Yes, these little buns really are easy! You make the dough, then add the apple topping before the buns rise. The buns bake up light, soft, and with a sweet, apple-pie-like topping. I sometimes add chopped nuts--walnuts, pecan, hazelnuts, etc.--on top of the apples, which gives the buns even more flavor and a nice crunch on top. The dough is "bread-like" not "pie-like" and yields a bun that is only slightly sweet, with a nice sourdough tang. The apple topping is the star, and the apples with the warm spices do add plenty of sweetness and flavor to the buns. The topping takes only minutes to make, and I advise making it in advance (or while the dough is resting) and letting it cool. My husband likes the buns, warm from the oven, for dessert, but the buns really are more of a breakfast or tea-time treat. Well, actually, the buns are great whenever! Enjoy!
Sourdough Apple Pie Buns -- Makes 10
1 cup of sourdough starter/discard
1 large egg
1/3 cup of canola oil
1/3 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of milk
1 cup of all-purpose flour
In a large bowl mix all of the ingredients listed above well, loosely cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let the mixture sit for at least an hour. I usually let the mixture sit for 3-5 hours, and it's just fine. When you're ready, add to the mixture:
1 cup of all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon of salt
Knead the mixture well for 3-5 minutes, kneading in a bit more flour, if the dough seems too sticky to knead. The dough should be moist to the touch as you knead it but not super sticky. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Divide the dough into 10 pieces and roll the pieces into balls. Place the balls on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Flatten the balls out with your hand to form thick circles and press a small hollow into the center of the circles, as if you were making giant "thumb-print cookies." Fill the hollows/tops of the dough with the apple mixture below. If you'd like, sprinkle about 1/2 cup of chopped nuts on top of the apple mixture. Spritz the tops of the buns with a little non-stick cooking spray (it will help keep the nuts from burning later and keep the plastic from sticking while the buns rise). Cover the buns loosely with plastic wrap. Let the buns rise for 2-4 hours or until they puff up by about a third in size. Bake the buns in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 16-20 minutes or until a light golden brown. Let the buns cool a few minutes before serving them (the filling will be really hot!) or serve the buns at room temperature.
2 cups of peeled, cored, chopped apples (about 2 medium apples)
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
1 teaspoon of apple pie spice (or 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon each of nutmeg, allspice, and cloves)
1/4 cup of water
2 tablespoons of water mixed with 2 teaspoons of cornstarch
In al medium microwave-safe bowl mix together well the apples, brown sugar, lemon juice, spice, and 1/4 cup of water. Microwave the mixture for several minutes, stirring it every minute or so, until the apples release their juices and soften. Stir in the water/cornstarch mixture and microwave the apple mixture for another minute or so until the apple mixture is quite thick--about the consistency of apple pie filling. Set the mixture aside to cool to room temperature before using it to fill the dough balls (the mixture will thicken up even more as it sits).