Fall Harvest Sweet Rolls

Fall Harvest Sweet Rolls

It is Autumn, the air is crisp, the apples are sweet and it is time we bake some sourdough sweet rolls. We have a long family baking tradition of making cinnamon rolls the first weekend in October and this year with an abundance of apples we are trying something new.

There are not many things that taste better than cinnamon rolls, fluffy and light, buttery and delicious served alongside a piping hot soup or stew. But add cider and tart apples to the sourdough and you’ll get an amazing fall flavor boost.

Preparation Time
35 minutes
Baking Time
25–30 minutes
Total Time
10 hours
1 dozen rolls

Ingredients for Dough

  • 1 cup (227g) ripe (active) sourdough starter*
  • 1 cup (237g) lukewarm milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 tablespoons (57g) butter, softened
  • 3 cups (375g) Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 cup (60g) Abigail’s Premium White Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1/2 cup (125g) mashed potatoes
  • 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 (8.5g) teaspoons salt

*No active starter? Buy one here or grow one by following these steps from our Chief Baker, Martha Levie. Your starter is active when it doubles in 4–8 hours and a teaspoon of it floats in water. (You might also resort to 1 Tbls dry active yeast dissolved in ¼ cup [60ml] warm water)

†No whole wheat flour on hand? Substitute it with 3½ cups (438g) unbleached all-purpose flour with no adjustments to other ingredients are needed.

Instructions for Dough

  1. Cut butter into one tablespoon slices and warm to room temperature while mixing the other ingredients.
  2. Whisk the starter, eggs, milk (reserve 3 tablespoons), mashed potatoes, and sugar together until combined.
  3. Mix the flour with the above mixture for 3 minutes, then let the dough rest for 30 minutes. (This rest is known as an autolyse.)
  4. Mix the reserved milk with the salt and stir to dissolve.
  5. After the rest, add the milk and salt to the dough and mix for a minute on low speed if using a mixer. Knead the dough until it is smooth for 2–3 minutes.
  6. Cover the dough and allow it to rise for at least 4 hours at room temperature (72°F/22°C).
  7. During these 4 hours‡, stretch and fold the dough hourly, for a total of three times, to make a stronger, more elastic dough.

‡ You may ferment the dough overnight, but it will be less and less sweet with each hour or fermentation.


  • 1 shredded peeled, tart apple
  • ¼ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
Filling and Assembling
  1. For the filling, mix sugar, apple, and cinnamon.
  2. Turn onto a floured surface and gently roll into a 14×12-in. rectangle.
  3. Brush the top surface with melted and sprinkle with the cinnamon-sugar-apple mix.
  4. Roll the dough, jelly-roll style into a log.
  5. Slice it into 12 rolls
  6. Place the rolls in the buttered baking pan.
  7. Cover with plastic wrap (or a damp towel) and allow to rise until nearly doubled, (about 45 minutes).
  8. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400°F (205°C) but turn it down to 350°F (175°C) just before baking.
  9. Bake the dough for 35-45 minutes or until a thermometer reads 200°F (95°C) internal temperature.


  • 3 ounces (85g) of softened cream cheese, softened
  • 4 tablespoons (57g) softened unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups (170g) powdered sugar
  • 1/2 (2.5ml) teaspoon vanilla


Cider Glaze

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons apple juice or cider
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped,m toasted walnuts

To Make the Frosting 

  1. Beat cream cheese, butter, sugar, and vanilla together in a mixing bowl. When the rolls are hot from the oven, spread the frosting on them warm. (Frosting will melt into every crevice of each roll—yum!)
    (or, if glazing, mix confectioners’ sugar, and apple cider. Drizzle over the warm rolls and sprinkle with toasted walnuts.)
  2. Serve rolls warm, or rewarm later for 10 seconds in your microwave.
  3. You can store them in plastic at room temperature a day or two; they also freeze well for longer storage, but why when they are so good.

Ripe sourdough imparts a subtle chewy texture and puts these soft and buttery cinnamon rolls over the top—sure there is a slightly longer proofing time, but I can promise you will be glad you took the time to make these delicious rolls.

And my cinnamon roll recipe, which has served me well for many years, has a surprising ingredient: mashed potatoes. I am not sure what the potatoes do but I have been suspicious that our pioneer forebearers discovered that adding them at our high altitude made a lighter roll. These do not disappoint.

In the comment section below tell us how yours turned out.

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