the next morning and in my chilly galley took a little over an hour to warm up, soften up, and agree to roll out.
Note to self: This solution was more tedious than it would have been to finish the assembly and then refrigerate the filled pans.
No matter, the result was worth the extra fiddling. These rolls were both different and delicious. RL stated for the record that he missed the ooey-gooey syrup of a traditional sticky bun, but compared this recipe favorably to a more traditional cinnamon roll. He ate two rolls after breakfast, a sure sign of approval.
I shared a plate of rolls fresh from the oven with neighbor Dave and his Way West crew. He came by later, to say "Thank you," and admitted to eating two while they were still warm. When pressed for a taste critique, he repeated "Delicious... delicious", and had no suggestions for improvement.
The recipe is a keeper, and invites experimentation. Smaller, individual bites baked in small muffin tins might star at a brunch buffet. Other fruit and nut combinations come to mind. Frosting drizzles would add another layer of sweetness for anyone craving sweets. But for today, Orange Spiced Apple Rolls were perfect as is, thank you.
Orange Spiced Apple Rollsadapted from ThePioneerWoman and eCurry recipes
For the dough:
1 cup milk, scalded
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup Canola oil
1 heaping teaspoon active dry yeast
2 1/2 cups AP flour, divided
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 scant teaspoon baking soda
1/4 heaping teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon Apple Pie spice (Penzey's)
For the apple filling:
2 Tablespoons butter
4 cups apples; peeled, cored & diced small
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
zest of 1 small orange (grated or slivered)
juice of 1 small orange (or 1/4 cup orange juice concentrate)
2 star anise
1 heaping cup pecans, toasted & rough chopped
1/2 stick (4 Tbs) melted butter
Optional syrup to drizzle on top:
Sugar dissolved in orange juice for simple syrup
Granulated sugar to sprinkle
Prepare the dough:
- Whisk in the sugar and oil into the scalded milk until the sugar dissolves. Let cool (under 100 F). Add the yeast and watch it bubble a bit, then add 2 cups of the flour and stir gently to mix. Cover and rest for 1 to 2 hours (this gives gluten development a head start).
- Sift together the remaining 1/2 cup flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder and Apple Pie spice; add to the dough. Knead to fully incorporate these new additions.
- Divide the dough in two, forming a ball with each half. Cover and let rest for 15-20 minutes.
- Use a non-stick pan to avoid scorching. Melt the butter over medium-high heat until it bubbles; add the apples and toss or stir to coat each piece. Add the brown sugar, fresh ginger and orange zest, stirring until the sugar melts. Add the orange juice and star anise and simmer over low heat, stirring frequently, until the fruit softens and the liquid thickens.
- Scoop the mixture into a bowl, remove the star anise and let cool. (You can prepare this a day ahead, but it will tempt you to sample spoonful after spoonful.)
Assemble the Rolls:
- Place one of the dough balls on a lightly floured surface and roll out into a rectangle - the larger the rectangle the more filling you can use.
- Brush with half of the melted butter. Distribute half of the apple filling evenly over the dough; then scatter half of the pecans on top of the apples.
- Begin with a short side and roll up into a firm cylinder. Press the long edge to seal as you finish. Use floss, thin string or an oiled knife to divide into 6 to 8 pieces.
- Place each piece, cut side down, in a greased baking pan. Leave a little space between each slice; they will rise as they sit and putt even more as they bake.
- Repeat with the second ball of dough.
- Cover; let rise until they lighten and puff to nearly double.
- Bake in a preheated 375 degree F oven until golden brown, and they sound hollow when tapped. (33 minutes in my oven). You may want to cover in foil for part of the baking to avoid over browning.
- Serve warm, plain or drizzled with an orange-flavored simple syrup and dusted with sugar.
- Note: To delay baking or bake in 2 batches, hold the dough in the fridge unfilled or assembled, but let it return to room temperature before continuing.