There is something magical about a warm cinnamon roll fresh out of the oven. The fantastic combination of gooey sugar-spice filling and delicate vanilla icing seems to erase stress and induce a sense of ultimate euphoria. Suddenly hectic lives become obsolete as family members gather together and become lost in delicious vanilla-cinnamon perfection. Now, if only that experience could be gluten-free.
The name “cinnamon roll” conjures images of beautifully risen, golden brown spiraled rounds, the classic look of a Cinnabon® roll. But making this image translate to gluten-free is challenging to say the least. Those experienced with gluten-free baking know that products that ought to be fluffy and smooth often turn out disappointingly dense and gnarled when they are made gluten-free; not exactly the desired quality of a cinnamon roll. But with a little bit of determination and a great deal of experimentation anything is possible, even a gluten-free Cinnabon®-like cinnamon roll.
That being said, this recipe is a wonderful first step towards the perfect cinnamon roll. These treats are delicious in flavor: the filling is sweet, fragrant, and characteristically gooey; the vanilla icing is decadently rich and flavorful. The texture, however, is fairly chewy and spongy. When covered in cinnamon filling, the moist, chewy dough is more reminiscent of soaked french toast opposed to bread-like cinnamon rolls. The batter is also fairly sticky, making it difficult to roll into the tight spiral desired. But such qualities can easily be altered by experimenting with the selection and amount of specific flours. And so my work is clearly cut out for me!
This cinnamon roll, although not yet perfect, is definitely delicious. These homemade treats will fill your house with the intoxicating scent of butter and cinnamon and delight your taste buds in spicy sweetness. In a pinch these will certainly satisfy your craving for homemade cinnamon rolls, but the perfect gluten-free cinnamon roll is still out there! And so the search continues!
Gluten-Free Cinnamon Rolls
Adapted from The Baking Beauties
Yield: 8 rolls
2 ½ cups GF Flour Mix*
½ cup tapioca starch
1 tablespoon active-dry yeast
¼ cup sugar (plus extra 2 tablespoons for sprinkling)
½ teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons xanthan gum
¼ cup dry milk powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ cup butter
½ cup water
¾ cup milk
1 egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
2 tablespoons oil
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
2 Tbsp. butter, very soft
½ cup brown sugar, packed
2 Tbsp. cinnamon
3 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons heavy cream or milk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup powdered sugar
- In the bowl of your stand mixer, mix all dry dough ingredients until combined. Set aside.
- Put water and butter in a glass measuring cup and microwave just until the butter has melted. Remove from microwave and stir. Add milk, stir. Add other wet ingredients and whisk to combine.
- With the stand mixer running, pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Mix on medium speed for 3 minutes.
- Take a piece of plastic wrap and lay it out on a slightly damp counter top so it covers an area bigger than 8″ x 16″. Sprinkle 2 Tbsp of sugar on the wrap and lay ball of dough on top. Gently lay another piece of plastic wrap over the top of the dough. Pat the dough down into a roughly squarish shape. Roll the dough out (with the plastic wrap on top) to approximately 8″ x 16″.
- Remove top plastic wrap. Spread butter evenly across dough’s surface and sprinkle cinnamon/sugar mixture on top. (Leave 1½” along one long end without any filling, this is where your cinnamon rolls will be sealed).
- Starting along the long end, use the bottom sheet of plastic wrap to lift the edge of the dough with the filling and roll it up, forming a long cylinder.
- Using a long piece of thread, cut the long “cinnamon bun log” into 8 pieces, about 1½” wide (do this by placing the thread underneath the roll, crossing it at the top, and pulling the threads so they cross each other, pulling it through the dough). Place rolls in greased 9×13” pan, with cut side up.
- Cover and allow the cinnamon rolls/buns to rise in a warm, draft-free place for about 30 minutes, or until nearly doubled in size (to make a warm environment, heat oven to 175° F and turn off 5 min. before putting rolls in to rise).
- Bake rolls in preheated 350° F oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown.
- To prepare icing, combine 3 tablespoons softened butter with cream/milk, stirring with a whisk. Stir in vanilla. Gradually add powdered sugar and stir until blended. Spread frosting over rolls and serve warm.
2 cups brown rice flour
2/3 cup potato starch
1/3 cup tapioca starch