My Grandma is such a lovely, sweet, tender hearted woman and these apple rolls are her recipe from over 100 years ago at least (although I did modernize them with butter instead of lard)
I loved going to Grandma’s house, sitting on her lap to read a bazillion stories and have her tickle my arms or back until both of us were out cold. She still lives in the same, cute house in Jerome, Idaho and I don’t know that many people had a backyard quite like her’s. We would have summer picnics where all the cousins would come over and we’d run around playing games while the adults prepared the food and Grandma made homemade ice cream.
The weather was always perfect, the grass green and the trees were strong and tall to climb in. You could always find my older sister up in an apple or apricot tree reading another book.We loved visiting the cows on the farm to give them bottles, collecting “cat tails”, playing in the ditch, and creating “circus acts on the swing set during family picnics under the fruit trees. Grandma’s house is and was magical.
This Apple Roll recipe has sooo much sentimental value to me. This is a recipe that just keeps getting passed down through the generations, and I cannot wait to teach my darling girls to make them for their families. Grandma says that this recipe was passed down through the “Mamas” to their new families clear until it got to my mom, who hates cooked apples and dropped the ball. I’m lucky that Grandma taught me to make them so I can continue the tradition. I love how much she loves this recipe and her memories of her mother making them and the kids being so excited and mouths just watering while they waited to eat them.
Here’s what Grandma has to say about the rolls,
“We used to be so hungry for them, and mama would put them in a big square pan and that’s all we would eat for dinner. We would eat them with fresh cream and we just couldn’t wait to eat them up!”
Grandma is just darling. Seriously, just look at how cute she is! Mary Tyler Thueson is an incredible storyteller. In fact, she wrote a book and gave it to each of her kids and grand kids So, I thought it would be fun to share her stories every now and again. Plus, I love that these old recipes use ingredients that are simple and have been around forever.
It had been a long, cold winter but today was warm and sunny. The new leaves on the big popular trees had already unfolded and little green plants were pushing their way up through the warm, rich soil. It had only been a few short weeks since the young farmer had come in from doing chores and said, ‘The snow has begun to recede from the Tetons; Spring is on it’s way!’ Even though the Grand Tetons were many miles away, their three stately spires could be seen reaching high into the clear blue sky.
This day, the young mother took her chair out on the lawn to be near her children as they gathered rocks from the little stream behind the log house. She was busy sewing lace on a tiny white frock but took the time to wipe a little nose or look at the pretty colored rocks the children brought to her.
The robins who were noisily gathering twigs and bits of string to build their nest seemed to sense the mother’s secret held close beneath her heart. They wanted to be the first to tell the whole world.
Summer was busy and passed quickly, as they always do on a farm with baby calves to feed, long rows of potatoes to cultivate, hay to mow and stack, and wheat to thresh. There were no tractors or other motorized conveniences on this farm. The machinery was all pulled by horses, who were cared for and treated like family members.
It was the last of October when the farmer announced to his family that winter was on the way because there was fresh snow on the Grand Tetons that very morning. On the 26th of October a baby girl was born to the young farmer and his wife. The baby was named, “Mary” for a grandmother this child would never know.
Thus, my happy life began on our farm west of Ucon, Idaho. I not only joined six brothers and sisters but also shared the lace from my very first dress with a nest of baby robins.”
I love discovering my family history. When I read my grandma’s stories I feel not only closer to her, and better understand who I am, but it makes me want to be a better mother myself. What a different time she lived in. Sometimes I think I was born during the wrong time, there’s just something lovely about farm life, and when Grandma tells me about playing outside in the creek, and spending time on her mama’s lap I can’t help but want to make sure that my children have time to just be with me. No crazy distractions just simple time together.
A Few Tips
Make sure that you cut the shortening/butter into the flour mixture until it resembles a sandy like texture. Then, roll out to about 1/4″ thick, spread with the brown sugar/cinnamon and then one by one grate the apple over all of the dough. Don’t grate the apple into a bowl ahead of time or it will quickly brown. I actually prefer to peel my apple and then grate the whole apple until I get to the core, turning as I go. This way I always have something to hold onto.
Lastly, I prefer to cut my rolls with unflavored floss or thread. It’s how my mom did it and I find it quicker and easier. Just slide the thread under the dough, cross on top and pull tight to cut through. Slide the thread back under the dough, and repeat until done.
What Apples are Best for Baking?
When it comes to cooking with apples, not all apples are created equal.
The best apples for baking keep their structure and don’t turn to mush when baked.
Granny Smith apples are an all time favorite, but there are others that are excellent choices also.
Johnny Gold, Braeburn, Winesap and Pink Ladies are all great choices for baking.
Are Cooked Apples Nutritious?
Cooked apples are a good source of vitamin C.
Both raw and cooked apples are a great source of polyphenols, although the amount decreases when apples are cooked.
Cooked apples are also a good source of fiber.
