>Apple Raisin Cinnamon Rolls


Before I had children, I didn’t really understand or contemplate the weight of the responsibility that comes with bringing a person into this world.  
It’s heavy, that weight.  When you consider the value of that life – the precious, irreplaceable worth of that life – it can be overwhelming.  
And to know that you have the responsibility, the privilege of nurturing and helping to shape that tiny little person, it’s a true gift.  But it’s also daunting.  
First, there’s just the state of our world today.  I’m a fairly optimistic person, and I know in my heart that there’s still a lot of good to be found in people; however, there are also a lot of terrible things that happen every day.  Between natural disasters, cruel dictators, unstable economies, social atrocities, and rising fuel and food prices, it is an especially worrisome time in history.  Raising healthy, responsible and conscientious children who will become productive members of tomorrow’s society is beyond important.   
All of the decisions you’re faced with: To vaccinate, not to vaccinate?  Breast milk or formula?  When to start solids, when to wean?  Organic or conventional?  Processed or natural?  Public school, private school?  Soccer or baseball?  Ballet or Gymnastics?  How to discipline? When to discipline? The list goes on and on, and I don’t think it ends until they’re out on their own.  Even then, I think you still have a sense of moral responsibility toward them.
And all you can do is hope that the research that you’ve done is good enough.  Because there’s so much information out there, it’s hard to know who to trust.  When all you want is a straight answer, someone to be honest with you, it seems that all you get is propaganda and marketing strategy. 
One of decisions I’ve made in an effort to sidestep that propaganda is to try to make as much of our food as I can as traditionally as possible.  Before there were multinational food corporations, there were home cooks.  Before food production was reduced to a series of mechanical steps designed to maximize output and minimize cost, there were gardens and mason jars and summer canning marathons.  Before Tyson cornered the market on chicken, there were people raising flocks in their farmyards, sending their children out in the wee hours of the morning to gather eggs for breakfast. 
For me, it began with wanting to make baby food for my boys when they first started solids.  I wanted to know exactly what was in the first foods I was putting in their little bodies.  As they aged, though, I found myself slipping back into old habits, falling back on convenience foods out of laziness or what I perceived as a lack of time.  But the more I thought about those precious boys and their futures, the more the gravity of that responsibility bore down on me.  And with that weight came a drive to change the way they (and we) perceived food. 
For years now, I’ve been cooking most of our meals from scratch – making pasta sauce, peanut butter, jams and jellies, even curing meats and making sausages.  More recently I delved into natural fermentation, making sauerkraut last summer.  One of the things I had dabbled in, but had never taken all the way, was baking bread.  I would do it occasionally, always using store-bought whole-wheat flour in place of the all-purpose that most of the recipes called for.  I made passable loaves of sandwich bread, decent biscuits and pretty good english muffins. But I still bought bread at the store.

My husband and 5-year-old son take a sandwich every day for lunch.  Every day.  That means every day they were consuming store-bought bread.  And I bought the highest fiber bread I could find (because we believe in the value of fiber in the diet, just being honest).  But it was still chock full of all kinds of unnecessary ingredients – the list on the package was a mile long.  After spending half of a Saturday in a bread baking class with Troye of For the Joy of Food, I took the plunge and started baking all of our bread using freshly milled grains.

I learned so much from Troye’s class, but the main point that she made, and the thing that really pushed me over the edge, was that flour made from freshly milled grains is one of the most healthful foods you can eat.  It is replete with vitamin E, B-complex vitamins, folic acid, fiber and protein.  Commercially processed flours have had 90% of the beneficial vitamins and oils removed to increase shelf life.  The parts of the grain that contain most of the nutrients are the bran (the outer layer) and the germ (the most inner layer), and both of these layers are highly perishable (they begin to oxidize within 12 hours of being milled, and are typically rancid after 72 hours).  Therefore, to increase shelf life, commercial flour producers remove the bran and germ from the milled product and “enrich” the flour with a few vitamins and minerals. What you end up with, even in the whole-wheat versions, is almost an imitation of what real flour made from real grains can be.

