Gluten-Free Dinner Rolls. Photo by Jeanne Sauvage
Thanksgiving, routinely a flour-heavy culinary event, is my favorite holiday — so you can imagine what a bummer it was to learn that gluten was a key factor in the health problems I’d been battling for many years. While I was relieved to find the culprit in my health drama, I have to say that a lifetime of Thanksgivings sans pie, stuffing and dinner rolls made for a grim holiday season indeed.
I’m never one to back down from a challenge. Slowly, as I learned to bake using a completely new set of rules, I discovered that gluten-free baked goods can rival their wheaty counterparts. I learned how to make a gluten-free version of Thanksgiving stuffing, a fantastic butternut squash pie, and everything else that a normal person would sit down to enjoy with their loved ones. Sure, at first my family balked at my “weird” cornbread, but once they came around, they discovered that what I was making tasted good. Actually, I’d venture to say that my from-scratch versions tasted better than a lot of the prefab, processed stuff that my family normally layed out on the table during the holidays. But that’s another post.
Somewhere out there, I know there’s a person who’s just gotten a diagnosis of celiac disease, or maybe someone they love has gotten the diagnosis. Either way, they’re suddenly in a similar position as I was all those years ago, wondering what the hell to make for Thanksgiving dinner when you can’t use white flour. Well, guess what? You’re in luck! These days gluten-free resources are ripe for the picking, unlike a decade ago when they’d look at you funny if you walked into the grocery store and asked for brown rice flour and xanthan gum. Now, gluten-free blogs abound and bookstores have entire shelves dedicated to gluten-free cooking. To say we live in a time of gluten free bounty would be an understatement.
So what did I miss most about Thanksgiving once I learned I was gluten intolerant? What was the first thing I just had to recreate so that I could enjoy this holiday like a normal person? You might laugh at the simplicity of my needs, but I’ll share anyways: it was the humble dinner roll. More than anything, I wanted a soft, warm roll that I could spread with a swath of sweet cream butter and soak up the pools of meaty gravy on my plate.
This year I found a gluten-free dinner roll recipe that puts mine to shame. This recipe comes from Jeanne Sauvage, an intrepid gluten-free baker who chronicles her adventures at The Art of Gluten-Free Baking. These light, airy rolls are perfect for soaking up any leftover turkey goodness, or for enjoying on their own whenever the carb fiend demands more than a bowl of rice.
Photo by Jeanne Sauvage
Gluten-Free Dinner Rolls for Thanksgiving
By Jeanne Sauvage of The Art of Gluten-Free Baking
Makes: about 20 rolls
Ingredients for Jeanne’s gluten-free all-purpose flour mix:
1 1/4 cup brown rice flour
1 1/4 cup white rice flour
1 cup tapioca flour
1 cup sweet rice flour
2 scant teaspoons xanthan gum
Prepare the flour mix:
1. Sift ingredients together and store in the refrigerator.
Ingredients for dinner rolls:
Melted butter for pan and brushing tops of rolls
Tapioca flour for coating pan
1/4 cup sugar
2 cups warm (not hot) milk
2 tablespoons active dry yeast, such as Red Star
3 cups Jeanne’s gluten-free all-purpose flour mix (recipe above)
1 tablespoon xanthan gum
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Prepare the gluten-free dinner rolls:
1. Butter muffin tins well and dust with flour.
2. In a small bowl, whisk sugar into warm milk. Add yeast and whisk to dissolve. Set aside to allow the yeast time to proof — you’ll know this is happening when it starts to get foamy on top.
3. In a medium-sized bowl, mix together flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
4. In bowl of stand mixer, beat together eggs, apple cider vinegar and oil. Add yeast mixture, beat well, then add flour mixture, beating on high with paddle attachment for 3 minutes.
5. Spoon dough into prepared muffin tins, filling to 3/4 of each cup. With a butter knife that has been dipped in tapioca flour, cut a deep slash in the top of each roll. Don’t worry if there’s a little extra tapioca flour left on the rolls.
6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Put muffin tins on top of stove to rise in close proximity to warmth of the preheating stove. Let rise until they have just about doubled in bulk, about 40 minutes. Once rolls have risen, brush the top of each with melted butter and bake in preheated oven until the tops are a nice golden brown, about 20 minutes.
7. Remove rolls from tins and place them in a towel-lined basket to keep warm. These rolls keep well, although you’ll probably eat them all the day you bake them!
I’d like to share a few more recipes that I’ve grown to love over the years as I crafted the perfect gluten-free Thanksgiving dinner spread. These dishes are from people who truly love — and live — the art of gluten-free eating. You’ll find them not only satisfying, but seductive, gratifying, and tantalizing to every centimeter of your palate.