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Caramel-Apple Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls

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Looking for a super yummy treat for the weekend? This caramel-Apple Sourdough Cinnamon rolls recipe will tickle your taste buds!

Image shows a hand spreading icing on apple cinnamon rolls

Fall is the best time of year for baking. The weather is cooling off, and hey, having the oven on only helps keep the house warm and cozy! 

Not to mention that fall flavors are the best flavors amiright? 

Cinnamon, nutmeg, apples, and pumpkin. The best. 

This caramel apple sourdough cinnamon roll recipe brings two fall classic desserts or caramel apples, and cinnamon rolls together for a home run of a treat. 

Image shows a hand holding an apple cinnamon roll over a white plate

I’m not gonna lie, I have made these rolls by adding a little more flour to basic sourdough sandwich bread dough when I decided to make cinnamon rolls on a whim, but this recipe, which is specific to cinnamon rolls is an added bonus in the flavor and fluffy texture department. 

Don’t worry! it’s just as easy, with just a few extra ingredients. 

Which brings up a point about sourdough baking I want to address. 

Sourdough recipes tend to be long, with multiple steps, and that scares people off. 

Photo shows an iced cinnamon roll on a plate, with slices of apple next to it

But the truth is that while yes, there are a lot of steps (just skip to the recipe below to see them), each step is simple, and can take as little as a minute to complete. 

Do you need to think ahead of time if you want caramel-apple cinnamon rolls for breakfast on Saturday morning? Yes. Is it worth it? Also yes. 

We all know that the opposite of fast food is the best food. 

If you want apples and caramel fast, try gluten-free apple crisp topped with homemade caramel sauce. You won’t be disappointed, and while you’re enjoying that, you can get started on your sourdough. 

Image shows a plate with an apple cinnamon roll and a fork

Caramel-Apple Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls

A couple of tips: 

  • You can usually find caramel bits for baking next to the chocolate chips in grocery store baking aisles. Those are awesome, and easy to use! You can see from the picture above that I couldn’t find them at our local store for this batch, so I used Wether’s Original, cutting them in half so the caramel chunks wouldn’t be too big. They worked like a charm too! 
    Photo shows two packages of Werther's candies on table
  • Rolling up these apple-filled rolls is a little awkward, and you may feel like you have more apples than cinnamon roll, but hang in there! Handle them carefully, and you’ll be alright. As the dough rises and thickens, things will even out, and you will be rewarded with delicious caramel-apple sourdough cinnamon rolls. 
    Photo shows four apple cinnamon rolls on a plate before baking
  • With sourdough baking, you’ve probably hear about hydration percentages relating to bread crumb. Here, we want a lower hydration, which means more flour/sifter dough in order to be able to roll it out. But  you don’t want to overdo it, and get your hydration too low and end up with heavy rolls. Err on the side of hydration too high, keeping in mind that your dough will be easier to handle after if ferments. If it’s still too sticky when it comes time to roll it out, add a bit more flour then. 

And that’s really it! If you’ve made any kind of cinnamon rolls before, or sourdough bread, this recipe will be a piece of cake!

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Caramel-Apple Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls

If you love cinnamon rolls, give this apple cinnamon spin on the recipe a try.

  • Author: Elise

Ingredients

Scale

For the starter:

  • 1/2 cup refrigerated sourdough starter
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup white flour

For the sponge: 

  • Fed starter
  • 1 cup water
  • 11 1/2 cups flour

For the main dough: 

  • Sponge
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 34 cups flour

For the filling: 

  • 23 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1 large apple, cored and chopped
  • 1/2 cup soft caramels in 1/4-1/2 inch pieces

Instructions

To feed the starter:

  1. In the morning, feed your refrigerated sourdough starter with 1/2 cup of warm water, and about 1/2 cup of flour. The consistency should end up being about like pancake batter
  2. Cover loosely, and set at room temperature for 7-10 hours.

To make the sponge:

  1. combine your fed starter in a kitchen aid mixer with another cup of water, and 1 1-/2 cups of flour.
  2. This is a good time to add whole grains if you’re using them. Otherwise just continue using white flour. Your consistency here should be thicker. Sticky, but not pourable like pancake batter. Don’t worry too much about it. Honestly. I know a lot of you ask me to be more specific, but it’s just not that important to weigh your flour and water down to the gram here.
  3. Let your sponge sit, covered on the counter until bed time (2-4 hours), then cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a lid, and refrigerate it overnight. 

To make the dough:

  1. In the morning, pull your sponge out of the fridge and set it on the countertop. You can either start making the dough, or let it sit there to warm up until you’re ready to get to it. 
  2. Using the dough-kneading attachment, turn your kitchen aid on to level 2 and add melted butter, eggs, sugar, and salt. 
  3. Next, start adding flour, a little at a time until a nice bread consistency is reached. You want it to be dry enough so that you’ll be able to roll it out later, but better to be a little soft than too stiff – you can always add more flour later when you’re rolling it out. That said, if you do get it too stiff, add a teaspoon of water. 
  4. Once the flour is added, let knead for 5 minutes. 
  5. Cover, and let rise for 3-6 hours until doubled, or more, in size

To make the rolls:

  1. Combine cinnamon and sugar
  2. Turn dough out onto a floured surface, and knead a few times to shape it into a nice ball
  3. Roll dough into a rectangle about 1/2 inch thick about 8×16 inches
  4. Brush with melted butter
  5. Sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar 
  6. Spread apples evenly over the top, then dot with caramels
    Photo shows layers of cinnamon, apples and dough
  7. Roll long side to long side to form a log
  8. Mark with a knife at 1 1/4 inch intervals and then use the marks to cut into sections. you probably won’t be able to use floss to cut through your rolls because you’ll need to cut through apple chunks. 
  9. Arrange rolls in a greased 9×13 baking pan, flattening them down a little with the palm of your hand as you lay them in (note: at this point, you can cover them, and let rise in the refrigerator overnight to bake for breakfast. Otherwise, carry on as follows)
  10. Allow to rise on the countertop 2-3 hours until doubled in size
  11. Preheat oven to 350º
  12. Place pan of rolls in the center of oven, and bake for 30 minutes until they begin to brown on top
  13. Remove from oven, and remove from pan to a cooling rack or plate to cool (caramel and cinnamon sugar will cool quickly “gluing” your rolls to the pan as they cool)
  14. When rolls have cooled, ice with your favorite icing and serve
  15. Enjoy!

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