Baking Beyond the Roll

I love baking and I love cinnamon rolls, but I don't love baking cinnamon rolls. What to do? Concoct an Apple Cinnamon Roll Cake that blends the best features of cinnamon rolls with the season's finest apples and a recipe that takes a few minutes to assemble and leave your home smelling wonderful:

The key to getting the right texture to this cake is putting together two batters. The first is reminiscent of the pastry in cinnamon rolls and the second is much like the cinnamon filling, but chock full of diced cinnamon apples! Once the entire thing spends about an hour in the oven, it gets a simple powdered sugar glaze that will complete the cake and have you loving the idea of being able to enjoy a slice of apple cinnamon roll with your favorite coffee or tea.

I used MacIntosh apples because they were sent home with me on a recent trip to visit my parents in northern Wisconsin. You can use any kind of semi-soft cooking apple. A good rule of thumb is: if you'd make applesauce with them, they will work well in the recipe. In fact, the applesauce I used for the first cake batter was made with some of the same apples as the ones included in the second cake batter! You could use 1/2 cup of canola oil and omit the applesauce, but I thought it was a nice touch and helped amp up the fruity aspect of this fun dessert.

Apple Cinnamon Roll Cake

For the first batter:
  • 3 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. granulated sugar
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 1/4 c. skim milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 c. canola oil
  • 1/4 c. applesauce
For the second batter:
  • 2 MacIntosh or other semi-soft cooking apples, peeled and diced
  • 2 T. cinnamon sugar
  • 1 c. butter, softened
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 2 T. all-purpose flour
  • 1 T. ground cinnamon
For the glaze:
  • 2 c. powdered sugar
  • 5 T. skim milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350° F. In a mixing bowl, combine the ingredients for the first batter and stir well to combine. Pour into a greased 9 x 13-inch baking pan and set aside.

To make the second batter, combine the apples and the cinnamon sugar (made by combining your desired ratio of sugar and cinnamon -- I like 4:1) in a small bowl. In the bowl you used to mix the first batter, beat the butter, brown sugar, all-purpose flour, and cinnamon. Stir in the cinnamon apples and then drop the batter in spoonfuls on top of the first batter in the baking pan. Using a butter knife, swirl the batters together.

Place the baking pan in the preheated oven and bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out nearly clean.

While the cake bakes, mix the glaze ingredients well until all of the lumps are removed and set aside to be used later. After the cake is done baking and removed from oven, allow it to cool for a few minutes before pouring the glaze over the cake.

  • Yields: 24 servings
  • Preparation Time: 80 minutes

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