Today, I’m making “Whole Wheat Rolls” using my Instant Pot. These flavorful rolls have a hint of molasses flavor due to the Louisiana Steen’s Cane Syrup which I added. What does an Instant Pot have to do with making yeast rolls? One of the most difficult steps in baking breads, in my opinion, is finding a warm spot in my kitchen which is just right for the dough to rise. Too hot, and the dough is hard as a rock. Too cold, the dough never rises. I’ve had so many flops. I was excited to learn that my new Instant Pot has two modes — Yogurt and Sous Vide — which can be used for the first dough proofing step. I’m experimenting today. I am using a food processor for mixing and kneading the dough, so this recipe is super simple.
There is nothing more relaxing that sitting outside in the cool, early morning sun and eating breakfast, watching the activity in my backyard; perhaps doing my daily Wordle puzzle. Early morning sunlight helps set a person’s circadian clock for the day which regulates a person’s sleep-awake cycle as well as many hormonals functions in the body. And, I sure need this. A person’s circadian rhythm is closely related to sunlight. Exposure to light in the morning triggers your brain to produce less melatonin and helps with day-time alertness. Subsequently, this helps you fall asleep at night. If only we could bottle sunlight — well, we’ve bottled melatonin. According to a research review article in Science Daily, “A mutation in a gene called CRY1 alters the human circadian clock, which dictates rhythmic behavior such as sleep/wake cycles. Carriers of the gene variant experienced nighttime sleep delays of 2-2.5 hours compared to non-carriers.” (See Reference) So, if you are a night owl, stop feeling guilty. A mutated gene could be the cause of your night time awake fullness!
My whole wheat rolls — reheated in the toaster — along with some jam and butter and a glass of juice make a great breakfast for my backyard daily sun therapy.
Although I love to bake bread, I go through phases where I bake bread frequently and then again I may stop making bread totally. Expiring packages of Fleishmann’s Yeast in my kitchen cabinet is what has inspired me to start baking again. During the pandemic last year, I could not find instant yeast in any grocery store. One manager explained that folks were baking bread while they stayed at home during the covid pandemic which led to a yeast shortage. While I found that explanation hard to believe, I could not find yeast anywhere and therefore, I didn’t bake bread. When Fleishmann’s Yeast became available again, I guess I “hoarded” lots of packets. Now they are expiring and so I am back to baking bread and rolls.
Easy Whole Wheat Roll Recipe
While using whole wheat in bread adds fiber, nutritional value and a wonderful nutty flavor, using this type of flour can also be a little tricky. Whole wheat flour absorbs moisture making a very dense dough and bread — sometimes as hard as a rock. Since the whole wheat dough is moist, it is also very sticky. It is tempting to add too much flour which also makes a dense bread. I use my food processor to do all the kneading. This eliminates the guesswork of kneading by hand and makes this a very simple recipe. My recipe makes a relatively small batch of bread scaled to fit into a food processor for kneading. Let’s not blow up the motor of the food processor!
Here are some tips which I learned after making many batches of bread and rolls to make easy, whole wheat rolls:
- Of course, always check the expiration date on the yeast packet. Yes, expired yeast does not rise as I have learned the hard way. I used rapid-rise yeast. In general terms, this yeast works quickly — you must pay attention to the dough – especially the second proofing step.
- Only substitute half of the all-purpose or bread flour in a recipe with whole wheat flour. This seems to help control the denseness of the dough and makes it easier to mix up the rolls. These rolls are “tacky.” Don’t add too much flour, or the rolls will be too dense.
- Add eggs and butter, which makes a richer “challah” type dough. This helps make a pliable whole wheat dough.
- I used buttermilk powder rather than milk as I was out of milk. These recipe calls for milk — the buttermilk powder worked as a substitute.
- I added a little Louisiana Steen’s Cane Syrup for flavor and sweetness. Why not? This is Louisiana. This syrup gave the rolls a tiny hint of molasses flavor.
- Use a heavy duty food processor to mix and knead the dough. If I had an electric mixer with a dough attachment, that would be great. But I don’t. My heavy duty Cuisinart food processor has served me well for many years. Using the food processor, I can blend all the ingredients, add flour in small batches to get the right consistency, and knead the dough.
Using Instant Pot to Proof Dough
Using my Instant Pot for the first proofing step really helped make this recipe successful. In my Louisiana air-conditioned home, it is hard to find a draft-free, warm spot to let the dough rise. Although I often turn the oven on briefly and set the dough in the oven, it is still difficult to regulate the temperature of the large bowl of dough.
