Cinnamon Apple Kolaches – Fluffy sweet rolls are topped with cinnamon apples, baked to perfection, and finished with sweet icing.
Fall is here and the baking is ramping up. I am so excited to make this house smell like deliciousness each weekend. Bring on all the pumpkin, sweet potato, cinnamon, and apple treats!
My first treat of the season is these Cinnamon Apple Kolaches! Kolaches are like Danishes but with a yeast-based dough for the base instead of a flaky butter-based dough. For that reason, I find them a little easier to make but still so tasty.
One of bite of these kolaches and your tummy will sigh with comfort. Cinnamon apples have that effect.
Making these kolaches involves a few major steps:
- Making the dough
- Cooking the apples
- Baking the kolaches
- Drizzling with icing
Making the dough
The dough for these kolaches is a very simple sweet dough. It differs slightly from other doughs we’ve made together because it has a little extra butter to make it perfectly rich. It’s similar to brioche, except the butter used is melted. In brioche, the butter is slightly softened. Also, unlike brioche, the dough is made the same day you need it, whereas brioche is made the night before to let it rise in the refrigerator overnight.
After the dough is formed in the mixer, it’s kneaded until soft and smooth. Then it rests to rise for about 1.5 hours.
Once risen, the dough is formed into even balls and they rise again for another 1.5 hours. We don’t shape the kolaches until after the second rise. While we wait, let’s make the apples.
Cooking the apples
The apple filling is cooked slightly before we add to the dough. This ensures that the apples aren’t crunchy after they are done baking in the kolaches. Apples are super firm so they take lots of time to cook down – that’s why apple pie takes so long to bake in the oven!
However, the kolaches only need about 25 minutes until the dough is cooked-through. Therefore, we gotta jump-start the cooking process for those apples so they are perfectly soft after baking in the kolaches.
To cook the apples, they’re diced and placed in a saute pan with some butter. They’re cooked for about 8 minutes over medium heat. Once they are cooked, the heat is turned off and the sugar, cinnamon sugar, salt, and nutmeg are mixed in.
Once the dough balls have risen, a well is pressed into the center of each dough ball and then cooked apples are placed into each well.
Baking the kolaches
Before the kolaches are baked, the edges are brushed with an egg wash, which serves to give the kolaches a beautiful shine and color AND it serves as a glue to hold onto the streusel topping. The streusel is made from simply mixing cold butter with flour and sugar. It should look and feel like sand. It’s then sprinkled over the egg wash-brushed kolaches. The kolaches are baked for 25 minutes in the oven.
Drizzling with icing
Once the kolaches are done baking, they’re removed from the oven to cool for 15 minutes. Since the filling is mostly apples and not a lot of sugar, we need a little icing on top to bring on the sweetness. The icing is super simple – just powdered sugar and cream. It gets beautifully drizzled over the top.
Tips & Tricks
- Make sure the melted butter and scalded milk have cooled down slightly before adding to the flour and eggs. Otherwise, you could end up scrambling the eggs and ruining the dough.
- Do not skimp on the kneading of the dough. This process is so important for developing the fluffy texture of the dough. If you don’t knead enough, you risk the dough being stiff and flat.
- To ensure the balls are all the same size, you can use a scale to weigh them out. Simply weigh the dough before cutting it and then divide by 16 to determine how much each ball should weigh.
- When dicing the apples, make sure they’re pretty small so they can fit into the dough easily without spilling out.
Cinnamon Apple Kolaches
For the dough:
- 1 cup scalded milk
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 package instant yeast (2¼ teaspoons)
- 10 tablespoons butter unsalted, melted
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 large egg
For the filling:
- 3 large granny smith apples diced in small pieces
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ⅔ cup powdered sugar
- 1-2 tablespoons heavy cream
For the streusel:
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 large egg
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoons butter cut into 8 pieces, chilled
- First we will begin making the dough. Heat up milk in a small sauce pan until it begins to simmer. Remove from heat and add sugar and salt and stir. Let it cool down to lukewarm to the touch. Once milk is cool, add to a bowl of a stand mixer, along with 3 ½ cups of the flour, melted butter, egg, egg yolks, and yeast. Attach the dough hook to the stand mixer and mix on low until dough forms. Increase speed to medium and knead dough until it's smooth and no longer sticks to the sides, about 10 minutes. If the dough is sticking for a while, add more dough until it only sticks to the bottom.
- Place a couple tablespoons of flour on the surface of your counter. Place dough on top of it and begin kneading the dough. Keep kneading for about 30 seconds until the dough is smooth and elastic. Once you finish kneading, shape into a ball. Lightly grease another large bowl and place the ball of dough into bowl. Cover with a kitchen towel and let it rise for 1.5 hours.
- Prepare two baking sheets by lining with parchment paper. Once dough has risen, punch it down with your fist and remove from the bowl. Lightly dust your counter with flour and place the dough on top. Form into a disk. Cut dough into 4 even slices. Cut each slice into 4 even pieces. You should have 16 even pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a ball and place on a baking sheet with parchment paper. Make sure to space the balls a couple inches apart and only 8 balls per baking sheet. Cover each baking sheet with a damp rag and let them rise until fluffy, about 1.5 hours.
- While the dough is rising, prepare the apples. Place 2 tablespoons of butter into a large skillet and over medium heat . Once it's melted, add diced apples and cook until slightly softened, about 8 minutes. Turn off heat. Add sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Stir together until combined. Set aside.
- Prepare the streusel. Add 3 tablespoons each of flour and sugar to a small bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of cold diced butter to mixture and mix together with your fingers until the mixture resembles sand. Place in refrigerator to keep cold.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Make sure both oven racks are placed in the center of the oven. Once the balls have puffed up, remove the rag that covers them. Grab a 1/3-cup measuring cup and dip into flour. Then use it to smash the center of each ball of dough to create a well in the center. Redip the cup in flour if it starts to stick to the dough. Fill each well with about 3 tablespoons of cooked apples.
- Brush the exposed edges of the kolaches with egg wash. To make the egg wash, whisk egg with 1 tablespoon of water. Sprinkle with chilled streusel.
- Bake both sheets of kolaches in preheated oven until they are golden brown on the edges, about 25 minutes. Make sure to switch and rotate baking sheets halfway to ensure even baking.
- Remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes. Then, make icing by mixing powdered sugar and cream together. Drizzle over kolaches. Serve immediately or within 24 hours.