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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Gluten Free Sweet Rolls

This was my family's favorite desert when I was growing up, we were always bugging my mom to make them. Since I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease about seven years ago, we've tried to re-make sweet rolls a couple times, but nothing ever came close. This time, we nailed the taste. If the rolls would rise a little more and be a little softer, they would be perfect. If you have any advice on that, please let me know in the comments!

  • Sweet Dough
  • Glaze
    • 1 cup light brown sugar
    • 1/2 cup butter
    • 5 tbsp white karo corn syrup


I'll tell you the original recipe, with notes about how it was different with GF flour... To make the dough, start by mixing the yeast with half a cup of warm water. While that sits, mix together the warm milk, sugar, and salt. When the yeast has bubbled, add it to the warm milk mixture and stir. To that, add 2 lightly beaten eggs and half a cup of shortening. Mix about half the flour. Once that is mixed in, add the rest of the flour - you can use a little more or less, just add it until the dough feels like dough. Knead the dough (although I don't think that is necessary for GF flours?). Place the dough in a large greased bowl, cover it with a damp towel, and let it sit in a warm place to rise until it doubles in size, about 2 hours (it did not double with GF flour, but did rise significantly). Punch the dough down, flip it over in the bowl, re-cover it, and let it rise a second time. Once risen, punch it down a final time and let it sit for 15 minutes. Mix together the cinnamon and sugar (the ratio listed is an estimate, just use as much cinnamon as you like) and melt some butter. Then, separate out a baseball-softball sized chunk of dough and roll it out into a rectangle about 3-4 inches wide. Drizzle on some butter to lightly coat the dough, then sprinkle on a thin layer of the cinnamon and sugar mix. Roll up the dough and cut it into pieces about an inch and a half long. Place the pieces cut side up/down in the prepared pan (see below), with room between the rolls for them to rise (the GF rolls didn't rise much, so we placed them closer together than you would for wheat flour rolls).

While the dough is rising, you can prepare the baking pans and make the glaze. For the glaze, just mix together the brown sugar, butter, and karo syrup. Grease 3 or 4 8" baking pans and line the bottom of the pans with the glaze mix. If you want, you can add chopped up walnuts or pecans on the glaze (we used pecans).

Bake the rolls at 370 for 15-20 minutes (they took about 27 with the GF flour - anyone know why that would be?). After baking, set a plate on top of the pan of rolls, then flip it over. Let it sit for a minute to let the glaze drizzle down, the remove the pan. There you are - a beautiful pan of glazed sweet rolls! They get stale quickly, so make sure to cover them soon after they cool.

Resulting Deliciousness:

These rolls were the closest to the real thing that we've ever gotten using GF flour - Jules' mix definitely works well, I highly recommend it. The taste was exactly what I remember. The only shortcoming was the texture - these did not rise as well as the flour ones, so they were a little more dense and harder. However, they were very worth the effort. If anyone can give me some tips on how to tweak the recipe to get them to rise better, please let me know in a comment!


James said...

Steve is a gluten-free cooking genius.

Anonymous said...

I have been gluten free for 27 years. On reading your comments and looking at the recipe, my guess is that you are using too much gf flour. Proportions to gluten four will be different. Also, gf flours generally use more liquid. They also may need more yeast - compare your ratios to those in most gf cookbooks, for instance Bette Hagman's Bread book. It think this is why they did not rise as much and were hard.

Unknown said...

Hi Steve,
I'm so glad you enjoyed my flour! It's so fun to be able to make favorite family recipes again, gluten-free! Your Sweet Rolls looked just like the ones my grandmother used to make, so I know I'm going to have to try this recipe!
I have a few ideas for you on the rising/hardness issue.
First, since we're dealing with gluten-free dough, there is no punch down and second or third rise step. This is actually a great benefit, since it therefore takes far less time to make gluten-free yeast breads. That's why, for example, the newer bread machines have a special gluten-free setting that has no punch down or later rise cycles. By punching the dough down and letting it sit again for various rise cycles, you probably not only inadvertently dried out the dough somewhat, but also actually reduced the rise of your dough. You should also be able to reduce the rise time you allow for the rolls before baking, and expect more rise once they get into the oven.
Secondly, I would echo the comment about the flour proportions. While the dough sits to rise, it will be sucking up some liquid, so I would cut back on the dry ingredients somewhat and see how that goes.
With these tips, you may even find that the bake time is reduced because the dough is less dense and dry.
Thanks so much for taking the time to share your delicious recipe experiments with others!
~jules shepard,

Iris said...

