Apple-Cinnamon Pull-Apart Rolls: from store-bought to homemade

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“I could do that.”

Who among us, upon walking into a bakery, up and down the aisles at the supermarket, or past the stands at a farmers’ market hasn’t looked at [bread, pie, cake, muffins, cookies…] and said, “Hey, I could do that.”

There’s one particular place this happens to me a lot. And, I surmise, lots of other people, too.

And where’s that?

Panera Bread.

You know Panera, right? While their service is speedy enough to qualify Panera as fast food, their breads, pastries, salads, soups, and desserts are a huge cut above the food at other fast-food chains.

Good food, served quickly is more like it.

Their breads and pastries are especially good, and it’s no wonder – Panera’s head baker, Tom Gumpel, is the former associate dean of baking and pastry arts at the CIA: the Culinary Institute of America, the country’s foremost culinary school.

He was also the captain of Team USA at Paris’ 1999 Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie – the “bread-baking Olympics” – leading the American team to its first victory ever.

A Certified Master Baker, Tom was named one of America’s “Top Ten Bread Bakers” by Dessert Professional magazine, back in 2010. So clearly, Panera’s breads (three cheese, sesame semolina, sourdough, cinnamon raisin…), to say nothing of their bagels, pecan rolls, and other yeast-based treats, bear the touch of a master.

Sadly, there’s not a Panera Bread close to where I live. But happily, I’m gradually creating my own clones of some of their most popular offerings – like their Asiago bagels.

And their signature Cobblestone, a streusel-topped, icing-glazed… well,  here’s the description from their menu:

“Cobblestone: Our Cinnamon Raisin bread dough mixed with chunks of apples and spices, topped with streusel and white icing.”

I can do that – and so can you!

Place the following in a mixing bowl:

1 cup (4 ounces) King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour*
2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons potato flour or 1/3 cup instant potato flakes
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda**
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) butter
1/2 cup lukewarm milk
1/2 cup lukewarm water

*Substitute 1 cup all-purpose flour for the whole wheat flour, if desired.

**Why baking soda – isn’t this a yeast bread? While it’s not critical, we feel it gives the rolls a bit of extra “pop” in the oven.

Mix and then knead to make a smooth, soft dough. It may seem dry at first, but as you knead it’ll soften up.

Place the dough in a greased bowl or greased 8-cup measure, cover it, and let it rise for 60 to 90 minutes, until it’s noticeably puffy (though not necessarily doubled in bulk).

Lightly grease paper muffin cups, and use them to line the 12 cups of a standard muffin tin. The recipe makes 16 rolls; but if you don’t have a second pan, don’t stress — we’ll give you an alternative.

Gently deflate the dough, and divide it into 16 pieces; each will be about 1 1/2 ounces (44g). Round each piece into a flattened ball.

Working with one piece at a time, use a bench knife (or regular knife) to cut the dough into 8 wedges. Don’t worry about being precise; pieces can vary in size. Roll or shake the dough pieces in cinnamon-sugar.

Place four pieces of dough into a muffin cup. Sprinkle with raisins and chopped apple, and top with the remaining four pieces of dough.

Variation: Add a sprinkle of cinnamon chips, along with the raisins and apple. While Panera doesn’t mention cinnamon chips in their Cobblestone description, they’re listed in the ingredient statement.

Now, if you demand precision in a recipe, this part is probably a challenge for you. How many raisins, exactly, do you use for each roll? How many pieces of apple?

While baking often does demand exact amounts of ingredients, the filling for these rolls is more intuitive. If it looks good to you, it’s right. I ended up using about 1/2 cup of raisins and a heaping cup of chopped fresh apple, total.

“Did you peel the apple?” Yes, I did; but it’s really not necessary.

Repeat with the remaining balls of dough, raisins, and apple.

When you run out of room in the muffin tin, section the remaining four dough balls, and make them into a small pull-apart bread. Or make individual rolls by placing them in doubled-up aluminum foil muffin cups, set in a cake pan or on small baking sheet.

Sprinkle any remaining cinnamon-sugar atop the rolls. Cover them lightly, and let them rise for about 2 hours, until they’re puffy.

As you can see from the bottom photo, these aren’t real high-risers. Which is just fine, as the unrisen dough fills the muffin cups quite full to begin with.

Toward the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.

Uncover the risen rolls, and bake them for 15 to 17 minutes, until they’re a light golden brown. Don’t let them darken too much; they’ll be dry.

Remove the rolls from the oven, and transfer them to a rack to cool.

