Yield: 6 apple pie brioche buns // Total Time: 2 hr. 30 min. // Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links.
Light and fluffy brioche, topped with a homemade spiced apple pie filling and a simple streusel.
Apple Pie Brioche Buns
Brioche is probably my favorite thing to make, just because it is so versatile! Here I take my favorite tried and true brioche recipe and turn it into these delicious apple pie brioche buns, perfect for fall. The apple pie filling is generously spiced, and a simple streusel is added (because of course you need streusel!) I use this dough for my bee sting cake, strawberry matcha buns, and my nutella cinnamon rolls. Brioche can seem scary to tackle but I’ve loaded this post with (I hope) all of the tips and tricks you could need to be successful with it. So let’s get in to it!
Why do you post small batch recipes?
I love making small batch bakes because they are the perfect size myself and others who don’t have a lot of people to bake for in their home. Small batch helps cut down on waste and eliminates the feeling that all that excess dessert MUST be eaten. Here on my blog I post a lot of small batch bakes with a mix of some 8-10″ single layer cakes from time to time. All my recipes can easily be doubled or tripled to fit your need, so long as you use grams to measure!
Apple pie brioche buns recipe tips
Weigh your ingredients
Weighing your ingredients is important for getting the recipe perfect and getting consistent results. Not weighing your ingredients can lead to adding too much or too little of an ingredient. In a small batch recipe it is especially important to get those correct measurements because there is less room for error. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend purchasing a kitchen scale. This one is super cheap and worked well for me when I was starting out!
Kneading the dough
Kneading this dough will take a longer time than you are probably used to. This dough is enriched with eggs and butter which makes it take longer for the proper amount of gluten to develop. Kneading in the mixer can take me anywhere from 10-20 minutes. The dough is ready to be used when it passes the windowpane test and has pulled away from the sides and bottom of the bowl. If you are weighing your ingredients, just trust the process! If you are using cup measurements and the dough just is not coming together after 15 minutes, try adding in 1 tbsp. of flour at a time.
Room temperature ingredients
It is SUPER important for the ingredients to be at room temperature so that they properly incorporate with each other. If you have ever had your batter look curdled, it is most likely due to the ingredients separating from being at different temperatures. Take out the butter and egg at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hr 30 min. before starting the recipe OR follow these methods for room temperature ingredients FAST:
- Fast room temperature eggs. Place the egg in a bowl in the sink and continuously run hot water over it for one minute. Alternatively (and less waste-fully) fill a bowl with warm water and let the egg sit in it for 5 minutes. Immediately separate the egg yolk and egg white, and store the egg white covered in the fridge or freezer for a different recipe!
- Fast room temperature butter. Slice the butter into 1 tbsp. slices and place them flat on a plate. Microwave in 5 second intervals, until you can easily push into the butter.
Heating the milk
Heating the milk is important for bringing the yeast to an optimal temperature for rising. The milk should be heated to ~100°F / 38°C but it does not have to be exact. As long as the milk is between 95°F – 110°F, it is good to be used. If the temperature exceeds 110°F, wait for it to cool down before using so that you do not kill the yeast!
Ingredients and substitutions
For the brioche buns:
All purpose flour: for structure and chewiness.
Active dry yeast: for making the dough rise. You can easily substitute in instant yeast if that is what you have on hand. You will just skip the step of combining the warm milk, sugar, and yeast!
Salt: for balancing and bringing out the sweetness of the brioche. Salt also “controls” the yeast to make sure that it does not overly expand.
Granulated sugar: for sweetening the brioche and for helping the yeast with rising. We will use a little bit of sugar in the brioche as well as in the hazelnut sugar.
Egg: for binding and adding moisture.
Unsalted butter: for tenderizing the brioche rolls and giving them a buttery, melt-in-your-mouth feel. I would not recommend substituting in salted butter since salt is important to controlling yeast growth and the amount of salt in salted butter is quite variable.
Whole milk: for tenderizing and hydrating the dough. Whole milk will provide the softest rolls because the extra fat helps tenderize the dough. You can however swap in 1%, 2% or your favorite non dairy milk alternative! Just note that the dough may be a little less soft and fluffy due to the varying fat content.
For the apple pie filling:
You can click here for my homemade apple pie filling recipe. The recipe makes more than you will need for this recipe, but it freezes super well, or it can easily be cut in half! Note: if you would like to make things easier and used canned apple pie filling that is totally fine! You may need to chop up the apples in the canned filling just because they are usually quite large. The ingredients you will need to make my homemade apple pie filling are listed below:
Apples: use your favorite baking apple here! I used pink lady (since they are typically the least expensive), however when on sale I love to use honey crisp. You can also use fuji, gala, jonathan, granny smith, or braeburn!
Water: to simmer the apples and is the base of the “sauce” in the filling. We will also use a little bit of water to form a paste with the corn starch.
