Gluten-free cinnamon rolls. Yes, this was going to be my next project. After all, the last time I had eaten cinnamon rolls was quite some years ago. And they were sooo good, back then! But after going gluten-free, well, nobody sold a gluten-free version of cinnamon rolls, so I simply could not have them anymore.
But after working quite a bit with gluten-free yeast dough when developing a recipe for gluten-free jelly doughnuts (Krapfen) I found that I really liked to work with yeast. And yummy cinnamon rolls were definitely worth a try.
What I like is to create my own specific gluten-free flour mix for each of my recipes. This helps me get the best results. It would, of course, be much easier to just buy a ready-made gluten-free flour mix in a supermarket or health food store or so. But most of the time they are made of a mixture of rice flour and starches only. And oftentimes I would find the taste of rice flour a bit dull, if it is the main flour in the mix.
Also, you never really know all the ingredients used in a ready-made flour mix as not every ingredient needs to be declared on the packaging. Finally, we have been changing countries quite a lot over the past 10 years. And this means, that even if I find a gluten-free flour mix I like in one country, the odds are that this special brand will not be available in our next country.
But lets get back to making gluten-free cinnamon rolls, shall we?
First, mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl (best use the mixing bowl of your electric mixer). You will need all different kinds of gluten-free flours, starches and binding agents. If you now start asking yourself if it is really worth the trouble to buy them all, I would definitely say a big yes. Why? Well, these ingredients are used in more or less all gluten-free baking recipes. So once you have them in your pantry, you can start baking basically anything you like.
I generally prefer to use pearl millet flour over rice flour. Not only, because it is a very healthy flour with plenty of iron, calcium and magnesium (and comparably few calories at the same time), but also, because I find it to have the most “wheat-like” taste of all gluten-free flours.
You need to add other flours and starches, though, in order to get a good baking result (otherwise the baked goods would turn out way too dry). As pearl millet flour does not combine very good with other flours, it is best to supplement it with a combination of both, brown and white rice flour.
Also, gluten-free starches are needed. Tapioca starch has very good baking properties as it helps baked goods become light and fluffy. And potato starch provides the dough with a nice and smooth texture. With its “heavy” density it helps offset the dryness of pearl millet flour.
Last but not least, binding agents like psyllium seed husk powder and locust bean gum powder (or xanthan gum) are needed as substitutes for the missing gluten in gluten-free flours. They have strong water absorbing capacities and in this regard help the dough retain its airy structure when baked (otherwise the baked goods would become very dense).
Next, prepare the mixture of wet ingredients. Heat up milk and add the butter to let it melt in the warm milk. Then, lightly beat two eggs and also add it to the milk-butter-mixture, along with a little bit of canola oil.
Do not yet add the apple cider vinegar to the dough as this might cause the milk to curdle. Better wait and add it directly to the dough, together with the yeast mixture. I guess you are now asking yourself why you need vinegar in cinnamon rolls. Well, vinegar generally is improving the function of baking powder in a dough (yes, we are also using a little bit of baking powder in our gluten-free yeast dough).
Now prepare for the proof of yeast. Simply mix granulated active dry yeast, granulated white sugar and some warm water and let it stand for a couple of minutes until small bubbles develop on the surface of the yeast mixture.
Now it is time to combine all ingredients and mix them with your electric mixer for half a minute or so. When you start mixing, you may have the feeling that the dough is way too liquid. But after mixing a short while, you will notice that the dough gets more sticky and gains “structure”. This is due to the capability of our two gluten-free baking agents, namely psyllium seed husk powder and locust bean gum powder (or xanthan), to absorb large quantities of liquids.
When you have the feeling the dough is sticky enough, place it at a warm enough place for about 30 minutes. I usually simply take the mixing bowl and place it in another very big bowl filled with warm water. Then I cover the mixing bowl with a plastic foil and a towel and let the dough rise.
After the first rise, scrape the dough out of the bowl and place it on a surface covered with flour. Knead it by hand for 2 minutes or so. Then, take a rolling pin and roll it out to a rectangle with about 0.80 cm (≈ 1/3-in.) thickness. Don’t forget to flour the dough on the surface, too, as otherwise the rolling pin will stick to it.
Now it is time to place the filling on the rolled-out dough. Begin with brushing the dough with melted butter. Then sprinkle granulated sugar and cinnamon powder on the dough. Top with coarsely chopped hazelnuts (or pecan nuts) and dried raisins.
When the topping is finished, roll the dough rectangle into a pretty firm roll (otherwise the filling will get loose and start falling out from the dough “snails”). Slice the dough with a sharp knife into pieces of about 2 cm (≈ 3/4-in.) thick each.
Place the rolls on a floured baking sheet, cover them with plastic foil and a towel on top and put them at a warm enough place. The moisture “trapped” underneath the foil will help the yeast dough rise much better.
Then preheat the oven to 180 °C (≈ 360 °F). After about 30 to 40 minutes the rolls should have approx. doubled in size and can then be put in the lower part of the oven.
Let bake for about 15 to 20 minutes and take out when brownish. Don’t let them get too dark as small-sized baked goods like our yeast rolls have a tendency to get quite dry when baked too long.
Start preparing for the sugar glaze (simple syrup) shortly before taking the cinnamon rolls out from the oven as the glaze needs to be applied on the still hot rolls.
For the “simple syrup”, simply combine water and sugar in a small saucepan and heat for about five minutes. The longer it boils, the thicker the syrup will be when cooled.
Now take a brush and coat the surface of the rolls with the sugar glaze. Let cool. And that’s it!
Enjoy your very tasty gluten-free cinnamon rolls!
g = gram
ml = milliliter
TBS = tablespoon = 15 ml
tsp. = teaspoon = 5 ml
1 cup = 1 cup [US] = 235 ml = 16 tablespoons (TBS)
1 stick of butter = 1/2 cup = 113 g (= 4 oz. = 8 TBS. = 24 tsp.)
1 pound (lb.) = 0.454 kilograms (kg) = 454 grams (g)
1 ounce (oz.) = approx. 28 grams (g)
1 inch (in or “) = 2.54 centimeters (cm) = 25.4 millimeters (mm)
1 liter = 1,000 ml = 1.0567 US quarts (liquid)
1 quart = 1 US quart (liquid) = approx. 0.946 liters