In retrospect, these are too dark; next time, I’ll shorten their oven time just a tad.

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Drizzle rolls with boiled cider, if desired; this will add flavor, as well as a nice stickiness.

When rolls are completely cool, add a simple white icing.

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To make the icing, stir together the following:

2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon milk

Drizzle it over the cooled rolls.

[Slaps forehead…] Darn, I forgot the streusel! It should have gone on before the rolls went into the oven.

Sigh… Well, add streusel if you like; here’s a good streusel recipe.

Now, in case you’re wondering, “Why couldn’t she make the recipe fit into a single muffin pan, so I wouldn’t have to deal with leftover dough?”

I tried, I really did.

I started with a dough recipe I liked, and didn’t want to mess with cutting it down by, like, 20%.

So I did some experimenting with roll size, seeing what would happen if I divided the dough into 12 pieces; 16 pieces; 18 pieces, and 24 pieces.

At top left is the dough if you divide it in 12 pieces, perfect for one muffin pan. Alas, the roll was a little too big.

At right, for comparison, is an example of dividing the dough into 24 pieces; too small.

On the bottom row, we see a 16-piece divide at left; an 18-piece at right. Large enough to look generous, but not over-the-top-silly large.

Very little difference between 16 and 18, so I went with the 16.

 

Cobblestone, deconstructed: Panera on top, mine on the bottom. Strangely, I couldn’t find any apple at all in the Panera roll, though it did sport a lot of streusel topping and sticky glaze.

And here they are, side by side: Panera on the left, mine on the right. Clearly, the original Cobblestone is larger. But hey, if you’re counting calories, a smaller, more refined sweet roll is just what the doctor ordered, right?

Are there any special bakery or restaurant recipes you’ve cloned at home… or would love to? Share your favorite “store-bought to homemade” projects in comments, below.

Read, bake, and review (please) our recipe for Apple-Cinnamon Pull-Apart Rolls.

Print just the recipe.

Footnote: Many of you have told us that you bake at home because you like knowing what you’re feeding your family. The following ingredient statement, for Panera’s Cobblestones, might reinforce that decision. Not picking on Panera here; when baking in bulk, for public sale and to keep a business afloat, these are the kind of ingredients many manufacturers use.

Unbleached enriched wheat flour (flour, malted barley flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), cobblestone filling (sugar, apples [preserved with erythorbic acid, salt, citric acid], high fructose corn syrup, margarine [liquid & partially hydrogenated soybean oil, water, salt, vegetable mono & diglycerides, soy lecithin, sodium benzoate {preservative}, citric acid, artificial flavor, calcium disodium EDTA added to protect flavor, beta carotene {color}, vitamin A palmitate], water, natural flavor, food starch- modified, apple juice, salt, sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate [preservatives], apple pie spice [cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves], spice, propylene glycol, xanthan gum, citric acid), water, seedless raisins, streusel topping (enriched wheat flour [flour, malted barley flour, niacin, ferrous sulfate, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), sugar, palm oil, honey, salt, mono & diglycerides, natural and artificial flavor, water, polysorbate 60, glycerin, caramel color, yellow 5 & 6, red 40), sugar, pasteurized whole eggs, cinnamon flavored confectionery chip (sugar, palm kernel oil, nonfat milk powder, cinnamon, natural flavor, soy lecithin [as emulsifier]), palm oil shortening, country base (natural wheat sour, salt, rye flour, wheat gluten, malted barley flour, soy lecithin, ascorbic acid, enzymes), high heat milk solids (milk protein concentrate, non-fat dry milk, lactose), yeast (yeast, sorbitan monostearate, ascorbic acid), natural base (calcium diphosphate, malted barley flour, dextrose, distilled monoglycerides, rye flour, sunflower lecithin, wheat flour, enzymes, ascorbic acid), honey, cinnamon), white icing (sugar, water, corn starch, corn syrup, soybean oil, natural flavor, invert sugar, citric acid).

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel was born in Wisconsin, grew up in New England, and graduated from Brown University. She was a journalist in Massachusetts and Maine before joining the King Arthur Flour Company in 1990, where she's been ever since. Author or co-author of three King Arthur ...

comments

  1. Cyn

    PJ, I like the look of the KAF roll compared to Panera’s! Very nice and I need to find some time to try this recipe. A caveat based upon a rather yucky previous experience: instant potato flakes in general contain a LOT of sodium. When I use them in a recipe, I taste the dough and then usually I don’t add any more salt. Ask me how I found this out… :-P

    I would love to know how you found out! But a great point about using instant potato flakes: it is best to find the most “natural” kind without excess sodium/additives. Best, Kim@KAF

    Reply
  2. Pam

    Hi PJ,

    I have a secret for you on this recipe. If you e-mail me I will tell you.

