Old-fashioned Baked Apple Roll

Baked apple roll in baking dish

Fall is the season for apples, and the perfect time to make apple desserts. I recently found a lovely hundred-year-old recipe for Baked Apple Roll; however, it has one quirky characteristic. The recipe does not call for any cinnamon.

The Baked Apple Roll is smothered in a very simple sugar, water, and butter sauce. The roll looked beautiful, but (since I’m so used to apple dishes being spiced with cinnamon), the roll tasted bland to me. If I made this recipe again, I might add some cinnamon – though I recognize that wouldn’t hold true to the old recipe.

Here’s the original recipe:

Recipe for baked apple roll
Source: The Old Reliable Farm and Home Cook Book (1919)

When I made the recipe, I halved it, and still had a large roll that made 4-5 servings. Here is the recipe updated for modern cooks.

Baked Apple Roll

  • Servings: 4 - 5
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

slice of baked apple roll in dish

2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 tablespoon butter (softened) + 1/4 cup butter

1 cup milk

3 cups chopped apples (about 2-3 large apples) (peel and core before chopping)

1 cup sugar

1 1/2 cups water

Preheat oven to 325° F. In a bowl, combine flour, salt, baking powder, and 1 tablespoon butter. Add milk, and mix using a fork until dough starts to cling together. If it is excessively sticky, add additional flour. Turn onto a well-floured prepared surface, and roll dough into an approximate 11-inch square that is 1/4 inch thick. Evenly spread chopped apples on the rolled dough to within 1/2 inch of the edges. Start at one side and roll. Seal edges by pressing together to help prevent the juice from running out. Place in an oblong baking dish (approximately 7 inches by 12 inches or larger) with the “seam” at the top.

In a bowl, combine the sugar and water. Carefully pour the sugar mixture into the edge of the baking dish. Do not pour it over the top of the roll. Cut the 1/4 cup butter into small pieces, then “dot” the sugar/water mixture with the butter pieces. This will turn into a syrup as it cooks. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove from oven and baste the roll with the hot sugar syrup. Return to oven and bake an additional 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven. The roll can be cut into slices, and served hot or cold with the syrup drizzled around the slices.

    Unbaked apple roll in baking dish with sugar, water, and pats of butter

37 thoughts on “Old-fashioned Baked Apple Roll

    1. I understand why she thought it bland my old fashioned recipe included 2 grated apples, 3 tbs sultanas a little candied peel 2 tbs sugar and a little grated nutmeg. Everything else is the same except it only had 1 cup boiling water in the syrup and only needed baking for 1 hour. It was a winner for my family,

    1. It was a very easy way to make a syrup. I really enjoy how simple and practical the techniques are in some old recipes. Even if I don’t make this actual recipe again, I may try tweaking some other recipe to make a syrup using similar methods.

  1. I love everything apple plus freshly baked, Sheryl. The perfect season right now. I am also a lover of cinnamon. No cinnamon in this recipe? I appreciate this is not a yeast recipe and it looks doable. I can of course add cinnamon. I am saving your post. Thank you!

  2. I had to laugh at your comment about “No Cinnamon!? W.T.F!!!”

    As the granddaughter of Scandinavian immigrants that came to America in the 1880’s, I can assure you that NO CINNAMON WAS EVER IN OUR KITCHEN PANTRY!

    How were our dishes flavoured? With fresh or dried herbs in the Winter months. As far as pastry was concerned, PIES were baked in Summer when produce was free (wild crafting) or grown and CAKES/SWEET ROLLS/COOKIES were Fall/Winter treats, along with canned peaches and applesauce.

    The joke among Scandinavians is that the Morton Salt container that they got when they were blushing brides, was still “half full” upon the farm woman’s death! LOL This is SO true as I have no memory of my Grandma salting ANYTHING! Salt and Pepper shakers were always on the table for Grandpa and the farm hands but “spices” were NEVER added to Scandinavian food! It was herbs or nuttin’!

    When Grandma did bake an item that required spices, CARDAMOM is infamous in Scandinavian culture, so her rolls and apple pies were flavoured with that. But Cinnamon? Nutmeg? Allspice? Those were foreign concept to someone baking 100 years ago. 🙂 Hope this helps understand the lack of spices in the apple roll.

    1. This is fascinating. I once said to a friend that some foods a hundred years ago were bland compared to today. She replied, “They weren’t bland; the flavors were delicate.”

    1. I think that a sugar syrup was formed when the sugar and butter melted and combined with the water, and then came to a boil. The baking time was fairly long, which allowed the syrup to thicken to a certain extent.

    1. That’s a really good point. I’ve definitely eaten apple desserts from time to time where the cinnamon flavor was almost overwhelming.

  3. That sounds rather tasty, although I would figure out a way to make it without the butter (for no reason other than I hate butter!) Maybe if I put it on parchment paper?

    1. hmm. . . I don’t think that parchment paper would work very well because of the sugar syrup (without butter). The paper would get very soggy. Of course, I suppose the roll could be made without the syrup – but it wouldn’t be very sweet since no sugar is mixed with the chopped apples before putting them in the roll. I guess that the bottom line is – if you don’t like butter, this may not be the recipe for you.

  4. Hi. Have Cosmic Crisp apples arrived in your area? It’s a new variety that has gotten a lot of promotion and press. I had one recently. It was good but not a game changer. My favorite apple always has been the McIntosh. Take care.

    1. No, I haven’t seen Cosmic Crisp apples. I’ll have to specifically look for them the next time I go to the store – though they don’t sound special enough for me to search very hard for them. I also like many of the old-time apples: McIntosh, Cortland, Northern Spy, etc.

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