Growing up, my grandmother would make homemade “sweet rolls” every year at Christmastime. She was a wonderful cook, and she had lots of specialties, but her sweet rolls were at the top of the list — that and her authentic Scottish shortbread which we have never been able to reproduce no matter how hard we try. (She emigrated from Scotland when she was a teenager, and she made this dense, slightly sweet shortbread the likes of which I have never had anywhere else before or since.)
When Grandmother was in her late sixties, she had a massive stroke. Suddenly this busy, active woman became partially paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair for the rest of her life. Her speech was garbled, but her mind was still sharp. Unfortunately she had all her recipes in her head. They were not written down anywhere, and she operated in pounds and ounces, not cups and teaspoons. My mom wanted to see her recipes carried on (plus we were all begging for Grandmother’s sweet rolls and shortbread!) so she tried to get my grandmother to dictate them to her.
My mom tried to make them several times, and when they weren’t quite right, she would talk to my grandmother and try again. We were never able to duplicate that shortbread. We were, however, eventually able to make sweet rolls that bore a pretty decent resemblance to my grandmother’s! Now my mom makes them every Thanksgiving and Christmas, and they have become a treasured holiday tradition for our family.
Those sweet rolls are one of the things I miss most being gluten-free.
Thank goodness my friend Donielle came to the rescue! A few years ago, I was hankering for sweet rolls at Christmastime and I came across Donielle’s recipe for Gluten-Free Cinnamon Rolls. I made them, and they turned out to be quite delicious. I haven’t done a lot of gluten-free baking, but this is one recipe I keep coming back to. It’s become a holiday tradition in our house. They don’t really taste like my grandmother’s, but they still hit the spot! Even my family (who doesn’t eat gluten-free except by default) enjoys them!
If you have someone in your life who is gluten-free and has a sweet tooth, they will love you forever if you make these!!
You can click over and print out the recipe from Donielle’s site, but I thought I’d show you how to make them since they are a bit fussy.
The batter requires quite a few ingredients. Welcome to gluten-free baking! So make sure you read the recipe and have everything you need on hand. I find my batter to be pretty wet and have to add a bit more brown rice flour to make it of rolling consistency, but you can add that at the end if you feel you need it.
So once you get your batter together, this is how to make the rolls! You will do this twice, each time with half of the dough.
Donielle recommends rolling out the dough between layers of plastic wrap, so that’s how I do it. The dough is pretty sticky, so this method keeps your rolling pin and counters clean!
Then you lift the top layer of plastic wrap off and spread cinnamon sugar on top of the dough.
Now comes the tricky part! To roll up the dough, use the plastic wrap that is under the dough. Lift it up and start rolling, using the plastic wrap to guide it. Try to keep it as tight and even as possible. I was taking the picture with one hand and holding the plastic wrap with the other, but you will want to use two hands!
This is how it should look.
Then you want to cut it into 8 equal parts. I use a serrated bread knife, and I first cut it in half; then I cut each half in halves to make 4. Then each of those I cut in half again to make 8. This makes fairly even cinnamon rolls!
Carefully place them in your buttered pan, trying not to let too much cinnamon-sugar escape. Then you do the same process again with the other half of the dough. This makes 16 rolls, and I put them in a 13×9 pan in 5 rows of 3, except one row will have 4.
Pop ’em in the oven, and bake until they are slightly browned on top and cooked through. I had to cook a bit longer than Donielle recommended, but every oven is different. You do want to watch that they don’t get overcooked on the bottom, but they need to be cooked through.
Then slather them with your favorite frosting! I like Donielle’s cream cheese frosting, but I usually make them with my grandmother’s frosting so they taste more like her coveted sweet rolls.
Get the recipe for Gluten Free Cinnamon Rolls at Natural Fertility and Wellness.
Following is the recipe for my grandmother’s icing.
- 1 box of confectionary sugar
- ¾ stick of butter, melted
- 2-3 TBSP heavy cream
- Cream sugar and butter together with a mixer; it will be dry and crumbly at this point.
- Warm up a small amount of cream....a few tablespoons. Just warm a little in the microwave. Grandmother always said it is creamier warm.
- Then ever so gradually, drip the warm cream into the icing while mixing slowly until you get the consistency you want.
- This makes a LOT of icing. You may want to cut it in half.