So I purchased a countertop grain mill, and now I’m baking bread regularly – typically four sandwich loaves at the time.  And I mill flour only when I need it – for pancakes, for biscuits, for pasta, for english muffins.  For bread, I use a mixture of hard red wheat, hard white wheat, and recently have added kamut to the mix.  For biscuits, I use soft-white wheat, and I grind it extra fine. 

For these cinnamon rolls, I used my regular bread recipe, and them stuffed them full of butter, sucanat, cinnamon, raisins and dried apples.  Drizzled with a glaze of apple juice, sugar, butter and cream (yum), they were a huge hit with the boys.

The recipe makes two pans of seven rolls each, so 14 in all.  While it does contain a lot of sugar, I used honey, honey granules and sucanat, so they were relatively nutrient-dense sugars. And I feel good knowing exactly what’s in there and where it came from. 

For a printable version of this recipe, click here.

Apple Raisin Cinnamon Rolls
prep time: 15-20 minutes
rise time: 1 hour
bake time: 20 minutes
yield: 14 cinnamon rolls
For the rolls
1/4 cup warm water
1 Tablespoon honey
1 Tablespoon active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups hot water
2 Tablespoons butter
1/3 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
5-6 cups of whole-wheat flour
For the filling
1 stick butter, melted
1/4 cup sucanat
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
 1/2 cup raisins
1 1/2 cup dehydrated apple
For the glaze
6 oz. organic apple juice
1 cup honey granules
2 Tablespoons heavy cream
1 Tablespoon cornstarch (optional)
2 Tablespoons butter
  1. Combine 1/4 cup warm water, 1 Tablespoon honey and 1 Tablespoon yeast in a bowl and set aside to proof.
  2. In the bowl of your electric mixer, combine 1 1/2 cups hot water, 2 Tablespoons butter, 1/3 cup honey, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 3 cups of flour.
  3. Turn the mixer on medium and add the yeast mixture.  Allow to run until ingredients are fully incorporated.  Scrape down the sides if necessary.
  4. While mixer is running, add another cup of flour and let it get mixed in.  Continue adding flour until dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl.  
  5. When dough has formed a ball and is cleaning the sides of the bowl, allow the mixer to run for 12 minutes to knead the dough.
  6. Turn your oven light on.  After 12 minutes, remove bowl from the mixer and cover with a damp towel.  Place it in the oven with the light on and let it sit for an hour until doubled in size.
  7. This was when I dehydrated my apples in my dehydrator, but you could use store-bought dried apples
  8. Once dough has doubled in bulk, turn it out onto a floured surface and knead it a few times.  Form a rectangle and roll it out to 1/2 inch thickness.
  9. Prepare two nine-inch round cake pans by buttering them.
  10. Brush the surface of the dough with the melted butter, sprinkle with sucanat and cinnamon and distribute the apples and raisins evenly over the entire area.
  11. Begin rolling one of the long ends, forming a log.  Pinch the seam to seal.
  12. Slice into 1-inch rounds and place them in the prepared pans, allowing room for them to increase in size (I fit seven per pan).
  13. Set the pans aside, covered with a damp cloth, while you preheat your oven to 350.
  14. Once oven has preheated, place the pans on a rack in the center and allow to bake for 20 minutes, or until brown and bubbly.
  15. While baking, prepare the glaze.
  16. Combine apple juice and honey granules in a sauce pan and cook over medium heat until honey granules have dissolved.  Bring to a boil.  Make a slurry with the cream and cornstarch and add to the boiling mixture.  Stir to combine.  Once it has thickened, add the butter and removed from the heat.  Stir to combine the butter as it melts.
  17. Remove the cinnamon rolls from the oven and pour the glaze over them while they are hot.
  18. Serve warm.
  19. Enjoy!

15 thoughts on “>Apple Raisin Cinnamon Rolls

  1. >I think making our own bread was the best decision we've made all year! These cinnamon rolls sound absolutely delicious and I would definitely love to have these for breakfast soon!