Lemon: fresh or bottled will work here. Helps to prevent browning and brings out the flavor of the apples.
Butter: adds some richness to the apple pie filling. Salted or unsalted will work here!
Ground cinnamon: the main flavor of the apple pie filling. If you are feeling a bit adventurous, you can use apple pie spice in place of the spices in this recipe. However, I find that cinnamon still tastes super delicious and is definitely more accessible and likely already in most people’s kitchen!
Ground nutmeg: a little bit of nutmeg adds some great flavor to the filling. If you don’t have access to nutmeg, you can just replace it with more cinnamon.
Granulated sugar: for sweetness.
Light brown sugar: for sweetness and a bit of flavor. You can also use dark brown sugar here.
Corn starch: we will use a little bit of corn starch to thicken up the apple pie filling. If you do not have access to corn starch, you can substitute in double the amount of all purpose flour in it’s place.
For the streusel:
Unsalted butter: the base of the streusel, really what makes it buttery and delicious. You can use salted butter here as well!
Light brown sugar: sweetens and adds flavor to the streusel. I really recommend brown sugar for the best flavor but granulated sugar will work in a pinch! It will just be much lighter in color.
All purpose flour: adds structure to the streusel.
How to make apple pie brioche buns
While making brioche might seem hard and scary, it’s really super easy and most of the time you are just waiting for the dough to rise! I love to make my brioche the night before I want to bake it off just because it makes the process so much easier. But if you prefer to do it all in one day, that’s entirely possible as well! I will list the process for both ways.
1. Make the dough. Mix together the warm milk, sugar, and yeast and leave to rest until the mixture begins to foam. Then, combine all of the dough ingredients in a stand mixer and knead. You will know the dough is ready when it passes the windowpane test (more details later in the post!)
2. Let rise overnight. Optional, but I highly recommend it. It eliminates having to do all the work in one day and the dough takes on a bit more flavor. Once the dough is done kneading, butter the inside of the bowl, cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap, and place it in the fridge to rise overnight. If you are making this all in one day, simply butter the mixing bowl, cover it with plastic wrap or a towel and leave it out in a warm area for 1-1.5 hours, until the dough has doubled in size.
3. Make the apple pie filling. If you are making homemade apple pie filling, I would recommend making it first just because it is the most tedious part of the recipe. Here is my recipe for homemade apple pie filling. It will make much more than you need for this recipe, but it freezes wonderfully which is perfect for the next time you want some apple brioche buns, or my apple pie cookies!
4. Make the streusel. In a small microwave safe bowl, melt the butter. Add in the flour and brown sugar. Use a fork to mix the ingredients together until you have formed little clumps of dough.
5. Divide up the dough. Once the dough has finished rising (either overnight or same-day), lightly punch it down to remove any excess air in it. Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces, rolling each piece lightly into a ball.
6. Roll out the buns. Lightly flour a clean work surface and roll each bun into a circle that is ~4″ in diameter. Transfer the buns onto a parchment or silicone lined baking sheet, placing them evenly spaced apart to allow room for rising. Take the bottom of a bowl or cup that is ~3″ in diameter to slightly indent the center of each bun. Inside that circle, spread out ~2 tbsp. of apple pie filling.
7. Second rise. Leave the buns out in a warm environment to double in size (~30 min.) Once the buns have doubled in size, make an egg wash (1 egg + 1 tbsp. milk) and brush the sides of each bun. Top each bun with streusel.
8. Bake. Bake the buns at 350°F / 175°C for 15-20 minutes. The buns are done with they are slightly golden on the edges, but you can also use a thermometer to check for doneness (190°F / 88°C.)
9. Serve and enjoy! Serve these buns warm with your favorite cup of coffee or tea. Enjoy!
The windowpane test
The windowpane test is (in my opinion) the best way to tell that your dough has been properly kneaded. Once the dough starts to pull away from the sides and the bottom of the mixing bowl, it is most likely ready. However, just to be sure that it’s good to go I check if it passes the windowpane test. To do that, take some of the dough in your hands and start to slowly stretch it out. If it can get thin enough to where light passes through it before tearing, then it’s good to go! If not, keep kneading until it does!
How to store apple pie brioche buns
Is there anything better than fresh brioche? These will taste their best on the day that they are baked but will last in an airtight container at room temperature for ~2 days after baking. I recommend warming the buns for 5-10 seconds before serving.
Apple pie brioche buns Q & A
Can I double this recipe?
Yes! I can’t emphasize using a kitchen scale enough for especially this recipe already, but if you are going to double or half the ingredients it is even more important that you weigh your ingredients. The dough is very hydrated and slight alterations can change the texture of the dough.
Can I use instant yeast instead of active dry yeast?
