slow cooker brown bread rolls

Slow Cooker Brown Bread Rolls

‘Tis the season for the slow cooker to make its annual trip from the lower cabinet near my sink to its rightful place upon my already cramped breakfast bar. (Typical Manhattan Apartment Life, yo.) I know most people will use their slow cooker year round, but I’m strictly an autumn and winter user. It’s just how I roll. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I’ve been searching the World Wide Interwebz for new and unique ways to use my slow cooker beyond just making soups or shredded meats. Creating slow-cooker desserts intrigues me, but I’m looking outside of the realm of that, for now. On a well-spent work lunch break, I stumbled upon a recipe for slow cooker bread. BINGO! This was the unique recipe that I had been craving! Via Kleinworth & Co., I decided to give their recipe for Slow Cooker Black Bread a roll. (Get it? Roll? Yeeeah, I love those bad puns. Bless you if you continue to read this post. Ha!)

slow cooker brown bread rolls

Now, the first time I made this recipe, I questioned it. I followed its directions and measurements to an absolute T, minus using instant coffee (or any coffee!) in my mix. I would like to think that that simple omission wouldn’t affect the integrity of my dough. That being said…by the time I got to the step in which I had to knead the dough, it was nothing short of batter in my bowl. Granted, I was doing this by hand and not with a dough hook; with the insanity of my post-bedbug extermination coming to a close, I still have my Kitchen Aid mixer tucked away in a place that’s not easily accessible. The original recipe called for 2 & 1/2 cups of flour, total. By the time I was finished adding in additional 1/2 cup increments, I was up to 4 cups of flour! By that point, I had achieved a kneadable texture. Also, the cooking time on the original recipe definitely varied from the time I took to bake it (90 minutes in the original vs. 2 hours for mine), however, that didn’t shock me since all slow cookers are not made equal.

slow cooker brown bread rolls

You know what? WHATEVER. I ended up making rolls that were so delectable, the trial and error was worth it. These rolls are wonderful! The molasses and chocolate infuse them with the most wonderful smoky sweetness! I brought them over to a friend’s house for his parents and brother, and they were all fans as well! I’m glad they enjoyed them. I wouldn’t want to be kicked out of their house. 😏 I think these rolls would be a hit on any dinner table in these cold months ahead, especially at Thanksgiving. *hint hint*

slow cooker brown bread rolls

Of note, these babies are WONDERFUL slathered with some homemade pumpkin butter, also cooked up in my slow cooker! (On a different occasion though, but of course.) I made some based on this recipe by Practical Stewardship, and I can absolute vouch for it. Mmmmm!

slow cooker brown bread rolls

Slow Cooker Brown Bread Rolls
(Recipe adapted from Kleinworth & Co’s recipe for Slow Cooker Black Bread)
(Makes approximate 10 – 12 rolls)

Ingredients:

– 1 cup warmed milk, dairy or non-dairy
– 1 tablespoon rapid-rise yeast
– 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
– 2 & 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (see Before We Get Started…)
– 1/2 agave nectar
– 1/4 cup honey
– 2 teaspoons molasses
– 1 tablespoon cocoa
– 1 tablespoon sugar
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 1/8 cup old fashioned rolled oats (optional, to sprinkle on top of rolls)

Before We Get Started…

– As I mentioned in the prelude, the amount of dough I used to create this differed a fair amount from what I used based on the original recipe. After trial and error, I’d say to start with using the aforementioned 2 & 3/4 cups of flour. If the bread dough still seems too sticky to knead after Step #3, add more flour in 1/4 cup increments and mix until the dough yields a kneadable texture.

– Feel free to use 3/4 cup honey in place of the 1/2 cup agave nectar & 1/4 cup honey mix.

Directions:

1.) Line slow cooker with a large piece of parchment paper and carefully mold to the outline as best as possible. Lightly spray parchment paper with cooking oil or use one tablespoon of vegetable oil and spread with basting brush or clean paper towel.

2.) Heat milk in a mircowave or a small saucepan until just warmed to the touch; do not allow milk to bubble. In a large bowl, add warmed milk and sugar, then sprinkle yeast on top. Do not mix; wait five minutes for yeast to begin to bloom, then mix until combined.

3.) Add part of the flour (1 & 1/2 cups), salt, butter, and molasses to the yeast mixture. Stir until combined, then let dough rest for 5 minutes. Add the remaining flour, cocoa, agave nectar, and honey. Stir until combined; at this point, the dough should start to take on a doughier and kneadable consistency. (Please see Before We Get Started… if your batter is still a little bit sticky.)

