Raf’s apple butter and caramel rolls

My lovely daughter had a party, and someone bought these delicious apple butter and caramel rolls. They are very sticky, and the cider vinegar elevates the apple butter to complement the caramel stickiness. The technique is a bit like making a tarte tatin, in that it is cooked upside-down and turned over to reveal the sugary fruity nutty topping. 


For the apple butter:

  • 4 tart eating apples, or cooking apples, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
  • 115ml apple cider
  • 75g light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • a generous grating of nutmeg, around 1/4 tsp
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • a pinch of salt
  • 55g butter (use vegan ‘butter’ as a substitute)
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice

For the caramel

  • 175g dark brown sugar
  • 85g butter
  • 100g walnuts or pecans. If you are using walnuts and they are a bit bitter, soak them in water first.

For the yeasted dough

  • 480ml milk
  • 120g butter
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 8g dried yeast
  • 700g strong plain white flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 100g dark brown sugar


  • Mix the chopped apples with the spices, salt and cider and simmer slowly over a low heat, for about an hour. Check and stir regularly to make sure they are not burning. Add a little water if the mixture is beginning to stick. 
  • When the apples are very very soft, use a blender, and return the puree back to the pan and simmer it until it is a thick creamy consistency. 
  • Beat in the butter and lemon juice, to taste. Put it in a wee jar and chill in the fridge. This can be used as a spread in its own right. 
  • Make the pecan caramel sauce. Mix the butter and sugar in a saucepan and warm until everything is dissolved and smooth. Add the nuts and pour into a greased baking tray and leave to cool. The baking tray should be quite deep, and measure around 33cm by 23cm.
  • Make the dough. Melt the butter into the milk and sugar, and leave until it is just warm. 
  • Sprinkle in the yeast and stir it in. Leave in a warm place until the yeast is beginning to bubble.
  • Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add the milk mixture and mix well to make a sticky messy dough. Don’t bother trying to kneed it at this stage.
  • Cover the dough bowl with a damp teatowel, and leave in a warm room for up to an hour, until it has puffed up. This is a good time to set the oven to preheat to 180C.
  • Knock back the dough, and kneed it until it is stretchy and elastic. Stretch and roll it into an oblong, about 30cm by 60cm, and about 1cm thick. If it is not behaving, leave it to relax for a few minutes and have another go. You might need a dusting of flour on your surfaces to stop the dough from sticking. 
  • Spread half the apple butter onto the dough and sprinkle on the dark brown sugar. Roll the dough up lengthways, swiss roll style, to make a long snake. Don’t squeeze at all, because the apple butter needs to stay in the roll. 
  • Slice the snaky roll up into 15 slices
  • Arrange the dough slices like rosettes on top of the nutty caramel, 3 rows of 5, and leave to rest for around 20 to 30 minutes
  • Bake at 180C for around 30 minutes. 
  • Turn out onto a larger tray, while hot, and before the caramel sets, and leave to cool. 
  • Serve with extra apple butter.