What Christmas mornings are meant for
It’s that time of the year again where, if you enjoy cooking as much as I do, you fantasize about spending your days covered in flour or getting your fingers sticky with gooey fruit fillings while baking pretty cookies or warm cakes. I wouldn’t mind having a crowd around all the time to feed them with all the delicious baked goods that the Christmas season inspires.
No doubt that breakfast rolls are one of the most beloved confections within this group. The soft bread hugging a warm and spicy filling, along with a cup of coffee or a glass of cold milk is one of the most anticipated scenes of any Christmas morning.
I love to make my rolls with my mallorca’s dough recipe. Mallorcas are a Puerto Rican bun, custardy thanks to more egg yolks than your regular roll dough. They are so easy to make at home, without any of the artificial coloring or trans fats that you may find in some store bought versions. You have probably read about them already here, when I shared my original Christmas Mallorcas Sticky Buns or my Chocolate Chip Mallorcas.
Now I’m making a new version, filled with a season favorite - apple pie filling! I used two kinds of apples: Honeycrisp for its sweetness and Granny Smith for its tartness. This combination creates a comforting balance of flavors, because the rolls don’t end tasting too sweet. Just let the mixer do the hard work and you just stretch, fill and roll, like a Christmas happy song that will stick to your head for a few days!
1. All ingredients should be at room temperature. I have never been too paranoid about working with room temperature ingredients, especially because who has the time on a Sunday morning to wait that everything reaches room temperature for you to start making waffles? But when making leavened dough, it’s really important to work with room temperature ingredients, unless otherwise indicated by the recipe.
2. Technically the mallorcas can be baked after 1 hour of the second proofing, but I have always preferred to make them the night before and just bake them in the morning, so the recipe and the results are based on overnight proofing.
3. Cut the apple cubes small so they cook evenly and fast.
4. If you feel there’s too much liquid in the pan and the apples are already softened just spread them to the borders and let the liquid in the center evaporate. When it has reduced incorporate again the apple pieces and finish cooking.
5. Cardamom is completely optional, but if you are looking for experimenting with this spice, this is a great recipe to start.
6. You may do a simple confectioners sugar glace, as the one I did in the picture, but I remember later about this delicious maple glace I made once and the combinations is spectacular! I included the recipe at the end.
Mallorca sticky buns
8 to 10 rolls
Total time – 45 minutes plus overnight time in the fridgeActive time – 5 minutes for prepping the ingredients and the filling, 15 to minutes for rolling the dough and making the rolls Equipment – Stand mixer with the hook attachment, 8” or 9” square or round pan, measuring cups, rolling pin
Instant yeast – 1 envelope
Unbleached all purpose flour – 2 ½ cups
Raw sugar – 3 TBSP
Egg yolks (organic if possible), room temperature – 4
Full fat coconut milk, room temperature – ½ cup
Fine sea salt – 1 Tsp + 1 pinch
Unsalted butter (organic if possible), softened and in pieces – 10 TBSP
Place the instant yeast and the flour in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook and mix from 30 seconds to 1 minute to distribute the yeast evenly. Add the sugar, egg yolks, salt and coconut milk and mix in low speed (#2 in the Kitchenaid mixer) and mix for 1 minute. Add the butter a few pieces at a time, incorporating each addition before adding more. Continue kneading for 24 minutes, until you see the dough appears even in texture and has a muted yellow color (total time should be 25 minutes approximately and at the end the dough should have a nice yeast smell). Stop the mixer and push the dough off the hook. Using your hands fold just enough to form a ball and press very gently. Transfer to a deep large bowl, cover it with plastic paper and then cover the entire bowl with a thick towel or throw blanket. Let it rest and grow for 1½ hour in a warm place, until it has doubled in size (I wrap my bowl in a throw blanket and place it in a corner of a warm room). In the meantime you can make the filling.
Apple pie filling
Granny smith apples, cubbed in ¼” - 2
Honeycrisp apples, cubbed in ¼” – 2
Apple juice (preferably) or water – 2 TBSP
Brown sugar – ½ cup + 1 TBSP
Ground cinnamon – 1½ Tsp
Ground nutmeg – 1 Tsp
Ground cardamom – ½ Tsp (optional)
Fine sea salt – 1 pinch
Unsalted butter, softened – 6 TBSP
Unbleached flour – 4 TBSP
In a medium skillet combine the apples, apple juice and sugar and heat over medium high heat. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, tossing frequently, until the apples become soft and the liquid has almost evaporated. If there is excess of liquid just spread the apples to the borders of the pan and let most of the liquid evaporate before reincorporating the apples. Add the cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom (if using) and salt and cook 5 minutes more. Retire from heat and let it cool.
After cooling down transfer to a medium bowl and mix in the flour, then mix with the butter. Set aside until ready to fill the dough.
To assemble the rolls
Prepare baking pan by greasing it with some butter or covering the bottom with parchment paper.
Remove the plastic paper cover from the dough bowl and deflate the dough by softly punching it one time. Transfer to a super clean flat surface dusted with some flour (also dust your rolling pin with some flour as well), then start stretching it with a rolling pin until you get an approximately 14” x 12” rectangle and the dough is about ⅛” thick(the longer side should be horizontally in front of you). Using a pizza cutter or a sharp knife cut the borders to make the rectangle edges straight.
Spread the filling evenly through the dough, leaving the edges clear. Starting from the long side in front of you, pull up the dough and roll in, making sure it has a uniform rounded shape left to right, then continue rolling until the complete stripe is folded. Pinch the seam with your fingers to close it, then with a sharp knife cut 1½” rolls. Arrange the rolls in the pan, leaving about ¼” of space between them. Cover the pan and let the rolls rest overnight in the fridge.
When ready to bake, place a medium sized pan (the shape doesn’t matter) with very hot water in the lower rack of the oven. Remove plastic from the roll’s pan and immediately place them in the oven and close the oven door. Let them grow for 30 minutes, then remove the rolls and preheat oven in 350°. When oven is properly heated, remove the pan with water and place the rolls back in. Bake for 25 minutes, until the dough seems dry and has a nice golden brown color on top. Take them out of the oven and let them cool down for a few minutes, them remove from pan. Pour over the glace (recipe follows).
Maple cinnamon glaze
Unsalted butter - 4 tablespoons
Maple syrup - ½ cup
Ground cinnamon - ¼ teaspoon
Confectioner’s sugar, sifted - 1 cup
In a small saucepan melt the butter with the maple syrup over moderate heat. Cook for 1 minute after it starts soft boiling. Mix in the cinnamon and then retire form heat. Add the sugar by intervals, whisking after each addition until it has dissolved. Let the glaze cool down for a minute, then pour over the rolls. Reserve a couple of tablespoons to pour more when ready to serve or if it gets too dry after a while.
Never forget what Christmas mornings are meant for!