Cinnamon rolls take me back to my childhood, to the times when we would wake up on the weekend, crack open a can of Pillsbury rolls and devour them shortly after taking them out of the oven. Not the most sophisticated cinnamon rolls, but they were a part of our family's weekend tradition and they bring back warm, fuzzy memories. Flash forward many years, to the time when I found out I had celiac. At first it felt almost like a prison sentence, and I morned not being able to eat gluten-filled desserts like cinnamon rolls again, especially the ones Andy and I would treat ourselves too on our trips to IKEA.
It took some time for me to get up the courage to begin playing around with a gluten free cinnamon roll recipe. The biggest issues were creating a dough that had the right texture, would not crack or be too wet and sticky to roll. After many failed attempts, I took a break from this pursuit. Years later, so serendipitously, I stumbled across Sini's Finnish Cinnamon Rolls over at her blog My Blue & White Kitchen and fell in love with the idea of adding one of my favorite spices, cardamon, to these beloved baked goods. With this newfound inspiration, I took my apron off the hook and started experimenting again.
At this stage in the game with my diet, I avoid consuming refined sugars and try to keep my sweet treats to a minimum. And when I do make a dessert, it is with the least amount of sugar possible, while still maintaining a fair amount of sweetness. I also love using whole food sweeteners whenever possible - check out my date puree - and remembered Sarah Britton had a Cinnamon Bun recipe using dates and pecans for her filling, which I totally borrowed and tweaked for this recipe.
In the midst of trying to create these gluten free cinnamon rolls, I was contacted by Tenera Grains about developing a recipe using one of their teff flours. And like clockwork, everything came together for this teff and cardamom inspired recipe. I chose to sample Tenera's ivory teff flour - it is lighter in color and a bit more delicate in taste than brown teff, which makes it ideal for sweeter baked goods - and got busy baking way too many batches of cinnamon rolls. For those of you who don't know much about teff flour, you can find out all about its health benefits over at Tenera's site.
The good news is that I believe I have finally created one of the most nutrient dense cinnamon roll recipes that tastes pretty darn amazing - at least that is what my taste testers have been telling me! And as an added bonus, I have created 2 topping options, which both taste equally fantastic with these rolls!
I look forward to creating new traditions with these cinnamon rolls with our daughter, Estere...
cinnamon rolls ingredients
makes 8 rolls
3/4 cup Tenera Grains ivory teff flour
3/4 cup sweet rice flour
1/2 cup oat flour + 1 1/2 tablespoons for rolling out the dough
2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon coconut palm sugar or other sugar of choice
2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
2 tablespoons ground chia seeds
2 teaspoons cardamom
1 teaspoon vanilla bean powder or 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 1/4 teaspoons dry active yeast
1/2 cup plant-based milk of choice
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
8 tablespoons (4 ounces) plant-based butter
6 Medjool dates pitted and chopped
2/3 cup water
1 tablespoon cinnamon
dash of freshly grated nutmeg
pinch of sea salt
1/2 cup pecans chopped (soaked up 6 to 8 hours or toasted) - optional
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean powder
1/3 cup coconut yogurt or other yogurt of choice
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean powder or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Begin by making the filling. Add all of the ingredients listed above to a small sauce pan and bring to a slow boil, stirring regularly. Then lower the heat and let simmer for 5 minutes, until the dates become soft and the mixture turns pastelike. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Now it's time to work on the dough. Add the 1/2 cup of milk and 1 teaspoon of sugar to a small saucepan and heat to a lukewarm temperature - make sure the temperature is not too hot or it will kill the yeast. Remove from the heat and the sprinkle the yeast over the top and set aside.
Add the rest of the dry ingredients to a large mixing bowl and whisk until well combined.
Cut in the butter using a pastry cutter, then stir in the applesauce and yeast mixture. Stir vigorously with a wooden spatula for about 30 seconds, until well combined. Note - if your dough is super sticky or you would like nice clean lines when you roll, you can place the dough in the refrigerator for about 10 to 15 minutes to make it more manageable to work with.
Dust a piece of parchment paper (12 1/2" x 16" in size) with a bit of the oat flour, then transfer the dough to the paper and form it into a ball.
Sprinkle the top of the dough with the remaining oat flour and begin rolling the dough out into a rectangular shape.
Spread the date paste evenly over the dough using an offset spatula, leaving about a 1/2" margin around the edges.
Begin to roll the dough using the parchment paper as tightly as you can. Roll the dough over so the seam side is down and give it a quick press with the parchment paper to make sure it is nice and secure. Using a sharp knife, cut the ends off and then slice the remaining dough into 8 equal sections. Place the rolls into a greased 9" x 13" baking pan.
Preheat the oven to 350°F, cover the rolls with a tea towel and let them rise on top of the oven for approximately 15 minutes. Place the rolls in the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until they turn golden brown on top.
While the rolls are baking in the oven, choose your topping of choice and refrigerate after making it. Once the rolls have finished cooking, remove from the oven and let cool for about 15 minutes. Then drizzle or brush on the glaze/frosting and serve immediately. These cinnamon rolls will last 3 days covered at room temperature or for up to 5 days covered and refrigerated. Note - if using the yogurt frosting, you will want to refrigerate the leftovers, assuming there are any.
"Anyone who gives you a cinnamon roll fresh out of the oven is a friend for life."
~ Lemony Snicket