Cinnamon rolls, gluten-free

Ever since I made these pumpkin cinnamon rolls last year, I’ve been thinking about just doing plain cinnamon rolls. I grew up eating cinnamon rolls on special occasions, like Christmas and New Years. Nothing fancy, just the ones that came in the cardboard tube you crack open, plop in a pan and bake. Here’s my answer to that memory.

Gluten-free Cinnamon Rolls

makes about 15 1-1/2”-tall rolls, less if you slice them in wider sections

A few hours ahead or the night before, set out on the counter 2 sticks of unsalted butter and 2 eggs and allow to come to room temp.

1. Sprinkle the contents of one yeast packet, which is 2-1/4 tsp Active Dry Yeast over 1/4-cup warm water (no warmer than 105 degrees F)  and set aside.

2. In a large mixing bowl combine:

  • 1 cup white rice flour
  • 1 cup sweet rice flour
  • 1/4 cup arrowroot starch or tapioca starch/flour
  • 2 Tbs flaxmeal
  • 1 Tbs oat flour (grind your GF rolled oats in the food processor)
  • 2 tsp xanthan gum

(OR sub all above for 2-1/2 cups gluten-free flour mix, like Pamela’s Bread & Flour mix)

3. Combine the following with whatever mixing technology you have, hands or mixer. If using a mixer, use the paddle attachment. Mix until creamy:

  • 3/4 stick of softened butter, which is 6 Tbs
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt

Add to the mixer (or mix in by hand till incorporated), will be slightly lumpy, don’t worry:

  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten, at room temp
  • 1/4 cup milk of your choice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract, gluten-free of course

4. Add the flour mixture to the mixer bowl in 1/2-cup portions, pausing midway through the flour mixture to add the yeast/water mixture. It should come together to form a firm ball of bread dough. Mix for 5 minutes.

5. Spread two long pieces of parchment paper out on the countertop. Dump your dough onto one of those pieces. Place the other piece on top of the dough and roll it out into your best version of rectangle (or long oval-ish shape) until the dough is 1/3” thick. When rolling, try your best to periodically stretch out the bottom piece of parchment to make sure there aren’t any creases or folds.

6. Mix into a spreadable paste either in your mixer or by hand:

  • 4 Tbs room-temp butter
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon

Spread using an icing tool or whatever most resembles that fine piece of equipment; be patient and do your best to spread it evenly over your rolled out dough.

7. Now, for the fun part. Roll it up by picking up the edge of your parchment paper and gently coaxing the dough to roll lengthwise. If it sticks just guide it by the parchment and peel the paper off.

Don’t worry too much about perfection here because you’ll have a chance to make each roll tighter and more perfectly round once you cut it. If there are any impossibly sticky spots where dough stuck to the parchment, just pinch some arrowroot or tapioca flour and gently un-stick the situation with your starch floured fingers.

8. Grease two 8- or 9-inch round or square cake pans with the leftover creamed butter bits in your bowl. Cut the roll into whatever sized individual rolls you’d like. I cut mine to about 1- to 2-inch sections. Gently re-roll each to tighten up the roll and form a circle. (Do this on your parchment paper, not in the air.) Set rolls on the greased pans with at least 1/2-inch space around each roll.

9. Let rise with just the pilot in your gas oven, or turn your electric oven to 200, turn off, wait 5 min and place rolls in the off oven, for 1 hour. Do some dishes!

10. Remove rolls from their rising session, preheat to 350 degrees F, bake for 7 min in the center of the oven, rotate pan and bake for another 7 min or until the dough is fully cooked. Pull rolls out 5 minutes early from the last round of baking if you want to par bake and freeze them for a future morning.

My preferred cream cheese icing recipe is below. It makes enough to keep in an 8-oz jar (that is, after you’ve slathered and sampled a few just-out-of-the-oven cinnamon rolls, of course).

Cream Cheese Icing

Beat together:

1/2 package cream cheese, at room temp

1/2 stick butter, room temp

Add, and mix until fully incorporated and smooth:

1/2 cup powdered sugar

splash vanilla extract

Keep un-iced rolls in an airtight container at room temp for up to 3 days and icing in the refrigerator for up to a week.