Apple Cinnamon Apple Buns are buns shaped like apples and filled with a delicious, homemade apple jam filling.

I have apples on my mind. It’s Fall and the abundance of apples at the market make we want to just bake up a storm. There is nothing like baking with apples! I came across a recipe for apple buns that looked like apples and I just new I had to make them. They are the cutest darned buns!

Now admittedly, these buns look a lot more apple-like in the muffin tins than out of them, so I’m storing them in the tins, to enjoy their cuteness until I eat them.

The dough for these buns is made with a really interesting water-roux technique, that was popularized in China and is reputed to produce soft, fluffy bread that stays fresh longer. I’d been anxious to try this dough making technique and it didn’t disappoint. It was easy and delicious.

apple buns

Cook’s Notes for Apple Cinnamon Apple Buns

The bread is indeed soft and fluffy, as promised. I’ll have to report back on how long they stay fresh. (Update, they stayed nice and fresh into the 3rd day. I froze a few as well, thawed them and they were still nice). These buns are best enjoyed a little warm. About 10 seconds in the microwave will do the trick to re-heat them. If you like, you could also dust them with a little powdered sugar before serving. If you’re the adventurous type, I might suggest that a bit of aged cheddar inside would be a fabulous variation. (I’ll be trying that next, myself!)

Apple Filled Apple Buns

Apple Cinnamon "Apple" Buns

Don’t be intimidated by the long instructions. I’ve just tried to include lots of detail. If you can make bread, you can make these, no problem! If you have some apple preserves around, you can use those for filling these buns instead of the filling below. And finally, if you have a scale, I recommend using the gram measurements for greater accuracy.

For the Dough:

  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 1/2 Tbsp milk powder
  • 5 Tbsp white sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 tsp. instant dry yeast
  • 1 egg (lightly beaten)
  • 2/3 cup lukewarm water
  • 3 Tbsp butter (cubed)
  • 1 large egg (lightly beaten, for egg wash before baking)
  • Cinnamon sticks (3-4, depending on length)

For the water roux:

  • 2 Tbsp bread flour (scant 2 Tbsp)
  • 1/2 cup water (1/2 cup)

For the apple filling:

  • 3 cups diced apples (your favourite cooking apple – I used Spartan, but Spy or Idared are other good choices, peeled and diced into 1/2-3/4 inch cubes)
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar (packed)
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 4 Tbsp. butter
  1. For the dough: Start by making the water roux. In a small saucepan, add the scant 2 Tbsp. of flour and 1/2 cup of water. Stir to combine. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring continuously until it reaches 65° C (150° F). It should have thickened to a paste at this stage, so that when you stir you can see the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat, place a piece of plastic wrap over the paste and allow it to cool at room temperature until lukewarm before adding to dough. (If you don’t have a thermometer, cook the mixture until it starts to thicken, then continue to cook for about 1 more minute before removing from heat.)

  2. While the roux is cooling, combine the bread flour, all-purpose flour, milk powder, white sugar and yeast into a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the lightly beaten egg and lukewarm water roux and mix in. Gradually add just enough of the 150 ml. (2/3 cup) of lukewarm water to form into a slightly sticky, soft dough. (Mine took all 150ml) Knead for 10 minutes by hand or about 5 with the mixer until smooth and elastic, but slightly sticky. If hand kneading, the dough is a bit sticky, so it needs to be thrown onto the working surface once every few minutes between kneading to improve the dough structure. In the mixer, allow the dough to knead a few minutes before adding any additional water or flour. My dough seemed really sticky but after a few minutes of kneading in the mixer, it came together nicely.
  3. Knead in the butter into the dough until incorporated. (In my mixer, the butter cubes had a habit of riding up the side of the bowl. I just stopped the mixer every so often and moved them down onto the dough). Once all the butter has been incorporated, remove the dough from the bowl and form into a round ball. Place into a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let it rise until doubled in size (about 1 hour).
  4. While the dough is rising, now is the time to make your apple filling (if you don’t have apple preserves on hand).
  5. For the apple filling: Peel and dice your apples and place into a saucepan or microwavable bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir to combine. If using the microwave, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and microwave on high for 1 1/2 minutes. Remove and stir. Test taste a piece of apple. You’ll want the apples to be cooked as they won’t cook much more in the buns. If they’re still hard, microwave for another 1 1/2 minutes and test again. Repeat as needed until the apples are tender. The timing here is a little loose, since different apples will take different amounts of time to soften. Once your apples are tender, leave them in the bowl covered with plastic wrap to cool at room temperature while the bread rises.
  6. Prepare your cinnamon sticks for the “stems” by cutting each stick in half lengthwise (Do be careful here. I just laid the knife along the cavity in the middle and gave the top of the knife a rap. Do be sure to keep your fingers out the way! Once halved, break the pieces into 1 1/2-inch lengths, until you have 16 pieces. Set aside.
  7. For forming the buns: Once your dough has doubled, remove the it to a lightly floured work surface. Knead briefly and form into a ball shape. Divide the dough ball into 16 roughly equal portions. The easiest way is to first divide equally into 4 larger portions first, then divide each of these again into quarters each. Form each piece into balls and let rest for 10 minutes.
  8. Grease 16 regular-sized muffin cups and pre-heat oven to 375° F. (190° C).
  9. With a rolling pin, roll one of your dough balls into a a flat circle, about 6-inches in diameter. Place one heaping Tbsp. of the apple filling into the center of the circle. Gather the outside edges of the circle, using a lift, pleat, pinch together motion, until you’ve formed a sealed pouch. Be sure the dough is pinched together well to avoid filling leakage. By gently patting the edges, you can re-form your pouch into a circle if it has become a bit oval. Place your filled bun SEAM SIDE DOWN into a prepared muffin cup. Repeat until you’ve completed all your buns.
  10. Spray or grease some plastic wrap and place it over the buns (sprayed side towards the buns) and allow to rise until doubled again (mine took about 40 minutes).
  11. Once doubled, brush each bun with the egg wash. Stick a piece of a prepared cinnamon stick on top of each bun. (I wasn’t sure if they should pierce the dough or not. Most of mine seemed to just bend the dough and not pierce it, although a few did pierce. In the end, it didn’t seem to matter in the finished product).
  12. Bake: Bake in the pre-heated 375° F. oven for 13-15 minutes, rotating the pans 180° about halfway through cooking, for even browning. Buns should be evenly golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool in pans for about 10 minutes then remove to a cooling rack to cool. (Once cooled, they can be place back into the muffin cups for storage, if you like). Serve warmed (10 seconds in microwave to re-heat) or at room temperature. Serve with a sprinkling of powdered sugar, if you like.
  13. These are best on the day they are baked, but will keep well for several days stored covered at room temperature. These also freeze well.