Yes of course! Instead of mixing the heated milk, sugar, and yeast together, just pop all of the dough ingredients into your mixing bowl to start kneading. I do highly recommend refrigerating the dough overnight to make it easier to work with and more flavorful. However, if you are making the recipe all in one day, and using instant yeast, simply let the dough rest for just 10 minutes as the first rise, then proceed with the rest of the recipe.
Can I make the dough ahead of time?
Yes, and I highly recommend it! Brioche dough is a very enriched dough that can be hard to work with when warm. Simply knead the dough together, cover it, and leave it to rise in the fridge overnight. When ready to make the apple pie brioche buns simply take it out of the fridge and proceed with the recipe.
My yeast mixture isn’t foaming, what should I do?
The mixture should start foaming around 5 minutes in. If it has not foamed after 10 minutes, the yeast is likely dead. You want to make sure that the milk temperature does not exceed 110°F / 43°C or it will kill the yeast. If you try it again and it still does not foam, the yeast you are using may be expired and you will want to purchase some more before proceeding.
Why do you measure in grams?
My recipes are all written in grams because it is a more accurate way to bake. When you use a kitchen scale, you ensure that your baked goods turn out as close to the written recipe as possible. Plus, the cleanup is way easier when using a scale! I will provide standard cup measurements but please note that I have not tested the recipe using cup measurements. Here is my favorite kitchen scale, and here’s an article about why I use a kitchen scale, and why you should too!
A note on oven temperature.
Ovens vary and fluctuate in temperature. For example, I always have to set my oven to 330°F if I want it to bake at 350°F. If you love to bake like I do, I highly recommend getting an oven thermometer. They are super helpful for letting you know when your oven might be lying to you. I use this one.
Tools and ingredients
Cookie Sheet: I absolutely love USA pan products because of their great quality. I use their cookie sheet which is always the perfect size for all of my small batch cookies (and these buns!)
Silicone baking mat: parchment paper will always do the job, but I like to use a silicone mat when I can to try to cut down on waste. This is the one I use.
For a full list of tools, equipment and ingredients that I use and love, you can check out this page here.
Did you make these apple pie brioche buns?
If you made these apple pie brioche buns I would love to see them and know your thoughts! Please leave a comment and review down below, and tag me on Instagram @freshbeanbakery. If you have any questions about the recipe I will gladly do my best to answer them in the comments below!
Apple Pie Brioche Buns
- 60 g whole milk (¼ c.)
- 1 tsp. active dry yeast
- 1 tbsp. granulated sugar
- 160 g all purpose flour (1 ⅓ c.)
- ½ tsp. salt
- 1 egg room temperature
- 42 g unsalted butter (3 tbsp.) room temperature
- ¾ c. apple pie filling
- 28 g unsalted butter (2 tbsp.)
- 55 g light brown sugar (¼ c.)
- 80 g all purpose flour (scant ¾ c.)
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp. whole milk
- In a microwave safe measuring cup, heat the milk to 100°F / 38°C. Whisk in the yeast and the sugar. Set aside until the mixture begins to foam. (~5 minutes)
- While waiting, add the flour, salt, egg, and butter to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. When the yeast mixture begins to foam, add it in to the rest of the ingredients.
- Knead the dough on low speed for 1 minute to allow the ingredients to come together. Increase the speed to medium-high and knead for an additional 15 minutes, or until the dough passes the windowpane test. (This will happen after the dough has cleaned the sides and bottom of the bowl)
- At this point I would recommend covering the bowl with plastic wrap and leaving it to rise overnight in the fridge. If making the cake in one day, cover the bowl with a towel and leave it to rise in a warm environment until doubled in size (~1 hr.)
- In the meantime – if you plan on making homemade apple pie filling I would recommend making it at this point!
- In a small microwave safe bowl, melt the butter. Add in the flour and sugar, then use a fork to mix the ingredients together until you have formed small clumps of dough. Set aside.
- Once the dough has doubled in size (or after taking it out of the fridge after rising overnight), lightly punch it down to remove excess air.
- Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces, rolling each piece lightly into a ball
- Lightly flour a clean work surface and roll each bun into a circle that is ~4" in diameter. Transfer the buns onto a parchment or silicone lined baking sheet, placing them evenly spaced apart to allow room for rising.
- Take the bottom of a bowl or cup that is ~3" in diameter to slightly indent the center of each bun. Inside that circle, spread out ~2 tbsp. of apple pie filling.
- Leave the buns out in a warm environment to double in size (~30 min.) Once the buns have doubled in size, make an egg wash (1 egg + 1 tbsp. milk) and brush the sides of each bun. Top each bun with streusel.
- Bake the buns at 350°F / 175°C for 15-20 minutes. The buns are done with they are slightly golden on the edges, but you can also use a thermometer to check for doneness (190°F / 88°C.)
- Serve these buns warm with your favorite cup of coffee or tea. Enjoy!