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cinnamon rolls - gluten free or gluten-y?

cinnamon rolls - gluten free or gluten-y?

When I got back from Spain I worked in a cinnamon roll shop in San Luis Obispo California. A small family owned and run bakery, I learned 1st hand from the owner how to make their famous cinnamon rolls. Coming home covered in flour & powdered sugar, smelling of cinnamon everyday, extra buns in hand - it was one of my and my roommate's favorite jobs. I even fulfilled my lifelong dream of being Queen Frostine as I was in charge of making several pounds of cream cheese frosting a few times a day (the only cream cheese thing I’ll eat to this day).

gluten free cnnamon roll

gluten free cnnamon roll

gluten free cinnamon roll

Being GF I couldn’t eat any of the buns (a blessing), except for Thursdays when we had the gluten-free buns for sale! The owners had developed their own gluten-free flour mixture to make these buns. Delicious, but never as fluffy as the glutenous buns, we shot ideas back and forth about how to get them to puff up. Adding tapioca starch, xanthan, allowing a longer/shorter proof, nothing really worked to change the frame of the rolls.

gluten free cinnamon roll

A year and a half later I decided to dive back into the mystery that is the density of the gluten-free cinnamon roll. These turned out less than perfect & very much like the one’s we made in the shop, delicious but dense.

If you go for normal flour however, you’ll get the rise and the fluff you’re looking for guaranteed.

(gfo) (vo)


2 ¼ + ½ cup all-purpose (gluten-free) flour
3 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
1 package instant yeast (1 packet = 2 ¼ tsp)
½ cup water
¼ cup almond milk - or milk
2 and ½ tbsp unsalted butter
1 large egg - or egg sub, flax meal works best

3 tbsp unsalted butter (softened, at room temperature)
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
¼ cup granulated sugar

1 cup confectioners' aka powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2-3 tbsp almond milk - or milk


  1. Make the dough: Whisk together the 2 ¼ cups flour, the sugar, salt, and yeast until combined in a large bowl. Put aside.

  2. In a microwave safe bowl, combine the water, milk and butter together. Heat in the microwave (15-30 second increments stirring in between) until the butter is melted and the mixture is hot when you touch it.

  3. Slowly pour the hot butter mixture into the large bowl of flour stirring until just combined. Add the egg along with enough of the remaining flour to form soft dough. I only needed a little over a ¼ cup. When the dough begins to pull away from the side of the bowl and is slightly elastic your dough is ready!
    **Always remember: less is more, a little bit goes a long way, give an inch go a mile yada yada yada…

  4. On a lightly floured flat surface, knead the dough for about 3-4 minutes. Place dough in a large bowl covered with cling wrap or a damp towel, let rest for 10 minutes.
    ** Know how to knead:
    Push dough down with the heal of your hand (3-4 times)
    Fold in half
    Turn 180° 

  5. Make the filling:  Mix together the cinnamon and sugar while dough is resting. When the dough is ready, roll the dough out in a 14x8 inch rectangle. Place the dough between two sheets of lightly floured parchment paper or cling wrap to roll out.

  6. Peel of top layer of wrap/paper. Using a rubber spatula spread the softened butter all over the top. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mix all over the dough, leaving a 1/4 inch border around the edges. Using the cling wrap to pick up the dough slowly, roll up the dough tightly so that you have an evenly shaped and sized roll of dough. Cut into 9-10 even pieces and place in a lightly greased 9-inch round pan. I used a 9 inch baking pyrex dish.

  7. Cover the rolls with a piece of aluminum foil loosely wrapped around the dish. The rolls will need about 60 - 90 minutes to rise in a warm place.
    ** Make your own proofing oven: Heat your oven to 200° and then turn it off, placing the rolls inside the warmed oven to rise.

  8. You’ll know our rolls are fully proofed when the rolls have doubled in size. Remove from the oven and immediately preheat to 375°. Place your buns back in the oven at 375° and bake for 25 minutes or until the buns are lightly browned.
    * Trick for avoiding super brown rolls: cover with aluminum foil for the first 10 minutes.

  9. Make the glaze: In a mixer or using a whisk mix the confectioners' sugar, vanilla and 2 tbsp (almond) milk. If it seems too thick, add 1 tbsp (almond) milk.

  10. Remove buns from the oven and immediately glaze, sealing in the moisture! You can always add more once they’ve cooled for the classic frosting chunk pic!

For the prep people: This dough can be made the night before. Instead of the first 10 minute proofing set, cover the dough with cling wrap or a damp towel and put in the fridge overnight to rise. Next day, allow to rise for 1 more hour at room temp then continue from step 5.

The buns are best when eaten the same day, and usually only last that long, however if you have incredible self control you can cover and leave at room temperature for up to 3 days. OR put in a freezer bag and freeze them (with or without frosting) and they keep for 3 months! Pop in the microwave or thaw and bake for 5 min on 350° - great for quick treats whenevah!



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