4.) Sprinkle flour on a flat, clean surface. Turn dough onto surface and knead for 10 minutes or until dough is uniformly elastic. Sprinkle dough with additional flour when kneading, if necessary.

5.) Pull off pieces of dough and shape into rolls, rolls should fit in palm of your hand, about twice the size of a golf ball. Place rolls together in parchment paper-lined slow cooker; it is fine if rolls touch. If you have a smaller slow cooker (such as I do!), it is fine to layer the rolls if not all of them can fit on a singular level. Conversely, you can wrap additional dough tightly in plastic and store in the fridge to bake later. (Such as I DID.) Sprinkle dough with (optional) oatmeal.

6.) Cover rolls and turn on slow cooker to High. Cook for 90 minutes; if rolls are still tacky to the touch or do not not have hard exteriors, cook for up to an additional 30 minutes. These rolls should be finished by the two hour mark!

7.) When rolls are finished baking, turn off slow cooker and remove top. Allow rolls to sit for 10 minutes before removing. After 10 minutes, remove and place rolls on a wire rack to cool. Eat immediately after cooling or wrap firmly in plastic wrap to maintain freshness.

Orange Ginger Scones

I’m trying to recall why I was ever intimidated by making scones. For years, I was. I’m racking my brain, trying to figure out that exact rationale; on the whole, I just recall being told that they are easy to mess up. There is a fine line between making a batch that is moist enough but not too dry, as the hallmark of a good scone is a slight crumble. For Christmas 2014, I took a leap of faith and whipped up a batch of cranberry scones at 7 that morning, feeling inspired yet nervous. I was worried that my failure in making edible ones would result in ruining such a precious day for my family. (Dramatic, much?) The integration of the cold butter was a bit cumbersome, and I hazily recall asking one of my parents to scrape the dough off of my hand at one juncture. However, 30 minutes later, we were happily munching on scones that were dense yet not overwhelming, crispy but not dry, and bursting with juicy cranberries.

I could handle scone making.

I make them rarely, but I love to experiment when I do. (Note: Roasted Grape Scones will show up on this site sooner than later!) I find it hard to make a smaller recipe because, one, I don’t always feel like doing the math to halve or third it (…lazy…), and two, I love sharing them with roommates, friends, and co-workers. In fact, one of my co-workers has one scone recipe down to a science. Hers, with a traditional smattering of currants, are everything a quintessential scone should be. In fact, they inspired a hashtag you may seen on my Instagram feed on days I’m lucky enough to eat her baked goods: #dammitjeanmarie. However, she is a self-admitted purist; she has told me that the only filling within a scone should be currants. I respect that, so I’ll let her make hers, and I’ll allow myself to go the more experimental route. At least we aren’t competing. Ha!

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Oh, and I learned a cool trick from my father a few months back. When it comes to certain desserts, you may see an instruction that strikes fear in the hearts of many: cutting butter into flour. Growing up, I never had a pastry cutter; I had my hands and my fingers! I do remember attempting to slam a whisk into a chunk of butter many a year ago, and the results of that were as follows: the butter got pushed into the middle of the whisk and I had to fish it out. I thought the use of the whisk as a makeshift pastry-cutting instrument was ingenious, but…yeeeeah. Hindsight was 20/20. I went back to my hands and fingers after that. When I was home in Connecticut this past October for my birthday, my dad made my favorite dessert: apple crisp! Of course, he tops with with a flour and butter-based brown sugar crumble. As I watched him make it, I noted how he had a frozen stick of butter and a cheese grater. I was intrigued. What did he do? He grated the frozen butter! It made its incorporation into the flour and brown sugar much simpler. Ahhh, my father, the culinary genius…

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Cheers to Monday, y’all! Pop a scone to get you though this morning.

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Orange Ginger Scones
(Makes 8)

Ingredients:

– 2 & 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
– 1/3 cup sugar
– 12 tablespoons (1 & 1/2 sticks) butter, cubed or shredded while frozen
– 1 tablespoon baking powder
– 3/4 cup heavy cream, plus 2 tablespoons, divided
– 1 teaspoon orange zest
– 1 tablespoon freshly-squeezed orange juice, plus 1 teaspoon, divided
– 3/4 cup candied ginger, finely chopped
– 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar

Before We Get Started…

– Be prepared: when mixing this dough with your hands, it is exceedingly sticky!