  2. >What an interesting post! I relate to your story on many levels however thanks for the wonderful insight into wholegrain flours and their "shelf life"! I had been patting myself on my back thinking I was giving my kids wonderful nutrition by using store bought wholegrain flours in my breads. Definitely checking out the grain mill. Thanks again. katatethat.com

  3. >Thanks all – I have to say they are quite delicious. I had a leftover one for breakfast this morning, and it was sooo good.@Kat – I know what you mean. All this time, I thought I was doing something so good by subbing store-bought whole-wheat flour in my baked goods. It's so hard to know what the best thing is. I have to say that the freshly milled grains, while extra work, are so flavorful and the bread I bake with that flour is so much lighter and moister than what I used to bake.

  4. >Thanks again, I'm so intrigued. I guess I'll work my way through the batch of flours I have and then look into the mill. I really love your blog. Just found it recently, but your ethos seems very similar to mine. I'll be checking in regularly. Katriona

  5. >I think your efforts to keep healthy ingredients in your home is awesome and I give you kudos for it. I am sure your family will be/is very grateful for your work. On a side note (as a manager of a comic book store) I want to clap because both pics of your kids has them in comic related outfits. Go comics! (sorry!!) And lastly, these cinnamon rolls look delicious!

  6. >@kita – that cracks me up! all of my boys (husband included) are fans of the comic-related genres. superheroes abound in our house! as for the grateful family – they certainly enjoy the eating of the fruits of my labor, but i'm not sure they truly understand it yet. one day, i'm sure it will pay off.@kat – Thank you so much. I clicked over to your blog as well (haven't had time to truly give it the time it deserves, but i will) and it looks like we have a lot in common. Also – I'm totally in love with the fact that you're originally from Northern Ireland – I've always wanted to travel there, but haven't yet had the chance:-). Looking forward to getting to know you better through your blog!

  7. >Wow! I had no idea that the store bought flours were processed in that way. I thought by using the King Arthur brand I was doing pretty well. We have talked about getting a mill, so this is extra motivation to do so. I'm curious why you decided on a countertop mill. I've been considering getting the grain mill attachment for my KitchenAid mixer, so I wondered if you had done any research on that. Thanks again for the information-and the recipe for whole grain cinnamon rolls looks great!

  8. >Hi, me again 🙂 I was also wondering if you have a resource for the hard white spring wheat berries (for white whole wheat flour) or other grains that you mill. We have a Sprouts grocery store and also Central Market that sells some things in bulk, but if you know of a good online resource or mail-order that would be great-thank you!

  9. >@M. Garcia: When I first started looking, I wondered about the Kitchenaid attachment. After doing some research, I decided on the countertop model. It can grind twice as much flour at the time, and it keeps it contained in a closed container (which is good, because it flies everywhere). It also has variable speed and can be adjusted from very coarse to very fine. The one drawback is that it is extremely loud, but it's fast. I'm sure the Kitchenaid attachment does a fine job, though, and it's about half the price – I just haven't tried it to know for sure.I'm fortunate to have a source for whole wheat berries close to home – they have a variety of different wheats and other grains available for purchase. I believe they ship, but I imagine it could get quite expensive. Their website is: http://www.breadbeckers.com. Based on your reference to Sprouts grocery, I guess you're either in Texas or somewhere west of there. I think there's a source in Oregon called Azure Standard (based on another commenter's information a while ago) that ships.

  10. >It's seriously like you read my mind with this post…I truly believe that cooking from scratch and raising as much food as you can is really the best way to go…I only hope to do more when I have children! I haven't tried milling my own grain but it's definitely something to think about! Beautiful cinnamon rolls..I love the glaze rather than the traditional cream cheese!

  11. >These sound so great! I love, love, love this post, and I am thrilled that you are enjoying the wonderful world of fresh ground grains!As a side note, I often make a batch of cinnamon rolls when I make my 4 loaf recipe for bread. I just make three loaves of bread and 1 pan of cinnamon rolls. Also to @M. Garcia- there are 2 "issues" with the KA attachment. The first, as Niki said, is that you will have a hard time grinding the flour to a consistency that is appropriate for making bread. The second, and probably larger issue, is that grinding whole grains is a taxing business. It will put a lot of excess strain on your KA motor. You really don't want to lose both your mixer and grinder in one fell swoop. That is just my two cents worth

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