I'm all for eating healthy 90% of the time. But on some days - like Easter, Christmas, birthdays, Fridays, Sundays, brunch dates, etc. - cinnamon rolls are a necessity. (Okay, maybe not every weekend - but you get the picture.)
The trouble with cinnamon rolls is: they're one of the worst foods for your waistline. (Like, a classic Cinnabon cinnamon roll is 830 calories and nearly 60 grams of sugar. You'd have to walk over 230 minutes just to burn that off. Yikes!) Anyway - these numbers just didn't do it for me. So I set out to create a healthier version of my favorite treat.
I knew the biggest challenge to my endeavor would be finding quality gluten-free flour that would bind the same way regular bleached flour does. (For those who may not know, gluten is a binding agent; it helps bread come together. So products that are gluten-free can sometimes end up being crumbly, dry, or chalky in texture.)
I ended up trying 12 - TWELVE - different batches of roles, trying out different types of flour, additions, substitutes, etc. (Shout out to my husband who graciously taste-tested each batch!)
Anyway, all of this testing led to a rather interesting finding... Are you ready to hear about the flour I settled on?! It's Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free PIZZA Crust mix! (Don't worry, your rolls won't taste like Oregano.) I settled on this mix because it's a stronger GF blend than most "All Purpose" GF flours. That means it binds more easily, and the rolls hold together much better than they did in other expiraments.
What I ended up with will surely be a family favorite for years to come. These cinnamon rolls are fluffy, flaky, cinnamon-y goodness. And they're healthier than what you'd buy in the store or at the mall. I call that a win-win! - Can I get an amen!?
All the food jargon aside, these rolls are easy and delicious! If you're looking for a way to WOW your tribe, or if you're in charge of brunch this Easter, give these a go!
What You'll Need:
- 1 package Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Pizza Crust Mix with yeast packet included - available at Whole Foods, Fred Meyer, Safeway, and New Seasons
- 1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted for 45 seconds in the microwave *Note: to make these 100% dairy free, substitute butter for a vegan alternative, like Earth Balance
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
For the Filling:
- 1/2 cup melted coconut oil
- 3/4 cup organic brown sugar
- 3 tbsp. cinnamon
- 1 tbsp. white sugar
- Preheat the oven to 375-degrees F.
- Heat the almond milk for 45 seconds in the microwave in a microwave safe bowl. Temperature should be warm to touch (warmth helps the yeast grow). Then, sprinkle yeast packet over the warm almond milk and set aside for 10 minutes.
- Combine brown sugar, cinnamon, and white sugar from "For the Filling" in a bowl. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine pizza crust mix and 1/4 cup sugar. Add in melted butter, eggs (one at a time), and yeast mixture. Blend until thoroughly mixed using a dough hook on your Kitchen Aid, with a handheld mixture on "low". (Try not to overtax, as this will make your rolls a bit tough.)
- Lay out a piece of wax paper, or clear a clean area of counter space. Drizzle 1/2 tbsp. melted coconut oil over a surface area of 16x9" and get hands wet to work with dough. Lay out the dough and use a ceramic rolling pin to spread dough until it is roughly 1/2-3/4" thick. Once dough is approximately 16" in length and 9" in width, drizzle 1-2 Tbsp. of the melted coconut oil over the upward facing surface area. Use a spoon to evenly sprinkle topping mixture over melted coconut oil, covering the entire surface area of dough.
- Carefully roll the dough at the long side until a "log" forms. Use a knife to cut the dough into 1-1/2" pieces. Place cinnamon rolls in a prepared 8x8 pan and let them rise in a warm place, covered with a dry clean towel, for 30 minutes.
- Just before putting them into the oven, drizzle with an additional 1 tbsp. melted coconut oil.
- Bake for 22-24 minutes or until edges are golden brown.. When cooled, frost and enjoy!
For a simple homemade glaze, I combined 2 cups organic confectioners' sugar, 3 Tablespoons melted coconut oil, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 2 Tablespoons warm almond milk.
Photos courtesy of my good friend Jonathan Simons Photography