Just when you thought you had escaped my parade of apple recipes… Kapow!…I smack you with another one. And this one even goes along with the bread kick that I’ve been on this Fall. Hey, it is technically still Fall and although Christmas is not far off, I am not ready to start thinking about it yet. Though I am sad to say that I have been hearing Christmas music in all of the stores since way before Thanksgiving even arrived. I don’t think it had the store’s intended effect on me. I was not filled with the Christmas spirit and inspired to shop. Instead, in a distinctly Grinch like fashion, I became very irritated and with clenched teeth, left the store as quickly as I could manage.
But enough of my issues, let’s move on to happier topics, like these adorable little Apple Butter Yeast Rolls. I originally saw them over at the Spicy Perspective blog and was very excited about them for several reasons. Firstly because Apple Butter was the star ingredient. I do love Apple Butter! And second because they are yeast rolls. I’ve already let you in on my bread obsession. But the thing that really caught my attention is that they were cooked in a crock pot. That’s right, slow cooker Yeast Rolls. Whaaaat??? I was incredibly intrigued. Sommer, from the Spicy Perspective, claimed that she loved to bake bread in this manner because she seems to have been cursed with always burning the bread that she tries to bake in the oven, whereas a slow cooker was just slow enough that she was able to dodge the curse. I don’t really seem to have been afflicted with this curse. My thing is that I can’t cook rice. My husband is the rice cooking pro. His rice is always perfect, very fluffy and tender. Mine, no matter how carefully I measure out the ingredients, comes out as a big gummy blob. Yuck! We are able to work around this though. I simply always get him to make the rice and everyone is much happier!
Anyhoo…..Bread burning curses aside, I could see how it could be very convenient to cook bread in a slow cooker. Like during the Holidays for instance. I only have one oven and sometimes it can be quite tricky figuring out which dish will go in a which time. I couldn’t wait to try this slow cooker technique. So I whipped up the dough and formed the two separate batches of 12. Here is where the experimental part of my baking day took place. I baked one batch in the crock pot and one in the oven. Let me just say, both versions yielded delicious moist apple-y delights! And although the crock pot version definitely worked, I preferred the oven baked batch. The crock pot rolls were very moist and tender due to the steaming action of the crock pot, however they looked a bit anemic and didn’t have that same satisfying crunch of the outer crust that their oven-baked cousins had.
That being said, the crock pot rolls were indeed tasty and if you were scarce on oven space when cooking your next feast, this method of bread baking is great to know. And I got two batches of Apple Butter Yeast Rolls which I was able to scarf down in the name of science. Now I declare that a win!
Apple Butter Yeast Rolls
recipe slightly adapted from: A Spicy Perspective
- 2 1/4 teaspoons dry active yeast (1 packet)
- 1/2 cup warm water (98 – 105°F)
- 3 Tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 cup apple butter (if you are feeling industrious, make up a batch of my Drunken Granny Apple Butter, or grab a jar from your local farmer’s market)
- 1 egg
- 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 cups bread flour
- 2 Tablespoons melted butter
- 2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar or Cinnamon/ Sugar mix (add 2 teaspoons cinnamon to 1/4 cup of granulated sugar)
Using an electric mixer with a bread hook, place the warm water and sugar in the mixing bowl. Sprinkle the yeast over the water and let it foam for 10 minutes.
Then turn on the mixer and add the apple butter, egg and salt. Slowly add the flour. Once all the flour is in the bowl, add the melted butter. “Knead” the dough with the bread hook for 5-8 minutes.
The dough will be smooth, but very tacky. Dump it out onto a floured work surface. Using a floured knife, cut the dough into 4 quarters. Then cut each quarter into 6 equal pieces, to make 24 small dough segments.
Turn the ends of each dough segment under to create little balls.
At this point, you must decide whether you want to try the crock pot method or traditional oven baking method. If you would like to try the crock pot version, place a large piece of parchment paper in a 6 quart slow cooker, and press down. Arrange 12 dough balls in the slow cooker. Then carefully lift the parchment paper out, and repeat with the remaining dough balls and another piece of parchment, creating two separate batches. Place the lid on the crockpot and cover the additional dough balls on the counter, with plastic wrap. Allow them to rise for 1 hour at room temperature. *At this point the dough balls could be put in the fridge for up to a week, until ready to bake.
Gently brush melted butter over the rolls and sprinkle them with a little brown sugar or cinnamon sugar mix. Turn the slow cooker on high and “bake” for 60-90 minutes, depending on your crockpot. To test, touch the top of the rolls. If they feel slightly firm and are no longer tacky, the rolls are ready. Repeat with the second batch of dough balls. Each batch will cook for 60-90 minutes, 3 hrs total.
If you would rather go with the oven method, preheat the oven to 450°F. Allow rolls to rise for 1 hour, covered on parchment covered baking sheets. When ready to bake, gently brush melted butter over the rolls and sprinkle them with a little brown sugar or cinnamon sugar mix. Place trays in the oven for 10 minutes, then rotate the sheets and turn the temperature down to 400°F for about 8 more minutes, until they are golden brown. Let cool on wire racks.
Apple Butter Yeast Rolls brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)