    Pam: now the rest of us who read the comments are going to want to know! Kim@KAF

    Reply
  3. AnneMarie

    I guess If you HAVE to eat out, Panera will DO. We rarely eat out and my mom took us to Panera for lunch when we were visiting. She raved about it. I found the baked goods flavorless and DRY! The open cases/display with flies on it grossed me out to NO end.

    NOTHING beats homemade, and I’ve copied the cobblestones, the danish, the rolls, and the breads. NOTHING beats fresh ingredients and PROPER storage.

    Proper storage is certainly key to keeping baked goods fresh! Kim@KAF

    Reply
  4. Mandy S

    I like Panera’s baguettes but I’m not that impressed with the pastries..I’ve had better but I agree with AnneMarie tasteless and dry..Will try this recipe your pictures looks delicious :)
    These, IMHO, are so much better than the “real” thing. So delish! I hope you enjoy them too. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  5. Rosie

    Instead of the cinnamon chips, would butterscotch chips work?

    Any chip will be fine to use, including butterscotch!-Jon

    Reply
  6. Rosie

    “Lightly grease paper muffin cups” Is this necessary? I’ve never greased the muffin liners and they always peel off easily. Is there something about this recipe that requires greasing? I can’t imagine trying to grease all those little folds.
    Thanks

    We find that it helps to prevent sticking, but if you don’t have that issue then you certainly do not need to spray your papers.-Jon

    Reply
  7. AnneInWA

    PJ,

    This looks fabulous! I was thinking of adding a bit of dark brown sugar for added gooey ness maybe with some melted butter? Also, if you don’t want to grease paper muffin cups, just buy the if you care brand, they peel off perfectly and there are never any crumbs left on the papers from muffins, cupcakes, cheesecakes,ect… They are wonderful, and earth friendly too!

    Thank you for making note of the ingredients in the panara bread version, this is why I bake all of my own bread, buns, Danish, doughnuts, cookies, cakes, ect… I don’t want to put some of that stuff into my family’s bodies! If you cannot pronounce it, you shouldn’t eat it is my motto!

    Thanks for this wonderful post, I am making these today, actually a few batches: one with peaches, blueberries, and apples with dried cherries!

    Anne

    Dried cherries and apples: one of my favorite combinations! Thank you for the kind remarks, Anne! I’m sure PJ appreciates them. Kim@KAF

    Reply
  8. Addie

    Looking at the part of the directions where you pour the boiled cider over the muffins, could you estimate an amount ??? about a tablespoon? I don’t want to get too carried away.

    I bet 1-2 teaspoons per muffin would be a good start. You could always go up a little from there, but I’d start with one/two and see how it looks. If you wanted, you could brush them with the cider to make the tops sticky OR combine it with a little maple syrup for a sweet/sour drizzle. Kim@KAF

    Reply
  9. Janet

    These look amazing. I was a cobblestone addict but had to stop buying them because of the fat. I’m going to make these. Thanks.

    Janet: I hope you enjoy these as much as we did! The streusel really takes them up a level, so don’t skimp! Kim@KAF

    Reply
  10. Addie

    Thanks for the quick response – going to try these this weekend … I’ll post a comment when I’m done!

    Reply
  11. Jacqueline Manni

    These were incredibly delicious! I have one of those 8 hole vintage muffin tins from my grandmother, so I halved the recipe and the amounts worked out perfectly to make beautiful little breads:

    https://twitter.com/jackiemania/status/325731013185646592/photo/1

    I didn’t use the cider or streusel, but did use the glaze. I loved the level of sweetness. I mean, really loved. I ate three :)

    It’s hard to understand the power of a sweet treat until it stares you down and fills your house with that heavenly aroma! I wouldn’t resist, myself! Kim@KAF

    Reply
  12. Addie

    I made these over the weekend.

    I included the streusel and the boiled cider. I was a little surprised that the dough didn’t rise as much as I thought it might after a 2 hour second rise, nor did they puff up much in the oven, but the rolls are delicious.

    If I wanted to make these in advance to bring to work the next day (bake first thing in the morning), how would I do that?

