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Pumpkin cinnamon rolls a delicious (and gluten-free!) treat

online editor & Guest Comlunist

Published: Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, December 12, 2012 15:12


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Filled with raisins, maple syrup, and cinnamon; and topped with coconut butter and vanilla, these pumpkin cinnamon rolls are a sure-fire hit for friends and family alike this holiday season.

With three million Americans suffering from celiac disease, six times that number harboring a milder sensitivity to gluten , and an increasing amount of Vassar students choosing to follow a gluten-free diet, Vassar dining services have risen to the challenge of providing plenty of gluten-free options on campus. You’ll often find gluten-free whole grain options such as brown rice, quinoa, and gluten-free pasta in the Deece, as well as an entire gluten-free section near the salad bar boasting brown rice cakes, tamari-spiced brown rice crackers and Gorilla Munch corn puff cereal. The Retreat also often features gluten-free soups and uses gluten-free bread in many of their premade sandwiches.

Unfortunately, though, there remains a dearth of gluten-free baked goods on campus. Why should those of us enduring an inability to digest gluten also have to forgo the pleasures of delectably sweet treats? Luckily, with a bit of knowledge about substitutions for wheat flours, some baking equipment and an oven, you can craft your own cookies, cakes and muffins to accommodate any gluten-related dietary restrictions.

Creating a homemade replacement for all-purpose or whole wheat flour requires a simple 7-to-3 ratio of mixed gluten-free flours to a type of starch. The starch makes up for the gluten in wheat flour, which provides ample structure to baked goods, by acting as a powerful thickener. To make your own wheat flour replacement, combine 700 grams of gluten-free flour (almond, amaranth, brown rice, buckwheat, corn, millet, oat, quinoa, sorghum, teff, coconut, or garbanzo bean) with 300 grams of starch (arrowroot, tapioca starch, potato flour, or cornstarch). The absence of gluten in this mix renders it impossible to overmix doughs for cookies or quickbreads so that you’ll never end up with a tough, dense baked good.

While you can find all of the flours and starches listed above in health food stores as well as in many grocery stores, you can also make your own flours. To make flour from almonds or any other type of nut, including coconut, whir the nuts in a food processor or coffee/spice grinder until very finely ground. To make flour from gluten-free grains, spread your grain of choice out on a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet and bake for 15-60 minutes at 250 degrees, depending on the size of the grain, making sure they do not burn. After baking, process the grain in your food processor or coffee/spice grinder until very finely ground.

This recipe for Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls calls for specific flours, though you can replace them with two cups of your personalized gluten-free flour mix, the template for which I’ve provided above.



For the rolls:
1 cup almond flour
½ cup sorghum flour
½ cup arrowroot, tapioca flour, or potato starch
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
¼ cup coconut oil or vegan butter (like Earth Balance), at room temperature
¼ cup pumpkin puree (or applesauce, but then they won’t be pumpkin cinnamon rolls anymore!)
2 tbsp maple syrup or agave nectar
½ tbsp vanilla extract

For the filling:
2/3 cup raisins
¼ cup maple syrup or agave nectar
2 tsp cinnamon

For the icing:
3 tbsp almond, peanut, or coconut butter
2 tbsp plant-based milk (soy, almond, etc.)
¼ tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9-inch round cake pan with aluminum foil and spread a large piece of parchment paper across a flat surface.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients (almond flour through salt).

In a separate smaller bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients (coconut oil/vegan butter through vanilla extract).

Using a wooden spoon or spatula, add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir well to combine until a dough forms.

Sprinkle some flour onto the parchment paper you laid out and on a rolling pin. Place the ball of dough in the center of the parchment paper and roll it out into a large rectangle between ¼-1/2 inch thick.

To make the filling, combine all of the filling ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and blend until somewhat smooth. Pour the mixture onto the middle of the rolled-out dough and spread it out evenly, leaving about an inch of dough uncovered on the edges closest to and farthest from you.

To roll the dough around the filling, lift up the edge of the parchment paper that’s closest to you and gently tuck in the dough as you go, using the parchment paper to guide the dough as you roll—be sure to take your time.

Once you’ve rolled the dough, use a serrated knife to gently slice the dough into 2-inch-thick rolls. Place the rolls cut-side-down in your prepared cake pan, leaving a bit of space between each roll.

Bake for 15 minutes in your preheated oven.

To prepare the icing, combine all the icing ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave until the nut butter is soft, about 30 seconds. Whisk together all of the ingredients to form a smooth, pourable mixture.

When the rolls have cooled for 5 minutes, drizzle the icing on top, serve, and enjoy.


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