You didn't state what brand of yeast you were using. I would suggest using Saf-instant Yeast in the red bag. The yeast is already cracked and gives a great rise. Also, make sure the yeast is not out of date. As Jules said, GF flour can not take a second rise. I would form into the rolls and let rise from this state and then bake off. I think you will have great results. Iris/

Anonymous said...

Oh, absolutely, do not punch it down. It only needs one rise. I didn't read through your instructions when I posted my previous comment. I only looked at the ingredients. Apologies for that.

iHateWheat said...

Thanks everyone for the advice!

Next time I'll try forming the rolls right away, letting them rise, then baking. That way I'll only let it rise once and won't punch it down. I'll also try using a little less salt, a little less flour, and the Saf-instant Yeast.

@Barb - I'll look more into the ratios in cookbooks. This is really my first try baking GF, I should have done more research beforehand. Any idea why GF flours use more liquid?

@Jules - I had just recently heard that new bread machines had a GF setting and wondered what was different, it all makes sense now.

@Iris - We used Fleischmann's active dry yeast (because it says gluten free on the label). I'll try Saf-instant.

I'll be sure to post the next try!


Anonymous said...

I'm still getting the hand of gf baking, but tried gf cinnamon rolls last weekend that turned out pretty good, just way too sweet. Plan to try again with less sweeteners in the filling and glaze. I've discovered that most gf baked goods have very gooey/sticky dough prior to baking. The recipe I tried used 1 1/3 c. milk to 3 cup flour mix (also 1/2 c sugar, 1 tablespoon yeast, 2 eggs, 1/4 c. butter, 1/4c. oil, 1/2 t. baking soda, 4t. baking powder, 5 t. xanthan gum, 1 t. salt, 2 t. vanilla.)

Proof yeast with warm milk and set aside a few minutes while mixing b butter with sugar. Add in milk/yeast mix. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Dough will be gooey. Wipe counter with wet cloth and apply sheet plastic wrap. Sprinkle wrap with 2 tbsp sugar. Scoop dough onto center of wrap. Cover with another piece of wrap. Use rolling pin to roll into approx 12 inch by 24 inch rectangle. Remove top wrap. Apply filling across top of dough. Lift long edge of bottom plastic wrap to start rolling dough into a long cylinder. Put glaze ingredients in bottom of 9 X 13 glass pan. Cut into 1 1/2 inch slices and arrange in pan. No rise time needed. Bake at 375 for about 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Flip upside down. Good Luck!

Barb said...

Steve, I'm sure there is a scientific reason the gf flours need more liquid but I am just going by my experiences. I generally need to add a small amount extra of liquid for the pre-baked product to feel/look right but then I usually use a good portion of brown rice flour. I looked at the link for Julie's flour and see it is a much lighter mix than what I normally use. Since your rolls were dry, it seemed that 1.5 c liquid (plus the shortening) did not seem enough for 7.5 c flour. Also, humidity at the time will affect how much liquid is needed (ie humid or dy). I checked a Bread book I have and all the recipes used eggs but the interesting thing was they were consistenty 3c flour:2 c.liquid.
Don't make too many changes to your recipe at once or you won't know which ones are the right changes.
Good Luck! It's fun to be on a quest to recreate a childhood memory. You've nailed the taste so now you only some refinements.

steve said...

Thanks, that recipe looks like it would result in something very similar to mine. Also, my mom taught me that same trick with the plastic wrap - it really makes rolling out the sticky GF dough possible.

Thanks for the insight on the liquid ratios - I've looked through some books and I think you're right, my main issues were the amount of flour and trying to make the dough rise more than once. As far as why GF flour takes more liquid, I think it might have to do with either xantham gum and other sticky additives, or the flour particle size. I'm a mechanical engineer, and a nerd, so I read up on flour properties a little - it looks like the substitute flours we use are often ground to different particulate sizes and shapes than wheat flour, which could very easily impact moisture retention and other properties.

iHateWheat said...

I just realized I posted that last comment while I was signed in on my other google account, sorry for any confusion.

Iris said...

We have found that GF flours obsorb more liquid than wheat flour. Why? Who knows, not me.