Grain-Free Cinnamon Rolls

December 21, 2013
Author Notes

Every Christmas morning, my mom made fresh cinnamon rolls. Soft, yeasty, and slathered in powdered sugar frosting, these were the sustenance between bouts of opening presents.
When I had to go gluten-free after being diagnosed with celiac, I went years without eating them. And then, my curiosity and stubborn nature compelled me to work on them, repeatedly. After quite a few baking messes and careful notes, I realized that it's entirely possible to have soft, yeasty cinnamon rolls without gluten. —glutenfreegirl

  • Makes 12 to 18 rolls, depending on the size of the rolls
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 cup warm milk (use your favorite non-dairy milk, if you wish)
  • 300 grams finely ground almond flour
  • 170 grams arrowroot four
  • 30 grams psyllium husk
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, very soft at room temperature
In This Recipe
  1. Proofing the yeast. Stir together the yeast, coconut sugar, and milk in a small bowl. Let them sit and mingle until there is a bubbly foam on the surface of the water. This means your yeast is alive and ready to go.
  2. Combining the dry ingredients. Whisk together the almond flour, arrowroot flour, psyllium husk, and salt. (For best results, whirl them together in the food processor to aerate the flours.) Set aside.
  3. Making the dough. Put the dry ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer and turn the mixer on low. Add the two eggs, one at a time, waiting until the first egg is fully incorporated into the dough before adding the next. Slowly, pour in the melted butter, then the yeasty water. The final dough should be wet, gathering around the paddle of the mixer, then slowly slumping off it when you turn off the mixer. Do not expect this to look like gluten dough.
  4. Letting the dough rest. Transfer the cinnamon roll dough to a large, greased bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set the dough in a warm place. Allow the dough to sit for 2 to 3 hours. Remember that gluten-free dough will not rise as much as gluten dough. What you are really doing here is letting the flours and psyllium and liquids hydrate. When the dough is softer to the touch than it was before, slightly risen, and feels more like traditional dough than it did before, you are ready to go.
  5. Preparing to bake. Heat the oven to 375° F. Grease a 9-inch cake pan.
  6. Rolling out the dough. Cut the dough into two balls. Lay a greased piece of parchment paper down on the counter. Put one of the dough balls onto the paper. Top with another greased piece of parchment paper. Slowly, roll out the dough into a long oval shape.
  7. Filling the dough. Mix the cinnamon and coconut sugar together. Spread the butter over the dough, taking it almost to the edge. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the dough.
  8. Rolling up the dough. Roll the long side of the dough, using the parchment paper to push the dough onto itself. Keep the dough log as tight as possible. Use a knife or bench scraper to cut the log into 2-inch pieces. (You can make the rolls as small or large as you want, of course.) Put the rolls into the greased cake pan. Repeat with the other ball of dough, filling the cake pan.
  9. Let the rolls sit in a warm place to rise again, about 45 minutes.
  10. Bake the rolls until the rolls are slightly firm to the touch and beginning to brown, about 20 minutes.
  11. Let the rolls cool for 15 minutes, then put a plate on top of the cake pan, and flip them over. Voila! Cinnamon rolls. Frost as you desire.

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Shauna writes about food. Danny cooks it. We grow excited every Saturday morning to go to the farmers' market. This time of year, a Billy Allstot tomato is enough to make us look like goons at the stand, jumping up and down with excitement. We will eat one slice with sea salt, standing over the sink. Another goes to our baby daughter. The rest might go into the smoker to make smoked tomato salsa, or thrown together with watermelon and good olive oil for a watermelon gazpacho, or stacked with smoked salmon and drizzled with horseradish sour cream. Every day is new. I have no idea what we're having for dinner tonight. But I'm sure interested to find out.