    It sounds like your yeast might not have been fresh OR it is possible it came into contact with hot liquid OR you used really cold water (you always want to use just barely lukewarm water when working with yeast). Next time, allow for a longer rising time (it can take up to 3-4 hours depending on how cool your kitchen is) and I’m sure you would have seen a better, taller result. To do ahead, make the dough and let it do the first rise in the fridge overnight. Then, portion the dough, assemble the muffins, rise, bake, and drizzle with glaze/syrup as you see fit! Best, Kim@KAF

    Reply
  13. Renee S.

    Just finished woofing down one of these, they are totally awesome! The only change I made was the addition of a sprinkle of coarsely ground pecans.
    This recipe is definitely a keeper!
    I tried logging on with my password, etc., but I kept getting an error code 404(?)
    and then tried changing my password, etc., so finally just posted without the log in.

    Aha! You problem solved on your own and found that in posting to blog reviews, recipes or products, you don’t need to log in. You DO need to log in to join in the discussion on the Community section of the website. Happy Baking! Irene@KAF

    Renee, the login was broken up till a few hours ago – so it wasn’t you, it was us. Fixed now – thanks for your patience! PJH

    Reply
  14. Mary Ellen

    Dah! Now I want to know the secret, Pam!! :-)

    Cool Whip and Panera’s cobblestones have something in common! Polysorbate 60. Ewwwww.

    Reply
  15. SugarPusher

    Would it be possible to make any of the stages ahead of time? Say the night before so you could have them fresh for breakfast in the morning?

    Sure – I’d think you could make them all the way through shaping, then let them rise for about 30 minutes, cover, and refrigerate overnight. Next morning, let sit at room temperature while you preheat the oven; then bake. You might have to bake slightly longer, to account for the dough being chilled. Another way to enjoy warm, “fresh baked” rolls is to reheat fully baked (but not iced) rolls in a preheated 350°F oven for about 10 minutes, tented with foil. Drizzle with icing when they come out of the oven. Enjoy! PJH

    Reply
  16. Audra

    Hello! I’m wondering if there is a way to skip the potato flour/flakes- do they add something so important to these that I couldn’t find an easier substitute?

    Consider potato water (from boiling potatoes) or a small boiled and mashed potato. The potato keeps the dough nice and moist, and in yeast breads prevents crumbling slices. Happy Baking! Irene@KAF

    Reply
  17. loriconnors35

    I made these this weekend and they were a hit. I completely forgot the baking soda so I definitely want to make again and see what the difference will be. I didn’t have KAF boiled cider so i just boiled some regular cider down. It was a little runnier than I would have liked but it worked. Definitely a keeper recipe!
    Thinking on your feet, we like that! BHR@KAF

    Reply
  18. cartvl219

    I agree with Renee S about the pecans. After making the rolls without the nuts I wish I had put them in. I did make the streusel (maybe could add some finely chopped nuts to that) and added some boiled cider and then the glaze. Finished product is awesome. I will have to make these for the Neighborhood Watch bake sale next year. I did treat these like sweet rolls and used SAF Gold yeast and they rose beautifully.
    Carolyn

    Reply
  19. junglejana

    Made them Friday warm in my kitchen the first rise was double for sure. And the second rise only took an hour. Only apples, sugar and cinnamon were my additions. Wow a do again, a hit with my family and the few we had the next day still moist and wonderful. I used all in bleached flour and those potato flakes. Love the hints in the blog.

    Reply
  20. chococat

    Made these this morning with my favorite yeast dough recipe. Instead of the icing and streusel, I put a bit of caramel sauce on the top before baking. It made them perfect sticky buns. Needless to say they were inhaled quickly.

    Well, now, doesn’t THAT sound absolutely delicious! You can’t go wrong with caramel and apples, eh? Thanks for the inspiration :) PJH

    Reply
  21. Shuchi

    Hi, i really want to try this recipe! Sounds and looks scrumptious. But i don’t get potato flour near my area. So could you please suggest a suitable substitute for it along with quantity to be used in this recipe? Thanks!
    Instant mashed potato flakes are a great sub for potato flour. Just use twice as much flakes as potato flour. Enjoy! ~ MJ

    Reply
  22. KissMyGrits

    I made these with the streusel topping, but without the boiled cider glaze (since I didn’t have any). They were good, but were not as gooey as I was hoping for. Also, I found the whole wheat flavor didn’t really go that well with this type of roll. Next time I would use 100% AP flour. Also, I think that dipping the pieces in melted butter before rolling in cinnamon sugar (using dark brown sugar) would help to provide the gooey stickiness that I am looking for. Other than that, the rolls were easy to make, and the dough came out nice and light.

    Reply

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