Directions:

1.) Preheat oven to 400°F.

2.) In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, orange zest, and baking powder. Whisk thoroughly to combine.

3.) Add butter to dry ingredients; mix with hands or a pastry cutter until the mixture is crumbly and mealy. Form a well in the middle of the mixture and add 3/4 cup of heavy cream and 1 tablespoon freshly-squeezed orange juice. Use hands to combine mixture until all ingredients are incorporated.

4.) Turn dough onto a floured surface and lightly knead for no more than 30 seconds. Form dough into a rough shape, approximately 10 inches in diameter. Cut into 8 triangular slices.

5.) Place scones on parchment paper-covered baking sheet. Combine two tablespoons of heavy cream and 1 teaspoon freshly-squeezed orange juice. Brush tops with cream mixture and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Bake for 14 – 16 minutes, or until tops are lightly browned and slightly cracked.

6.) Place on wire rack to cool before eating. Store remaining scones in an airtight container.

Banana Oat Bread

I have a true love / hate relationship with bananas. As an extremely picky eater through my childhood, I did not eat bananas regularly until I was 23. The reasoning? The little dark seeds in the middle. I know. That’s beyond reason. I’m even embarrassed to admit it. (Tales of my absurdly picky childhood eating habits may be visited, occasionally, at future juncture…)

sliced-bananas

Those scary dark seeds! (Photo courtesy of To Live & Diet in L.A. This is a great visual of more former torture. Haaa.) 

I gained my love of bananas in an odd way: In June 2008, I had a minor surgery. No big deal, just the removal of a benign football-sized tumor in my spleen. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ While I was holed up in a hospital bed for a few days, I was attached to a potassium drip…and it was one of the most painful experiences of my entire life. The solution is acidic. Imagining an incessant burning in your arm for four hours straight for four consecutive days. I was told I had low potassium levels, which was why I was being infused daily. I then decided that banana consumption was a much better option. I could not eat enough of them after my discharge! I was convinced they were my cure to all life’s ills. (Well, at least for that part of my life.)

A beautiful mess.

Growing up, however, I loved banana bread. Chunks of the fruit nor those black seeds were visible; out of sight, out of mind, I suppose. (Refer to the last sentence of my first paragraph. If my parents are reading this now, I’m sure they’re laughing hysterically.)  I found myself making it constantly, but as I’ve grown older and wiser about my eating habits, I look back on many of the recipes I had used and cringe a little. I find a typical recipe calls for a stick of butter, a cup of sugar, one to two cups of white flour, and sometimes added oils. Though I wouldn’t call my version the epitome of a healthy breakfast, I make it less of a guilty nosh with reduced sugar, plain Greek yogurt, chia seeds, and oats. I’ve tinkered with this recipe a lot over the few months…and dammit, I think I finally nailed it! WOOHOO!

Banana Oat Bread

Banana Oat Bread
(Serves 4 – 6)

Ingredients:

– 3 ripe bananas
– 2 eggs, room temperature
– 1 & 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
– 1 cup rolled oats
– 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
– 1/2 cup brown sugar
– 1 tablespoon chia seeds
– 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
– 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
– 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Before We Get Started…

– All-purpose flour can be used in place of white whole wheat flour, or a mix can be created with 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour and 3/4 cup all-purpose flour.

– I prefer brown sugar to white sugar in my bread, but white sugar can easily be substituted. I prefer Domino’s Pourable Brown Sugar for ease of mixing.

– I prefer to use a 9″ x 9″ pan to make my bread. Though it may not turn into a loaf in the tradition sense with this method, it works just fine. I find the denseness and texture do not differentiate between either two pans.

Directions: 

1.) Preheat oven to 350 °F. Grease baking pan and set aside.

2.) In plastic bowl, smash peeled bananas with a fork until desired consistency. Add yogurt, eggs, sugar, and vanilla. Mix until combined.

3.) In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, baking soda, oats, cinnamon, nutmeg, and chia seeds. Mix until combined.

4.) Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and gently fold / mix until combined.

5.) Add batter to greased pan and bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center. Upon completion, remove from oven and allow to cool in pan for 15 – 20 minutes on top of cooling rack. If using bread pan, gently remove from pan and place on cooling rack. If using 9″ x 9″ pan, slice into squares after initial cooling time; bread can be left in pan, if desired.

Banana Oat Bread