Header image of a couple of cardamom apple butter cinnamon rolls with goat cheese frosting on plates. There's also apple slices, cardamom pods and cinnamon sticks strewn about.

Cardamom Apple Butter Cinnamon Rolls

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Ben here! Last Fall, I was a new parent who’d been under lockdown for half a year. It was cold. I was sleepless. I was binging the Great British Bake Off and seeking any other form of comfort. And thus, I went baking crazy. Like, bulging cabinets full of obscure spices and flours crazy. Our breadbox runneth over. I bought a bottle of cherry liqueur that I used precisely once for a loaf of sweet bread. Then I imported a special pan for British puddings. I reeked of cardamom at all times. All that to say, I way overdid it and swore that next Fall I’d take it easy. And folks, I broke that promise pretty much instantly, starting with these cinnamon rolls.

When Kirby told me she was gonna make apple butter out of our apple picking bounty this year, my brain started working. I’ve been our home’s defacto cinnamon roll provider for ages and had been looking for an excuse to mix things up. The path was set — I was gonna take the apple butter and turn it into cinnamon roll 2.0. Specifically cardamom apple butter cinnamon rolls with goat cheese frosting. It worked. These things are good as hell and pretty easy to bake.

A note on apple butter

The only thing you need to prep ahead of time is the apple butter. You can find our apple butter recipe here. Alternately you can buy some at the store or use the recipe of your choosing. Your call!

And without further ado, here’s how to make ’em:

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Cardamom Apple Butter Cinnamon Rolls

Servings 12 rolls

Ingredients

Dough

  • 1 packet active dry yeast
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup plus one tsp sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup butter softened
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom

Filling

  • 1/3 cup apple butter
  • 1/3 cup butter softened
  • 2 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp cardamom
  • 1/2 cup apples diced
  • 1/2 cup walnuts chopped

Frosting

  • 6 oz goat cheese room temperature
  • 3 tbsp butter room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups powdered sugar

Instructions

Dough

  • Warm your milk to just above room temperature (not too hot!), then dissolve active dry yeast packet inside. Add a tsp of sugar and wait five minutes for it to get frothy.
  • Add sugar, salt, cardamom, and flour to your mixer's bowl. Mix, then add eggs and room-temp or melted butter.
  • Pour the frothy yeast-milk into the mixing bowl, then knead with a dough hook until the dough comes together and comes clean off the sides of the bowl.
  • Move the dough to a separate, greased bowl and cover with a kitchen towel or foil. Leave to prove until doubled in size, about one hour.

Filling

  • Mix the cinnamon, cardamom, brown sugar, dices apples, and chopped walnuts together in a bowl.
  • Let butter come to room temp or melt it in the microwave.
  • Set aside the butter, apple butter, and sugar-spice mixture so it's ready to spread(y) when the dough is done rising.

Assembly

  • Grease a 9×13 inch baking pan with (even more) butter.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Once dough has doubled in size, drop it onto a lightly-floured surface. Roll it out into a rectangle about 12×16 inches and a 1/4 inch thick. Ideally the long side of the rectangle is closest to you.
  • Spread the softened butter over the surface of the dough, almost to the edges.
  • Spread the apple butter over this (it's gonna get messy and mix together, that's fine).
  • Finally, sprinkle the sugar-spice-apple-walnut mixture evenly over the apple butter. You want it to almost reach the edges of the dough, but be careful not to get too close so none of your apples or walnuts spill out of your rolls and burn in the oven.
  • Reach up to the far end of your rectangle and delicately roll the long side down as tightly as you can. Once you're done rolling towards yourself, you should have a nice, long, hefty dough log stuffed with a lovely spiral of filling.
  • Using whatever tool you feel most comfortable with (I use a bench knife, some folks prefer dental floss), cut the dough log into 12 slices, each about 1 1/2 inches thick.
  • Carefully place each roll into the greased pan. Space them out as much as you can, but don't stress about it too much. They're supposed to be crowded.
  • Cover with a kitchen towel and let rest until doubled in size, again — this should take around 30 minutes.
  • Pop into the oven until golden brown on top, about 20 to 30 minutes (this can vary greatly so just keep an eye out). It's a bit tricky because the filling can spill out and make the rolls look browner than they really are. Just pull the pan out to get a good look after twenty minutes and try to keep tabs.

Frosting

  • While the rolls are in the oven, add room temperature goat cheese and room temperature butter to your mixer's bowl. Beat together on medium until smooth.
  • Add vanilla and keep going until well-mixed.
  • Gradually add powdered sugar until fluffy.

Grand Finale

  • Frost the rolls while they're still warm in the pan. Eat immediately, and then for breakfast for the next several days.

Now I know this recipe seems like a lot, and it is a bit of an undertaking. But it’s also easier than you’re probably imagining. And these cardamom apple butter cinnamon rolls are 100% worth it.

If you’re looking for more autumn baking recipes, try this decadent fig upside down cake or these mini gingerbread bundt cakes with cranberry cream cheese glaze. Or if you’re specifically looking for an apple recipe, this miso caramel dutch apple pie is everything.

As always, if you enjoy this, let me know in the comments or on Instagram!

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