Next up in our 12 Tastes of Christmas series is a mouthwateringly decadent (and gluten-free!) recipe perfect for whipping up this Christmas morning. I have loved getting to know Beth Manos Brickey of Tasty Yummies over the blogosphere this past year… not only is she ridiculously talented, she’s just one of those people that sends off positive vibes in everything that she does. I was particularly excited that she shared a gluten-free version of her family’s Christmas morning cinnamon rolls, since it reminded me so much of my mom’s almond kringle bread that she makes every year for our family. Amazing how certain foods just taste like the holidays and communicate so much love. Thanks for sharing yours with us, Beth… now take it away! -CS
After making the (huge) move from New York to California earlier this year, I knew that the holidays would be an especially hard time of year for missing my family. When the first signs of the season hit, I was instantly an emotional wreck (crying in the decorations aisle at Target, at the tree lighting ceremony at Disneyland… you get the gist.) Since we wouldn’t be making the trip back home this first year, I quickly realized how important it would be to bring my family’s holiday traditions to our new home.
Every Christmas morning for as long as I can remember, my mom would form a batch of her homemade cinnamon rolls into the shape of a Christmas tree. Some years, she would get creative and decorate the tree with sprinkles or color the icing green, but no matter what, they were always in the shape of a tree. The sweet rolls served as a final gift to enjoy together after every other present from under the tree had been opened. It’s the little things like this – 34 years of the same Christmas traditions – that I’m going to especially miss this year. Since being gluten-free for almost a decade, my Mom and I have attempted GF versions, but it’s been tough to get the recipe exactly right. But even if I didn’t have any to eat, it was enough just to see everyone enjoying them around the table.
Due to the distance this year, I wanted to recreate my mom’s rolls more than ever, so I started planning early, determined to figure out how to make the recipe just right. I called and texted my mom while I baked, asking questions and sending photos to make sure I was doing it perfectly, and it almost felt as though she was there with me in my kitchen. As I placed the final roll onto the pan to complete the Christmas tree, classic Christmas music blaring through my kitchen, I was completely consumed with tears. We’re talking full-on weeping over a tray of cinnamon rolls, crying as my kitchen was filled with the familiar aroma of home. It may not be the same as the Christmases I’ve always known, but at least I’ll have a small piece of my family with me while we enjoy with these soft and chewy sweet cinnamon rolls.
Does your family have a Christmas morning breakfast tradition?
Gluten-free Cinnamon Rolls
(with Dairy-free options)
makes approximately 18-20 rolls
Sweet Roll Dough
- 1 package active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
- 1/2 cup warm water (110º to 115º F)
- 3/4 cup warm coconut milk (or other dairy or non-dairy milk of your choice)
- 1/3 cup organic raw sugar
- 1/3 cup butter, coconut oil, shortening or non-dairy butter substitute, softened
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 teaspoons whole psyllium husk
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 3 1/2 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour (plus a bit more for rolling.) I used this one.
- In the bowl of your stand-up mixer, dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Allow it to rest for approximately 5-10 minutes . Stir in the milk, sugar, butter, salt, psyllium husk, egg and 2 cups of the flour. Beat until flour is incorporated and smooth and then add the rest of the flour. It will be a bit stickier than a standard gluten containing dough. Don’t worry about it being so different, don’t add more flour. This is it’s own beast.
- Once the dough is fully mixed, divide it in half and place each in a greased bowl, lightly oil the top of the dough. Cover and let rise in a warm place, for about 1 1/2 hours.
- 1/4 cup butter, coconut oil or non-dairy butter substitute, softened
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar of your choice
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- After the dough has raised and it is nearly double in size, take one dough ball at a time and lay it on a piece of very lightly floured parchment paper. I use a ruler and make tiny marks on the parchment paper ahead of time to mark 15 x 9 inches. Lightly flour your rolling pin and roll the dough into a 15×9 rectangle. Spread the surface of your dough with half of the softened butter (or coconut oil), mix together the cinnamon and sugar and sprinkle half of it over the rectangle.
- Roll it up tightly, from the 15-inch side. Pinch the edge of the dough to seal it. A teeny bit of water may help. Very lightly wet your hands and smooth out any tiny tears, etc. Stretch the roll gently to make even-ish. Cut into 9 or 10 1 1/2 inch slices. Don’t worry about the slightly smaller ones at the end of the roll, those work great for the trunk of the Christmas tree.
- Place the rolls on a lightly greased cookie sheet if you are making a tree or in a greased 9×13 glass pan.
- Repeat with the second ball of dough. Finish making your Christmas tree shape. Get the rolls nice and snug up to each other. Tucking the ends of the rolls towards the middle, so they don’t unwind while rising or baking.
- Let rise in a warm place, about 40 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 375ºF. Bake until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Spread with the icing while they are still slightly warm.
- 1 1/2 cups organic powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil, slightly softened or shortening
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 1/2 tablespoons non-dairy or dairy milk (I used full-fat coconut milk)
- dash salt
- Beat together with a mixer until smooth and creamy. If it’s too thick, add a bit more milk, if it is too thin, add a bit more powdered sugar.