Thursday, March 17, 2011

Gluten- and Dairy-Free Cinnamon Rolls ...Spring Has Sprung!

I think Spring is trying to poke its head through this winter's stranglehold.  It's been a rough one.  Earlier, I heard a flock of geese honking (is it flock? I don't know.)   It  was such a great sound.  Today is beautiful and makes me feel that feeling.  Do you know the one?  That feeling of anticipation you get when you feel that familiar heat on your skin and you smell that crisp, fresh air.  You feel that happiness and a cool anticipation for the warmer weather that promises to come.  I feel good.  Moods out there are more cordial, including mine.  People around me in public have a brightness in their faces and a calmness about their presence.  They must  feel it too.   Ahhh, Spring.  In  Colorado it can be sketchy at its best and blustery at its worst.  But, right now, today, it's warm and cozy.  Full of possibilities. 

We need cinnamon rolls.  Plus, this weather is making me feel nostalgic.  In my last post I wrote about Jennie Mae, Andy's beloved grandma, and her amazing pound cake that inspired my Gluten- and Dairy-Free Prune Pound Cake.  Today, I am thinking about my own maternal grandma, Helen.  God, I loved her.  She and I were very close.  I am the only girl out of four boys, so that might have had something to do with it.  Whatever.  We were close and when she died it felt as if a part of me died too.  I was just 12-years-old, but I've always been an "old soul" and some may say a bit dramatic.  Maybe so, but it's not as if I threw my arm over my forehead and wailed "Oh woe-is-me!"  But, I was devastated.  She made me feel so special for just existing.  Her absence felt enormous and took a wild emotional toll on my mother, her daughter,  and even myself  for many years after her death.  Even now, when I am feeling vulnerable, emotionally  exposed, or even happy, I miss her.  I long to just hold her hand.

Grandma taught me many things.  How to hang the laundry on the line.   How to play cards.  I was actually learning from one of the best.  She played in tournaments all over the state. I also love remembering her and her ladies playing Bridge, drinking coffee and chain-smoking cigarettes around her kitchen table.  A lovely image, right?  But, it was.  To me.  She had so many friends and she worked so hard.  I would watch her baking loaves of bread and pans of cinnamon rolls each and every week.  She never missed a week as far as anyone knows.  That's dedication.  I bake bread every week as well, but sometimes if I'm not feeling up to the task, I skip it and go buy those disgusting loaves from the store.  Oh the shame...But, my little grandma didn't miss.  It wasn't an option in her mind, I guess.

So with the newness and possibilities of Spring sprouting around us,  I'm feeling  Grandma's spirit alive and well.  I'm wanting to hold her hand and go for a walk.  I want to bake with her.  She would have been so confused by this gluten and dairy free business, but she would have set herself to clattering around in the kitchen right alongside me,  learning.  And laughing.  I just know it.

Here, with this recipe,  I've been inspired by her cinnamon roll recipe and tweaked it to make it deliciously and safely gluten- and dairy-free.  This recipe makes eight,  nice-sized sweet rolls.  Please don't be put off by the number of ingredients for the dough.  I found, after several different combinations and trying to use just one gluten-free flour and one starch, that it just didn't have that elasticity that you want for a cinnamon roll.  You want it to hold its spiral shape of goodness.  It's the combination of these flours and starches that creates the magic!  Trust...

Gluten- and Dairy-Free Cinnamon Rolls

160 g (1 cup) white rice flour
103 g (3/4 cup) sweet white sorghum flour
35 g (1/4 cup) potato starch
33 g (1/4 cup) cornstarch
4 g (2 tsp) albumen
18 g (2 Tbs) xanthan gum
1 tsp Egg Replacer
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
7 g (2 tsp) rapid rise yeast
54 g (1/4 cup) white sugar
1 Tbs honey
175 ml (3/4 cup) grapeseed oil
250 ml (1 cup) rice milk, warm
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
56 g (4 Tbs) Earth Balance, melted
2 eggs, room temperature
2 tsp gluten free vanilla
70 g (5 Tbs) Earth Balance, very soft
cinnamon, to sprinkle
235 g (1 cup) brown sugar

Grease a 9 x 9 inch baking pan.

Whisk together in a medium-sized bowl the dry (except the white sugar); white rice flour, sorghum flour, potato starch, cornstarch, albumen, xanthan gum, Egg Replacer, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and yeast.

In the bowl of your standing mixer, mix together the white sugar,  honey, grapeseed oil, warmed milk (just warm it in the microwave for one minute),  apple cider vinegar, melted Earth Balance, 2 eggs, and the vanilla.  Add the flour mixture a cup at a time until the dough begins to pull away from the edges of mixing bowl.

Place the dough into greased casserole dish and proof for 45 minutes.  I use the oven.  I place a cast-iron skillet into the oven on the bottom rack and warm the oven for about 3 minutes.  Turn OFF oven.  Put The dough into oven on the middle rack and pour boiling water into the skillet and close it up.  Don't open until the 45 minutes is up!  The dough should have risen quite a bit.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Leave the skillet where it is...

Now, get ready to roll out the dough!  Rip off 2 pieces of parchment paper about  16 inches long.  Flour one of the pieces and place dough on top, then add a bit of flour on top of the dough.  Place the other piece of parchment on top of the dough and push it down with your hand to start forming the 16-inch rectangle.  Use the parchment dimensions as your guide.  Using a rolling pin, form the dough to cover the entire surface of  the parchment paper.  Don't be afraid to use your hand and/or fingers to pinch and push the dough to where you need it to be.

Once the dough is formed, remove the top piece of parchment and spread the softened Earth Balance all over the top of it.  I used my fingers to carefully spread it all over.  Then sprinkle it with the cinnamon and  the brown sugar to cover the butter completely.  Next, using the parchment underneath the dough, pull up the long  edge closest to your body and start rolling it away from you, tightening the dough roll  as you go.  This is my favorite part!  I feel so accomplished and together as I form a tube with the dough.  Once you've done that, now slice the dough right down the middle.  Then slice those two pieces down the middle, keep going like that until you have 8 equal parts.  Place those 8 pieces flat side down  in the greased baking pan, leaving about 1/4 inch in between each piece.  Place pan in the preheated oven on the middle rack.  Add a few pieces of ice to the skillet that's been heating in the oven.  This will create steam which adds that extra oomph to the finished product!

Bake for 30 minutes until the tops are golden brown.  After about 25 minutes (or sooner, depending on your oven) place aluminum foil loosely on top of the baking dish to prevent the tops from burning.  When done, place baking dish on a cooling rack for 5 minutes, then turn over entire dish on top of a serving plate.  The oooey, gooey brown sugar and butter (on top now) will taunt you to dig in, but try to wait.  These gluten-  and dairy- free cinnamon rolls will be even better if you can wait about an hour to munch, munch!  Of course, you don't have to family finds that impossible!

So, here's to you Grandma!  With Spring winking at us and a Cinnamon Roll for breakfast, you are here and we love you!  For everyone else, let me know what you think of these...and send pics!

*Danna's note:
Recently, another blogger, the venerable Shauna Ahearn,, has brought to the forefront the importance of weighing your ingredients instead of measuring by volume (using measuring cups).  Since I started baking bread seriously in the last year I have only used my scale.  Since I know the value of using a scale,  I will give both volume and weights for my recipes.  It is truly easier and more precise to use a scale.  Plus, if you ever need to substitute, doing so by weight most likely won't change the final product.  There's a reason professional bakers and pastry chefs only use weight measurements!)

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I look forward to any and all comments from readers. Feel free to correct me, enlighten me, and encourage me!