The “Sous Vide” setting on my Instant Pot worked perfectly. I set the “Sous Vide” temperature to 90 degrees Fahrenheit and the time to one hour. (Okay, to a little over one hour.) It takes about 10 – 15 minutes for the Instant Pot to reach 90 degrees, so I started the Instant Pot on “Sous Vide” while preparing the dough.
When using the “Sous Vide” mode, you don’t use the lock-on lid which comes with the Instant Pot. A clear glass lid is preferred. An old aluminum pie pan worked for me — it is easy to remove and check the dough.
The “Sous Vide” mode of an Instant Pot is traditionally used to keep the water in the inner pot at a constant temperature. The food — placed in vacuum-sealed plastic bags — is slowly cooked in the temperature-controlled water bath. For making bread, since the inner pot is maintained at 90 degrees F (or whatever temperature you choose), the bread dough is kept at a nice, warm and constant temperature. The dough rises slightly quicker than usual, which is a nice “perk.” I took photos on my camera (or cell phone) to tell when the dough doubled in size — my recipe batch doubled in size in 45 minutes. At this point, cancel any remaining time on the Instant Pot, turning off the appliance.
After the rolls are shaped, it doesn’t work to use the Instant Pot for the second proofing step. I like to use a pan with tall sides — easy to cover with a damp towel. I set the pan in a warm oven (mine has a 180 degree Fahrenheit setting) for 30 minutes.
Then bake in a 375 degree oven. After baking, I spread just a little butter on the tops to tenderize the crust. These rolls are tender and flavorful!
It is so simple to make these rolls using a food processor and Instant Pot (for the first proofing). I am pleased that my “back-to-baking” recipe was successful. These rolls are so flavorful. They are best when served hot — right out of the oven — or reheated in a microwave or toaster. Enjoy!
Steen's Cane Syrup Whole Wheat rolls
- 1 (0.25 oz) pkg dry Fleischmann’s RapidRise Yeast
- 1 water, warmed to 110 degrees Fahrenheit
- 2 large eggs
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened plus 1 to 2 Tbsp butter, for brushing rolls after baking
- 1/4 cup Steen’s Cane Syrup
- 2 Tbsp cultured buttermilk powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour (divided)
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 2 Tbsp oil, for oiling Instant Pot inner bowl
Method and Steps:
- Set Instant Pot mode to “Sous Vide” with temperature set to 90 degrees Fahrenheit and time to 60 minutes. Instant Pot will heat while mixing dough.
- Heat water (I used microwave) to 110 degrees Fahrenheit. (To test temperature, when you put a finger in the water, it should feel hot, but not so hot that you have to quickly remove your finger.) Add yeast packet to warmed water and set aside. Yeast should begin to bubble.
- In large food processor bowl, add eggs. Pulse several times to blend.
- Add softened butter, Steen’s Cane Syrup, cultured buttermilk powder and salt. Pulse to blend. Note: ingredients may not be completely emulsified.
- Add 1 cup all-purpose flour and 1 cup whole wheat flour. Run food processor on continuous setting, to blend the dough ingredients.
- Add remaining 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour, several tablespoons at a time, and pulse to knead. The dough should begin to pull away from the sides of the food processor bowl. It will feel tacky but not sticky. Pulse to knead for several minutes.
- Place oil in bottom of the inner bowl of Instant Pot. Remove dough from food processor, shape into round ball and place in oiled Instant Pot bowl. Turn dough over to coat all sides with oil. Place either a glass lid or foil loosely on Instant Pot. Do not use sealing lid which came with Instant Pot.
- Make sure the Instant Pot is still in “Sous Vide” and that it is turned on — either pre-heating or heating. When the Instant Pot reaches 90 degrees, it will maintain this temperature for the full hour.
- Check the dough in 30 minutes and 45 minutes and, if necessary, at the one hour time mark. When the dough has doubled in size, remove from Instant Pot and cancel any remaining time on the “Sous Vide” mode. Make sure the Instant Pot is turned off.
- Oil a rectangular baking pan, 8″ x 11″ x 2″ height.
- Place the dough on lightly floured pastry board. Pat into a rectangle, approximately 8″ x 12″. With a knife, score into 12 pieces. Shape the pieces into small balls and place in oiled baking pan.
- Cover with damp dish towel and place in warm spot in kitchen. (I turn oven to 180 degrees.) Let rolls set until they have doubled in size, approximately 30 minutes.
- Heat oven to 375 degrees. Remove damp towel from rolls. Bake rolls for 30 minutes or until nicely browned on top.
- Remove from oven and brush with butter.
- Best when served warm. If needed, re-heat in microwave or split rolls and toast in toaster.