When I started my first teaching job as a Family and Consumer Science a few years ago, I would always practice new recipes at home in advance so that I was fully prepared for any questions students may have during the actual lab. For the most part, I enjoyed testing new recipes out on the weekends and I know my husband never once complained! Prior to a few years ago, yeast scared me. To invest several hours into making bread from scratch didn’t sound appealing to me. After all, the store bought tasted pretty good and it only costs a few dollars for a loaf. But when my Culinary Skills class was about to cover the Yeast Unit, I knew I had to up my game and practice with the unpredictable ingredient: yeast!
I am happy to say that yeast isn’t all that scary after all. And it’s not all that unpredictable either! Lately I’ve been making one or two baked goods a week using yeast. Homemade whole wheat buns are our new favorite and I usually whip those up when it looks like a beautiful night to grill burgers.
When I was student teaching, the FACS teacher I was teaching under had her students prepare a cool-rise sweet dough recipe for caramel or cinnamon rolls. She was so calm and collected while demonstrating. She acted like yeast was no big deal. So that was another indicator that I needed to get over my fear of yeast and make some of those delicious rolls!
Every year my students prepare caramel rolls and it’s one of their favorite labs. Anyone that’s ever make caramel rolls from scratch knows that it can’t be done in a 52 minute class period. Which is what I love about this cool-rise method. They rise in the fridge overnight which makes it possible prepare in a classroom. Day one students make the dough, shape into a ball, and place in the fridge to rise overnight. Day two students punch the dough down and shape into rolls. Day three I pop them in the oven so that they’re ready to eat once students arrive. Sometimes I squish this into two days, but students have to come in during their lunch hour to punch the dough and shape into rolls. Although the recipe I have my students prepare is slightly different than the one I’m going to share below, they both have the same concept of prepared in advance.
I made these caramel rolls this past weekend mostly by my husband’s request. I prepared the dough Saturday afternoon which didn’t take much time at all. And when Sunday morning arrived, our son thought 6 am was a good time to wake up to start the day. This allowed for a little one-on-one time as my husband slept in a bit. Which also allowed me time to preheat the oven and bake the rolls so he could walk out to the delicious smells of CARAMEL ROLLLLSSSSS.
Make-Ahead Caramel Rolls
1 c milk
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (or 1-.25 oz package)
1/4 c warm water
2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3-4 c flour
1 c brown sugar
1/2 c butter
2 Tbsp corn syrup
2 Tbsp butter, softened
1/4 c sugar
1 Tbsp cinnamon
- Warm the milk in the microwave until warm, about 1 minute. Let cool slightly.
- In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water, add the sugar, oil, and salt. Let sit until creamy and bubbly – about ten minutes.
- To the yeast mixture, add 1 c of the flour, baking powder, and egg. Mix with an electric hand mixer until thoroughly combined.
- Continue to add 1/2 c of flour at a time until the dough is too think to mix with an electric hand mixer. Switch to a sturdy rubber scraper to form the dough into a ball. When the dough is easy to handle, dump onto a lightly floured counter and knead until smooth. Slowly adding in flour until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.
- Lightly oil a glass bowl and place dough in the bowl. Cover with a cloth and let rest until doubled in size, about 1-2 hours.
- While dough is resting, prepare caramel sauce by warming the butter and brown sugar together in a sauce pan until smooth. Remove from heat and add the corn syrup. Pour into a 9×13 inch pan.
- After dough has doubled, punch dough and roll on a lightly floured counter to the size of 8″x12″. Spread with softened butter, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Roll into a log by first taking one of the two long sides and rolling like a sleeping bag. Pinch edges to seal. W
- With a serrated knife, cut into one-inch slices and lay cut side up in pan. Cover with plastic wrap and place in fridge for 12-48 hours.
- When ready to bake, take out the rolls, remove plastic wrap, and let warm on the counter for 30-60 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and bake for 20-30 minutes, until rolls are golden.
- Cover a jelly roll pan with aluminum foil and flip rolls onto prepared pan, allowing for easy clean up with the stinky caramel sauce.