If you’ve ever read my blog you know that I am terrified of yeast.
I am the baker that will avoid a recipe calling for yeast like it’s the plague. I’ve tried honoring the yeast gods a few times before, and they were both epic fails.
I don’t understand yeast. It doesn’t like me. It senses my fear and decides, “Oh let’s mess with this chump who has a false sense of security in her baking skills.
But for some reason this recipe encouraged me to face my fears and have faith. I decided to give it a go. It also helped that Paul stated one of my teaching philosophies while searching for yeast in the grocery store, “Mistakes make your brain grow stronger.” Followed by, “This is complicated, we’ll do it together.” So grateful for a patient and very helpful wingman.
Terrified in my lack of yeast success, I followed the instructions to “proof the yeast,” with a nervousness like the opening night for the lead actor on Broadway. We (Paul and me, while also wrestling with our fire place to have a cozy Sunday morning fire) overheated the milk. Having a few minutes so that the milk could cool down to a lukewarm temperature, I talked and sang to the yeast. Yes, I told the yeast how happy I was to be baking with it. Yes, I sang a happy song to it in the hopes that my grammy award winning words and voice would sooth the yeast gods into “proofing.” Well…
The beautiful foam that had formed in 10 minutes sang right back to me! It was the first time the yeast and I got along. I was so excited that I actually cried out, “Oh my gosh, it worked!”
And that’s where it all went wrong.
Sadly, I was so focused on the yeast that I lost track of the flour. I used 2 and 3/4 cups of flour, and I even added a bit more. But in doing so, I was scared to add too much flour and overwork the dough. I naively thought the dough was pulling away from the walls of the bowl… yeah, nope!
By the time I was stupidly kneading extremely wet dough (knowing this was completely wrong) and contemplating whether to try it all again, our friend stopped by to show Paul the new/old long board (surfboard) he had just bought. Well after the introduction of the board, we all sat down to catch up. Of course I asked, “Do you want some water or tea or a mimosa minus the orange juice?” Needless to say, we enjoyed a bottle of Costco’s finest proseco.
With all of that said, I did learn from my mistake. I learned that if I talk and sing to yeast before I “proof” it, it will happily sing back. No seriously, I learned not to be scared of yeast. It’s all about learning, making mistakes, and trying again. This is not my last round with this recipe.
Slow Cooker Cinnamon Rolls (recipe care of sallysbakingaddiction.com)
Rolls: 3/4 cup (180ml) whole milk, 1 packet instant yeast (1 packet = 2 and 1/4 teaspoons), 1/4 cup + 1 teaspoon (55g) granulated sugar (divided), 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 cup (4 Tablespoons; 60g) unsalted butter (melted and slightly cooled), 1 large egg, 2 and 3/4 cups (345g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
Filling: 5 Tablespoons (72g) unsalted butter (very soft), 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon, 1/3 cup (67g) granulated sugar
Icing: 1 and 1/4 cups (150g) confectioners’ sugar, 2 Tablespoons (30ml) pure maple syrup (or use 1 teaspoon vanilla extract), 2 Tablespoons (30ml) milk
Rolls: Make the dough: Warm the milk over on the stove over low heat or microwave it until lukewarm. No need to use a thermometer, but to be precise: about 95°F (35°C). Pour the warm milk into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook or paddle attachment (OR you can use a handheld mixer). Whisk in the yeast and 1 teaspoon granulated sugar. Cover with a clean towel and let sit until the yeast is foamy, about 5-10 minutes. This is called proofing the yeast. If the yeast does not dissolve and foam, start over with fresh active yeast. On low speed, beat in the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, salt, butter, egg, and 2 cups of flour until combined. The dough will be wet. While continuing to beat on low speed, add the remaining flour 1/4 cup at a time until a soft dough forms. Dough will be ready when it gently pulls away from the sides of the bowl. I usually use 2 and 3/4 cups flour total. **If you do not have a mixer, you can stir the dough by hand with a wooden spoon in this step. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, then knead for 1 minute. Let the dough rest for about 10 minutes. During this 10 minutes, line a 4 or 5 quart slow cooker with greased parchment paper. (I spray it with non-stick spray, but brushing oil or softened butter all over it works too.) If you have a larger slow cooker, that’s ok– just space the rolls out more. Make the filling: After 10 minutes, roll the dough out in a 14×8 inch rectangle. Spread the softened butter on top. Mix the cinnamon and sugar together, then sprinkle on top of the butter. Roll the dough up tightly, then cut into 10-12 even pieces and place them inside the lined slow cooker. Place a paper towel right under the lid of the slow cooker– this will help keep condensation off of the cooking rolls. Do not leave that step out and do not use a cloth towel. Turn your slow cooker on high speed and cook for 2 hours, or until the rolls are fully cooked through. It’s usually 2 hours, sometimes 2 hours and 15 minutes. Once they’re done, remove the rolls from the cooker right away by lifting out the parchment paper.
Icing: Make the icing: Right before serving, top your cinnamon rolls with glaze. Whisk the confectioners’ sugar, maple syrup, and milk together until smooth. Add a little more milk if too thick. Drizzle over the warm rolls.
Rolls are best enjoyed the same day, but stay fresh covered tightly in the refrigerator for 5 days. Rolls (with or without icing) freeze well up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and heat up however you prefer.
Notes (from the baker)
- Overnight Instructions: This dough can be made the night before through step 3 and placed into a greased pie dish or cake pan. Cover with plastic wrap and keep in the refrigerator overnight. The next morning, remove from the refrigerator and place each roll into the lined slow cooker. Then continue with the recipe. The rolls may take less time, around 1 and 1/2 hours.
- Quick Dough: This is a dough formulated to be “quick.” Make sure you are using an instant yeast. If using active dry yeast, the cook time will be longer.
- Golden Brown Tops: Looking for a golden brown and toasty top? Remove the cooked rolls from the slow cooker using the parchment paper to lift them out. Then, place the entire thing (the parchment paper and rolls) into an appropriate size pan. (If your slow cooker is round, a pie dish would be great.) Bake at 300°F (149°C) for 5-10 minutes.
- Slow Cooker: You’ll need a 4 or 5 quart slow cooker. Here is the one I own.
- Reference my Baking with Yeast Guide for answers to common yeast FAQs.