(adapted from Bake From Scratch and The Fleischmann Treasury of Yeast Baking)
makes one dozen generous servings
Prepare the dough-
¼ cup warm water (100 to 110 degrees F)
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 large eggs, room temperature, beaten with a fork
1 cup whole milk (do not substitute lowfat)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
4½ cups bread flour
In a medium bowl, combine the warm water, yeast, and 1 teaspoon of sugar. Let the mixture stand for 5 minutes to proof; the yeast will dissolve and become foamy.
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until creamy. Gradually add the sugar and the salt, mixing until fluffy. Add the eggs, mixing to blend, then slowly add the milk and lemon juice. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Stir in the yeast mixture. Gradually add the flour to the butter mixture, beating on low speed until thoroughly combined. Continue beating the dough on low speed for an additional five minutes. (If you do not have a heavy duty stand mixer, you will have to turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it by hand.)
After the dough has been kneaded, place it in a well-buttered large mixing bowl; turn the dough so it is lightly coated with butter. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place, until doubled in bulk, about 90 minutes.
Prepare the filling-
2½ cups of chopped apples (2-3 Honeycrisp, Macoun or Pippin)
2 teaspoons lemon juice
½ cup dark brown sugar
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature and spreadable
Rinse, peel, and core the apples; chop them into ¼” pieces and toss with the lemon juice. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside while you roll out the dough. Lightly butter two-9” cast iron skillets.
Gently punch down the risen dough. On a lightly floured surface, turn out the dough and use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a rectangle, 12” x 18”. Use a ruler or a bench scraper to straighten the edges of the dough. Use an offset spatula to spread the softened butter evenly over the dough, then sprinkle the brown sugar/spice mixture over the butter. Top the butter and sugar/spices evenly with the walnuts and then with the apple pieces. Starting with the long side, roll up the dough jellyroll style, easing the roll with your fingers to keep it an even thickness. Pinch the edges closed. Mark the jellyroll with a small paring knife in 1½” widths; this will give you 12 pieces. The easiest way to divide the roll is to use a long piece of dental floss; guide it beneath the jellyroll, bring it up and cross it, pulling the floss to slice through the dough. Divide the pieces of dough evenly between the two skillets. (If you only have one cast iron skillet, you can bake the remaining 6 portions of dough in a 9”x 1¾” round baking pan.) Cover the skillets with clean kitchen towels and let the dough rise for about 40 minutes, until the buns have doubled in size. About 15 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the cast iron skillets in the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, until golden. Set on top of a stovetop or on cooling racks to cool.
Prepare the cider caramel-
1 cup fresh pressed apple cider
1 cup dark brown sugar
½ cup butter
¼ cup heavy cream
In a heavy bottomed 3qt. stockpot, cook cider over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it has reduced to ¼ cup. Add the brown sugar and butter, stirring to combine. Gradually add the heavy cream and bring the mixture to a boil over medium high heat. Cook, stirring constantly for 2-3 minutes until the caramel thickens slightly. Remove from the heat and transfer to a heatproof bowl. Cool to room temperature before drizzling over the morning buns.