Holiday Baking: Caramel Apple Fantans

So, here’s the thing.  I like Fall.  But, I don’t love Fall.  I love Spring.  I just feel like I needed to throw that out there.  I enjoy the cooler weather and all, but let’s face it… it’s just not that much cooler in southwest Florida.  It was like 87 degrees the day I made these fantans.  In November.  Of course, since I’m saying that, the low tomorrow is supposed to be 40 and the high on Thanksgiving is like 65.  It will be the coldest Thanksgiving we’ve had in maybe 10 years.  Don’t worry, we’ll still go to the beach and play bocce ball.  Because that’s just what we do in Florida on holidays.

The one thing I actually do love about Fall is the seasonal baking.  In all reality, you can bake with apples and pumpkin (albeit canned, but who purees their own fresh pumpkin for pumpkin pie these days?) all year.  I’m assuming that up north, where the seasons actually change, warm apples and pumpkin deliciousness make everybody feel a little warmer.  Here, it’s partly an excuse to make it feel like the season has changed… and mostly to get us more in the mood for something completely awesome: Thanksgiving and Christmas!  Which, to me, means time with awesome family!  Bah!  All of a sudden SO excited for Thanksgiving!

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Okay, to the task at hand.  My contribution for Turkey Day is always these Pumpkin Whoopie Pies, which are dessert for the Thanksgiving Eve festivities (yes, we have those at our house and they usually involve deep frying anything we can get our hands on, including whoopie pies) and then usually breakfast for T-Day morning.  This year, I’m adding these amaze-balls Caramel Apple Fantans.  They take a while to make, but each step in the process is relatively easy, and the end result is worth.it.  Promise.  They are pull apart, sticky, sugary, apply delicious.  If you don’t have time for Thanksgiving, they would be great for Christmas, too!  And, AND, you can make them ahead of time (sans caramel).  They freeze really well… just make the caramel right before you serve ’em.  Please excuse the lighting in the photos… I made these at night, because that’s when I have time to bake with a newborn.

Here’s what you need: (Adapted from Southern Living)
Makes 12 – allow yourself a total of 3 hours, an hour of which is hands on

For the dough:

  • 1 (1/4-oz.) envelope active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water (105° to 115°)
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups bread flour
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

For the filling:

  • 9 tablespoons butter, softened and divided
  • 3 cups peeled and diced baking apples… I used Envy, but you can use Braeburn, Gala, Honeycrisp, etc.  Envys are huge, so I only used 2 apples
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup chopped toasted pecans (optional… I didn’t use nuts)

For the caramel glaze:

  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

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To prepare your dough, combine yeast, water and the teaspoon of sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and let sit for about 5 minutes.  Using the paddle attachment, stir in egg, the 1/4 cup sugar, butter, salt and 1 1/2 cups bread flour.  Beat on medium for about a minute or so.  Gradually add in the whole wheat flour and enough of the remaining bread flour to make a soft dough.  Turn the dough out on a bread-floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic… somewhere between 5-10 minutes… sprinkling with bread flour as needed.    Put dough ball into a lightly grease bowl and turn once to grease all sides.  Cover loosely with plastic and let rise in a warm place for 45-55 minutes, until doubled in size.

While the dough is rising, prepare the filling.  In a large skillet on medium-high, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter.  Add apples, raisins and brown sugar.  Saute about 5 minutes, until the apples are tender but still slightly crisp.  Remove from heat and let cool completely… at least 30 minutes.

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Punch your dough down and turn back out onto floured surface.  Roll to a 20″ x 12″ rectangle.  Spread remaining 8 tablespoons of butter evenly onto surface.  Mix together 3/4 cup sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle/spread over butter.  Spread apple mixture onto surface.

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Pay attention here:  Cut dough into 5 (12″ x 4″) strips and stack, replacing any apple mixture back onto the dough.  Then, cut into 6 (4″ x 2″) rectangles.  THEN, cut those rectangles in half so that you have 12 (2″ x 2″) squares.

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Stuff each set of squares sideways into cups of a greased muffin pan (cut sides up).  Cover loosely with plastic and let rise about 45 minutes – 1 hour, until dough has risen 3/4″ above pan.  Preheat oven to 375 and bake 18-20 minutes, until deep golden brown.  Cool in the pan on a wire rack.  You’re supposed to remove the fantans after 5 minutes and let cool completely on a wire rack, but mine started falling apart, so I let them completely cool on a plate.

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For the glaze, bring butter and brown sugar to boil in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Boil for 1 minute, remove from heat and drizzle over rolls.  As I said before, the pre-glazed rolls freeze well.  The post-glazed rolls refrigerate well, also!  Enjoy!

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