I’m back on the internet and back in the kitchen. I feel like Freddie Mercury dancing around, singing, “Don’t stop me now!”
First of all, check out this awesome present I got from my sweet husband:
He ordered it online, and it arrived at my parents’ house the same day I did. One of the pieces shattered in delivery, but it appears it was faulty packaging. I didn’t want to take the chance of sending the whole thing back and getting another broken piece, so I opted for a partial refund. Now I have a 27 piece set! I used nine of the pieces last night, on a whim, to make something I’ve been craving for weeks. I found a recipe online that looked good, but it was vegan. I’m still not vegan. I have no interest in going vegan ever again. Once I started changing the vegan items for others, I started playing around more and more with the ingredients until it barely resembled where it started. I think I must have said “Well, it’s an experiment anyway!” and “Oh, I hope this turns out well!” about 50 times as I was making it!
While they’re not the same as cinnamon rolls, these guys acted as my main inspiration:
I remember eating these bad boys with my dad. I don’t think I have ever just taken a bite out of one. I always had to peel it apart, layer by layer, until I got to the softest, most cinnamony part of the center. I don’t even know if pecan swirls actually have pecans in them because that’s sure not in my memory. All I know is that, as I started to work on my dough in the kitchen last night with my father as my assistant, I couldn’t wait to pull apart some pastry.
Pecan Cinnamon Rolls
For the filling:
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup honey powder (if you don’t have honey powder, substitute more brown sugar)
3 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup pecans, chopped and divided
dash of salt
1 tablespoon butter, melted
For the dough:
2 1/2 cup Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free all purpose flour (if you mix your own, go for brown rice, tapioca, and potato starch)
3/4 cup sorghum flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 1/2 cups buttermilk (I used 2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar and filled the measuring cup up to 1 1/2 cups with plain milk — I thought the lemon might be too sour in the dough — and let it sit for about 5 minutes), divided
7 tablespoons butter, divided and melted
Spray or extra butter for pan
For the icing:
3 tablespoons cream cheese
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup icing sugar
Half of the chopped pecans from the filling mix
3 tablespoons buttermilk (from the dough division)
Large mixing bowl
Two small mixing bowls
Three small reserve bowls (milk, flour, butter)
Bowl or pan for melting butter
Pie dish or other round baking dish
Measuring cups and spoons
Microwave or stove for melting butter and heating milk
Knife, spoon, and fork
Parchment paper, cling film, or Press ‘N Seal Wrap (worked for me!)
Depending on how fast or slow you are in the kitchen, you can go ahead and preheat the oven to 425°F/220°C. I waited to start until I was kneading the dough to preheat because I’m slow.
Go ahead and measure out your vinegar and milk, if you don’t use buttermilk, and let it rest to the side.
For the filling, combine the brown sugar, white sugar, honey powder, cinnamon, half of the chopped pecans (1/8 cup or so), and salt in a small mixing bowl. Stir together with a fork. When you are sure it is combined, stir in 1 tablespoon melted butter. When well-combined, it should look like wet sand. Set aside.
Start on your dough by combining the all purpose flour and sorghum in the large bowl. Measure out about 1/2 cup and put in a reserve bowl to the side. Back in the big bowl, add in baking powder, baking soda, and xanthan gum and stir with the wooden spoon.
Reserve 1/4 cup of the milk mixture in a bowl and set aside. Heat the remaining milk mixture in the microwave or on the stove. You DO NOT want it boiling or steaming hot. You only want it warm. Slowly mix 3 tablespoons of melted butter into the warm milk. Because the milk is warm, the butter should not curdle the milk and the milk should not congeal the butter back into solids. Add the milk/butter mixture into the large mixing bowl, stir a few times, and add 2 1/2 more tablespoons of melted butter into the mix. Stir with the wooden spoon until you can feel resistance and cannot see any lumps of flour (about 45 seconds for me).
Put down a layer of whatever paper you choose for your work surface. I used Press ‘N Seal wrap because it could “stick” to the surface and was thick enough that I could use it as a tool. If you do use Press ‘N Seal, just make sure that the adhering side is DOWN; the smoother side should be facing up toward you.
Sprinkle about 3/4 of the reserved flour on the surface and dump your dough on top. Yes, it is a lot of flour. Yes, you will need it all. Begin working the dough with your hands and kneading in all the flour. It will be very sticky, and you will probably think you’ve done something wrong. Keep going! Once you have integrated all the flour and you’re starting to notice it looking like a real dough, sprinkle the rest of the flour onto it and knead into the dough.
Once you have it all looking nice and like it might have a promising future as a pastry, spread or roll it out into a 10″x12″ rectangle. If you want a lot of swirl with thinner sides, spread it a bit further than 10 inches, but maintain the 12 inch side. Take 1 tablespoon melted butter (if you’re doing the math, you should have 1/2 tablespoon left!) and spread it over the middle of the dough, all the way to the edges. Go back and get your filling mixture you made earlier and cover all but the very edges of the dough with it. There is a lot. I like it that way. If you want a higher pastry to cinnamon ratio, use a bit less. But, then, if you don’t like cinnamon, why are you making cinnamon rolls?
Now for the fun part. It’s where I found the Press ‘N Seal saved the day. I literally lifted the front and used it to roll the dough over on to itself. If you are using a different surface, it may do the same thing. If your dough wants to stick, you might need a metal spatula to pry it up. Once you have the first roll, lightly press down — you don’t want to mash it into the other side, but you do want it to know where it belongs. Continuing rolling until you have a log. If the dough splits open at the end, patch it up. If it’s in the middle, it probably won’t matter. Cut the log into eight 1 1/2″ slices — I actually cut some of mine thinner and thicker to make some crispy and some smooshy. It’s up to you. Arrange them in a circle around the pie dish, and then squish some in the middle, too. Press down with your palm to spread them out enough to touch. Brush with the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of melted butter.
Bake for 24-25 minutes, but, as always, check on them before the timer goes. You don’t want your hard work to burn because your oven is different than mine!
While they bake, mix up the icing. Whisk together the cream cheese, cinnamon, icing sugar, and buttermilk until it is combined. I never remember to sift the icing sugar, so it took a little elbow grease to get the lumps out. Stir in the chopped pecans.
When the rolls are done, let them sit for five minutes before icing them. Use a spoon to drizzle as much or as little icing as you want. Do not, however, let your mother dunk her finger into the icing bowl. I would pour the whole bowl of icing over her cinnamon roll before I would let that happen!
Oh, and these guys are great the next day. Store them in the fridge and pop one in the microwave for about 25 seconds to get it soft and warm again. They are almost just as good. Trust me, I just did it.