Apple Walnut Buns With Maple Brown Butter Glaze


For the dough:
1 large russet potato, prebaked or microwave cooked and cooled
1 cup whole milk, divided
1 packet active dry yeast
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 large egg
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour

For the filling:
4 cups peeled apple, cored and sliced 1/8-inch thick then chopped to 1/2-inch pieces
1 1/2 tablespoon water
1 1/4 packed cup dark brown sugar, divided
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons butter, melted  
1 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch + 1 1/2 tablespoon water for slurry
1 heaping cup chopped walnut

For the glaze:
1/4 cup butter
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon whole milk + more to thin glaze if needed
pinch of salt
1 cup powdered sugar


Peel skin off potato. Mash with a potato masher or ricer. Measure out one cup. Set aside.

Warm milk on the stovetop or in the microwave to 105° to 110°. Be careful not to overheat the milk. It will kill the yeast. Pour 1/4 cup into a small bowl. Stir in yeast. Set aside 5 to 10 minutes to proof.

Heat the remaining milk until hot to the touch but not boiling. Add milk and sugar to the bottom of the bowl of a stand mixer affixed with a paddle attachment. Beat slowly for one minute to combine. Add mashed potato, butter, and salt. Mix well. Beat in egg. Change to the hook attachment.

Add yeast mixture to the bowl. Mix on low for a few seconds to incorporate. Add 2 cups of flour. Mix on low and increasing to medium low for one minute to combine, stopping the mixer and scrape sides of bowl with spatula. Add a heaping 1 cup of flour. Slowly increase heat to medium. The dough should ball up around the hook and pull away from the sides of the bowl. If there is a large pool of dough on the sides of the bowl, add more flour, a couple tablespoons at a time. The desired dough consistency should be slightly tacky when touched but should not stick to your fingers. At this consistency, it is fine if there is a small pool of dough at the bottom of the bowl. Turn the mixer down to medium low. Mix for 8 minutes. 

Transfer dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for 1 minute by hand. Place in a large greased bowl cover with a plastic wrap. Allow to rise in a warm, draft-free area for 1 to 1 1/2 hour or until it dough doubles in size.

To make the filling
Add water then apple to a medium saucepan. Add 1/2 cup brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Cover and cook on medium high for a minute or two, or until the water and juices begins to boil. Reduce heat to medium low and cook until the apples are tender, about 8 to 10 minutes. Shake the pan to mix or manually stir a couple times during cooking.

Combine the 1 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch and 1 1/2 tablespoon water to form a milky slurry. Turn the heat to medium. Stir half of the slurry into the apple mixture. If the juice does not thicken, add a little more slurry. The juices should be thick and non-pourable.

Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla extract. Allow to cool.

Once the dough has doubled in size, lightly punch down with fist. Transfer onto a lightly floured surface. Roughly shape into a long log. Roll to a rectangle 18-inches in length and 1/4-inch thick. 

Brush dough with butter. Avoiding the outer 1/2-inch edges, add: brown sugar, walnuts, and apple filling. Starting at the one of the 18-inch sides, roll dough into a log. Pinch the seam to seal. Using a serrated knife, trim the uneven ends. Cut log into equal 12 sections. Place into a prepared 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Cover loosely and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.

Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 25 to 30 minutes until the buns are lightly browned. Cool slightly prior to adding glaze.

While the buns are in the oven, prepare the glaze. Melt butter in a small saucepan on medium heat. Butter will bubble, foam, and develop a nutty smell about 4 minutes. Stir frequently. Be cautious as there might be a little splashing. When the milk solids turn golden brown, remove from heat. Stir in maple syrup and salt. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Add milk. Whisk in powdered sugar until smooth and easily spreadable. Add additional milk by the teaspoonful if it is too thick.

Store buns in an airtight container for up to 3 days or refrigerated for up to 5 days. Microwave for about 15 seconds before eating.

Makes 12 buns. 

Recipe Notes:
  1. To create a warm environment for the dough to rise, turn oven on for 1 to 2 minutes, to bring the temperature between 100°-110°F. Shut oven off. Place the dough in the oven to rise.
  2. If the glaze sits out a little too long and becomes too thick to spread onto the buns, microwave for a few seconds to warm. It should thin out.