Heirloom Apple Rolls
Heirloom Apple Rolls
For the Dough
- 2 cups flour
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup butter
- 3/4 cup milk
For the Syrup
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 cups water
For the Filling
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 3 cups apples, grated
For the Dough
- In a large bowl add the flour, baking powder and salt.
- Whisk to combine thoroughly.
- Add the shortening or butter in chunks and cut in with a pastry cutter or fork until you reach a sand like texture (small pieces of shortening).
- Add the milk, and stir to combine into a soft dough.
- On a floured board, roll the dough in an oblong sheet 1/4 inch thick, and brush with melted butter.
- Cover dough with 3 cups grated apples, and sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon, roll like a jelly roll, cut in slices 1 1/2 inch thick and place in a pan of sugar water.
- Bake 400 about 40 min
For the Syrup
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat add the water and sugar.
- Heat through and stir until dissolved.
- Pour into a 9x13" baking dish.
- Serve with warm milk or cream in the dish with the rolls.
Many years ago my mother-in-law made Pie Plant Rolls (rhubard) that were on the same order as your apple rolls. I have lost her recipe but when I found your recipe, it is so much like hers that I follow your recipe and substitute rhubard for the apples and they remind me of her. She would make the Pie Plant Rolls for her co-workers usually with the first picking of rhubard each spring.
You’ve made my day Cindy! I’m so glad this has brought back good memories for you.
Thank you very much for posting this recipe and your grandma’s story. My grandpa grew up in Ucon and I spent some time there with my own family. I found this recipe in an old church cookbook but needed some help with the measurements. How fun that your grandma came from that area too. Thank you for helping me out, my kids are going to love these!
Hey Sarah! I love how food connects us with people especially those who have gone before us! We would love to hear what you think of these!
I used Honeycrisp Apple cider reduced down instead of the sugar water , to set the rolls into before baking . Really punched up the flavor of the apples, and Grannie Smiths and Pink Lady’s . It was Devine !
What a great idea!! Thanks for the feedback Marla!
I just now found your beautiful blog! So many wonderful looking recipes to try, I’m always looking for new recipes but I found one that is really old for me and it brought tears to my eyes, this recipe for Heirloom apple rolls, Your recipe is almost exactly like my Mother’s except for grating the apples. My Mom died in January of this year at the age of 98 and she made apple rolls every fall for most of her life. She didn’t have a recipe because the directions were past down to her from her mother. I was able to get my Mom to measure and write one down the ingredients for me. I enjoyed your post and memories about your grandmother. I remember many times that we just ate apple rolls for dinner, we would eat until we were stuffed, always in a bowl with milk. Thank you for your post
Oh Charlotte, I can’t believe someone else made the rolls too and they are almost the same age! Thank you for sharing that with us. xoxo!
So do you or don’t you bake the rolls in the syrup? Just a little confused. I really want to try these. Thanks for this I can’t wait.
The liquid goes in the bottom of the dish and the rolls absorb it as they bake.
Carrian: What a lovely story!
You have brought your Grandma into my house. Thank you, I lost mine when I was a child.
These rolls have gone to the top of my list to do. They look delicious!
Thank you so much Charlie!
if you can’t find heirloom apples, what would you recommend?
Hi Brenda, you don’t need to use heirloom apples, any favorite is perfect.
I found a recipe like this but it used sprite or 7up for the liquid. I love old recipes. My Grams was a great cook but I did not get any of her recipes. I guess she never wrote them down. Thanks for sharing so much with us. It is great to see so many young ladies who are willing to use a recipe.
Hi Virginia! Thank you so much for commenting. I’m so curious about this sprite recipe. I’ll have to start experimenting!
Hi there. Your syrup recipe says 1 c water and 2 c WATER. Which is supposed to be the sugar? I’m guessing the 2 cups?
The recipe looks delicious!
There must be an internet error occurring because it does say 1 cup sugar 2 cups water. 🙂 Not sure why it wouldn’t show up correctly. So odd.
These were DELICIOUS!!! Have you tried them with pumpkin?
I haven’t, but what a wonderful idea!
I follow you on Instagram and saw your post of apple rolls. I had to check it out because I have a similar recipe from my grandma. Its my dad’s favorite dessert and I now make it for him every Father’s Day. His mom taught me to make it and I have been for over 15 years. It was fun to read about your grandma. My recipe is very similar. I had to write and let you know. Thanks, I enjoy the posts!
No way!! Oh, that makes me so very happy. Keep making them and I love that we have similar recipes!
I’m Australian and we don’t cut our rolls till cooked but the basic recipe the same and it’s called rolypoly made with either apple or just jam with the syrup, we serve with custard,ice cream or cream but has been in family well over a hundred years . Do you think it might have something to do with country of origin, love your story and recipe
That sounds very similar and delicious!!