Be sure to read the “Cook’s Notes” in the original post, for more tips, options, substitutions and variations for this recipe!



  • Thanks, I used your filling with my grandmother’s bun recipe and they turned out much tastier than the last time when I just used apple tossed with cinnamon. I opted to sprinkle cinnamon and sugar on top prior to baking instead of using cinnamon sticks and it was a nice touch.

    The dough recipe I used is actually for Pyrogs (ham buns). We make them every year on the day after xmas and they are filled with the leftover ham which we ground and fry with diced onion and a little cream. Before baking buns are brushed with a milk and sugar mix. If you are looking for something else to try that would work with your dough recipe :)

  • Hi Jennifer, my name is Tamara, I’m following you for some weeks now:) I love cooking too and I’m learning and enjoying your recipes and beautiful webpage so much! Thank you. This Xmas, and inspired by these buns;) I decided to bake all my gifts for my family, and of course, chose your apple cinnamon buns for my mom’s gift (since she loves apple desserts) I followed your instructions step by step, and the buns came out perfect, just perfect & delicious, apart from being the cutest thing:D
    thank you again, you are an inspiration.
    Warm regards from Madrid, Merry Xmas and a wonderful 2014!

    • Thank you so much, Tamara. I’m glad to hear your apple buns turned out so well! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you, as well :)

  • I tried this recipe and SMASHING! The buns turned out soft and very nice. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe. GBU.

    • Thanks so much, Renee. So nice to meet you, too. Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving, as well, with lots of good food!

    • Thanks Amy. Sounds like you’ve been busy since you got home. Hope you have a great (relaxing) Thanksgiving weekend!

    • I hope you get a chance to make them Laura. They have all disappeared from my house, so I think it’s safe to say they were a hit!

  • Tangzhong! i have been wanting to try this method for bread-baking, too! But what the heck, these are the CUTEST buns i have ever seen. beautiful work, Jennifer! I can’t get over these. Fun to think of you being here in the beautiful Pacific Northwest — next time keep driving, and visit us in Oregon :)

    • This dough was really good Sophie and an interesting technique. And yes, how cute are these buns? They made me smile every time I walked past them on the counter.

      I LOVED Seattle. The market was fabulous and a Starbucks on every corner. And the shopping was great. My kind of city! I’ll be sure to go back and already have Oregon on my list to see when I do.

        • You’d love Victoria or Vancouver (or the Tofino area on Vancouver Island is beautiful!). I think they are all very much like Seattle – the west coast “vibe”. Of course, Toronto or Montreal also great cities worth visiting.

    • Thanks Angie and yes, they were perfect for breakfast. The dough is so nice and light and with the apple, they were great.

  • These are so cute and look light and fluffy. I missed picking apples this year as the orchards are not allowing it this year ;( Happy Thanksgiving!

    • Thanks Liz. Yes, the Ontario apple crop was so hard hit. Can’t get over the prices of apples this Fall! (But I’m going to buy lots, anyway :)

I love hearing from you, so if you have a question or something isn't quite clear, I'm happy to help. If you made this recipe, I'd love to know how you liked it ~ Jennifer

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