Cinnamon Rolls, Gluten-Free

by Jeanne on February 24, 2010

Cinnamon rolls have been on my mind lately.  I don’t really know why.  I think I’m surrounded by people who have been talking about them lately.  And dAhub loves them.  He can’t get enough of them.  Whenever we go somewhere that has cinnamon rolls, he is first in line for them.  I don’t think he’s met a cinnamon roll that he doesn’t like.  While I was working on this recipe and was making batch after batch of test recipes, I came into the kitchen one day to find a whole batch was gone.  I looked at dAhub.  He looked at me.  In a deadpan voice he said, “I hope you don’t mind, but I ate the whole batch.  You have so many more batches around anyway.”  He said this so seriously, I believed him.  I must have looked completely shocked, because he laughed and showed me the tupperware he had transferred them to.  Not that we needed more cinnamon rolls, because the kitchen was covered with them.  But still…

I have a confession to make: I’ve never been a huge cinnamon roll fan.  I’m not sure why.  I guess it’s because all the ones I ever got where the size of a dinner plate, full of a too-sweet filling, and often had raisins (not my favorite thing in most baked things.).  So, I never gave them much thought until now.

As I started working on this recipe and testing batch after batch, I realized I LOVE cinnamon rolls.  I can’t get enough of them.  Many rolls from each batch I tested went directly into my mouth (taste-testing, of course).  I finally realized what people were raving about.  And I finally understood dAhub’s love of them.  As someone who is late to the cinnamon roll party, all I have to say to them is: wow–where have you been all my life?

As I thought about and researched cinnamon rolls over the past few months, I realized that I could adapt my Dinner Roll recipe to use as the dough of the cinnamon rolls.  Once I figured this out, the rest was a matter of tweaking the amount of liquid that would go into the recipe.  I then had to figure out a filling and a glaze recipe.  I studied many cinnamon roll recipes from the web to get ideas for the filling and frosting recipes.  I liked the idea of a simple cinnamon butter filling and a simple cream cheese frosting.  I played with amounts and finally came to the recipe below.  I am so happy about it!  And I think you will be, too!

Cinnamon Rolls, Gluten-Free
-makes 12 rolls

Note: This recipe uses my gluten-free flour mix:
Jeanne’s Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Mix (mix together and store in fridge):
1 1/4 C/170 g brown rice flour
1 1/4 C/205 g white rice flour
1 C/120 g tapioca flour
1 C/165 g sweet rice flour (also known as Mochiko)
2 scant tsp. xanthan gum

Special Equipment Needed

-9″ x 13″ baking pan
-rolling pin
-a stand mixer is very handy, but a hand mixer will do
-a Silpat mat is very handy, but plastic wrap will do


For the Dough
3 C/420 g Jeanne’s Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Mix
2 tsp xanthan gum
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 C/50 g granulated sugar
2 TBL active dry yeast (I use Red Star)
1 1/4 C/300 ml warm but not hot milk (about 110 degrees F/43 degrees C)
2 tsp vinegar (I use apple cider vinegar)
4 TBL neutral-tasting vegetable oil (I use rice bran oil)
2 extra large eggs
extra tapioca flour for rolling out dough and for pan
extra butter for pan

For the Filling
1/4 C (1/2 stick; 55 g) unsalted butter
3/4 C/160 g dark brown sugar
2 TBL Jeanne’s Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Mix
1 tsp cinnamon
-combine ingredients in a small saucepan and cook over low heat to melt butter. Stir to combine. Take off of heat and set aside.

For the Frosting
1/4 C (1/2 stick; 55 g) unsalted butter, softened
4 oz (1/2 bar; 115 g) cream cheese, softened
3/4 C/85 g powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
-combine ingredients in a small bowl and beat until combined and smooth; set aside

Butter and flour your pan with extra butter and tapioca flour; set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix together flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, salt,and 3 TBL sugar; set aside
-in bowl of mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together eggs, oil and vinegar until just combined
-in a small bowl (or a glass measuring cup), whisk 1 TBL sugar into milk until sugar is dissolved
-add yeast, whisk until dissolved. Set aside to proof (will look foamy on top when it’s ready)
-once yeast mixture is foamy on top, add it to the wet ingredients in the bowl of stand mixer
-add dry ingredients
-with paddle attachment, beat dough on medium high for 3 minutes (dough will be very stiff)

Prepare your work surface: If you have it, place Silpat mat on work surface (or use a large piece of plastic wrap–at least 12″ x 18 inches). My Silpat mat is 12″ x 16.5″. Generously sprinkle with tapioca flour (surface should be completely covered). This will ensure that the dough won’t stick to the surface.

After it has been beaten for 3 minutes, scrape out the dough onto tapioca-sprinkled work surface. The dough will be stiff and sticky. Liberally sprinkle dough and rolling pin with tapioca flour. Adequate coverage will ensure that the dough doesn’t stick to the rolling pin
-roll out dough until it is 12″ x 15″ rectangle (you can also use your fingers to push it out here and there into the correct shape). It will be about 1/4″ thick.

Sprinkle filling mixture over top of dough. Leave a 1/4″ margin on the long sides and on 1 of the short ends, and a 1 inch margin at the other short end. This will help you to roll and seal the rolls. You may have to work a bit to get the dough evenly covered with filling. I use a butter knife to scrape the filling over to parts that don’t have filling.

-with a pastry brush, brush the 1″ margin of dough on the one short side with water. This make it a bit sticky and will help your rolls seal at the end.

Starting at the short end that does not have the 1″ margin, carefully roll the dough into a fairly tight cylinder. This should be fairly easy if you adequately floured your work surface before placing the dough on it. If the dough sticks to the work surface, gently pick up the end of the Silpat mat (or the plastic wrap) and use that to help you push and roll the dough. Carefully and steadily roll into a cylinder, and when you reach the end (the side with the water brushed on) press this part of the dough carefully but firmly to the body of the cylinder. You should now have a roughly 12″ long cylinder (don’t worry if it’s a bit longer or shorter). You can pat the open ends in a bit to make them more even.

Cut your rolls: I usually sprinkle more tapioca flour onto  the work surface and carefully pick up the cylinder and place it into the middle of the work surface so I have room to cut the rolls. Starting at one of the open ends, and using a ruler and a sharp knife, mark dough in 1″ increments. You should now have 12 marks.

With your knife, carefully cut the dough along the marks. I wipe off the knife after each cut. Place each roll cut side up into your prepared pan. You will have 12 rolls. The rolls should be slightly touching, but will have a bit of room around them.  This is purposeful.  I’ve found that the rolls bake best if they’re not tightly squished together.  If you don’t have a 9″x13″ pan, then try two 8″x8″ baking pans to get the effect below:

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Let the rolls rise until almost double in bulk (this usually means about 30 minutes for me in Seattle this winter). I place the pan on top of the preheating stove to take advantage of the heat to help the rolls rise.

Once sufficiently risen, the rolls will now be touching each other on all sides, but still have some space around them.

Brush the top of each roll with melted butter.

Bake at 375 degree for 35-40 minutes (the tops will be tinged with brown here and there but not totally brown).

Remove. Let cool in pan on a wire rack.  You may brush the frosting on at any point now, but the warmer the rolls are, the more the frosting will melt down into the rolls (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing!).  I usually frost some of the rolls and leave the others plain.  Both ways are terrific!


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