These look like cinnamon rolls, which are time-consuming to make. I’m eager to try this recipe. I hope my dough has that bread-like appearance as pictured, without yeast…interesting. Thanks for sharing the recipe!
It’s such a totally different recipe, like a biscuit almost, but we love them and they’ve been around for over 100 years so they definitely are tried and true! Can’t wait to hear if you like them!
Hello, Can you please tell me what the sugar water is and if you are supposed to put the rolls in it while baking please? Thank you very much.
Hi Mike, The “syrup” portion of the recipe is the sugar water. You just add it to the pan and then add the rolls. Enjoy!
That was my question too! Glad to have that cleared up….
Thank you so much for the recipe. I will definitely be making these this week.
We hope you love them as much as we do!
Thanks so much for this clarification! I was wondering, too. 🙂
I made these last year and they were a hit! Maybe I’ll make a batch tomorrow.
I’m so glad! And now I want some too. haha
Thank you so much again for being a blogger of the day on our site! We are currently hosting a recipe contest in search of the best apple recipe. This recipe would be a great contender! The contest ends 10/10/2013. If you are interested in competing, visit our site to share your favorite apple recipe for a chance to win a Kindle Fire HD!
Oops just noticed it posted three times
Just put them in the oven 🙂
Just put them in the oven. They smell so good.
I just put them in the oven. They smell so good. My husband thought it was weird to put them in water.
I love the look of these Carrian. I subscribed to your blog after coming across these on bakedwithlove at Roxana’s Home Baking.
Thank you! Headed over to check out your site now!
Your grandma is adorable 🙂 these rolls look amazing!
These are so gorgeous girl!!
Just discovered your gorgeous blog. Will definitely be a regular visitor from now on. Can I just clarify something from the recipe please. You say ‘put the rolls into sugar water.’ I take it you make the syrup first, put it in the baking pan then place the rolls into the syrup before baking? With the syrup instructions afterwards it has just thrown me slightly, but the recipe sounds so delicious I really want to try it and get it right.
Cathy Pollak ~ Noble Pig
These look and sound absolutely incredible…wow..wow!!!!
Looks wonderful but where are the apples in the recipe? I see you say you grate them but him many and do you add them with the syrup. Can you advise and revise the recipe! 🙂
Hi! In the instructions it says to cover the dough with the apples. I’m not sure why the amount disappeared out of the recipe, but I’ll go add it again. It’s 3 cups.
This looks really good! About how many apples do I need? They are not listed in the ingredients.
These rolls look so incredibly delicious and I love the photos of your grandmother! Precious!
ashley – baker by nature
I loved reading this sweet, heart warming story! And these rolls… come to meeeee!
dishing up the dirt
what a lovely story! These rolls are calling my name lady. Please come over and bake them for me. I’ll give you produce as a trade 🙂 (okay, kale may not be as tasty as this! But still!!!)
I would totally make these for you!
Aimee @ ShugarySweets
What a sweet story Carrian! now I am going to call my grandma today. And make apple rolls.
thanks!! I love finding all of these old recipes and stories
Stephanie @ Eat. Drink. Love.
Recipes from Grandma are always the best! These look so comforting and delicious!
Roxana | Roxana’s Home Baking
Your grandma is so sweet! Reading your post made me miss my Mom and Grandma even more and can’t wait to get on the other side of the Atlantic ocean to see them!
I’d love if you link this 200 yrs old recipe to my #bakedwithlove party http://www.roxanashomebaking.com/chocolate-marble-banana-bread-recipe/
Totally pinned! What a sweet, sweet grandma you have.
Jocelyn @BruCrew Life
Your grandma is the cutest!!! I love recipes that are handed down from family!!! Those rolls sound super delicious!!!
Dorothy @ Crazy for Crust
These are great Carrian! And this is a wonderful post!
Carla @ Carlas Confections
Those rolls look gorgeous! And such a fun story!
[email protected] Climbing Grier Mountain
This post made my heart melt. Grandmothers are so precious. I adore this recipe!
Meagan @ A Zesty Bite
Old family recipes are simply the best. Love this recipe and how you use floss to actually cut the rolls. Brilliant!
Looking forward to trying this one!
Julianne @ Beyond Frosting
I need to make these now!! What a great recipe to pass down through the generations.
These rolls are so incredible! I wish I could take them right off my screen!
Sandy @ RE
That was one of my favorite recipes that my mom would make. SO yummy. It’s been years since I’ve had it. LOVE the pics of your sweet Grandma! So lovely!
What a nice story! These look great too!! I am going to bookmark this one 🙂
What a beautiful story and a great way to show appreciation for your grandma! These rolls look amazing!
This is a great post. My Grammie is the same way – the best cook, good story teller, and unconditional love. She mean’s the world to me. Like your story book, my Grams gave me a handwritten cookbook of all her and her family’s recipes. It’s amazing! Happy Mother’s Day!
Wow! What a cool story and the rolls are killer! Seriously, how awesome!