Special occasions in my family have always meant special bread. Soft, yeasty, slightly sweet, and rich, the rolls I remember were not a mere accessory to a good meal. Too often, rolls are an afterthought when planning a meal.
Before I developed celiac disease, I was a confident bread baker and I worked hard to make sure that bread wasn’t an afterthought in our house. I baked sourdoughs from starter, fresh baguettes, whole-grain sandwich loafs and the buttery Parker House Rolls that I grew up making with my mom. In culinary school I even toyed with the idea of specializing in yeast breads. I couldn’t get enough of the feel of the dough, the shaping, the aroma and the quest for the ideal crumb. Baking bread well requires a connectedness with your ingredients that is gratifying and intuitive and I loved it.
Initially, I let my gluten-free lifestyle get in the way of all that. I decided that gluten-free breads would never be able to compare, and I moved on, bread-less and somewhat defeated.
I’m not sure what triggered my change of heart, but I do know that it had a lot to do with inspiration. I had been converting many of my old recipes and the successes were so encouraging that my mind came back to bread. I had found a connectedness with a whole new set of ingredients that I had never even heard of when I was in culinary school. I was finally ready to express myself with this new pallet.
These Gluten-Free Honey Millet Rolls were one of my first creations, and they should not be an afterthought.
Gluten-Free Honey Millet Rolls (Makes 8 large rolls)
- 1 3/4 cup gluten free flour mix
- 1/4 cup millet flour
- 1/4 cup ground golden flax
- 2 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast (1 packet)
- 3/4 teaspoon sea salt (use less if you are using fine salt)
- 1 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum (I use Authentic Foods for a corn-free variety) or guar gum
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 3 tablespoons agave syrup or honey
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 cup warm water, 110 degrees
Place the dry ingredients (gf flour, millet, flax, yeast, salt, and xanthan gum) in the bowl of your standing mixer.
With the paddle attachment, slowly mix ingredients until incorporated, approximately 30 seconds.
In another bowl, gently whisk the remaining ingredients (vinegar, agave, eggs, oil and water) until combined.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients in the mixer and with the paddle attachment, mix for 2 minutes on medium-high speed (remember to start your mixer SLOWLY so you don’t end up wearing your ingredients!).
Scoop rolls with a spring-loaded, metal ice cream scoop. I use a 56MM scoop (4TB). I scoop out rolls onto a parchment lined sheet pan, but you could also use a lightly oiled sheet pan. Since the rolls mostly rise, but don’t really spread, a two inch spacing is sufficient. Then with wet fingertips, gently smooth the tops down a bit so that they bake more evenly.
Cover the rolls with well oiled plastic wrap or an inverted sheet pan carefully balanced on top, and let rise for 50 minutes in a warm place (80 degrees). I run my toaster oven once without anything in it, let it cool a bit while I’m mixing the ingredients, and then set my rolls on top to rise. You can lay an instant read thermometer alongside the rolls to monitor the temperature. Don’t allow them to get too hot, as this will lead to an accelerated rise and unstable bread which may collapse when you remove it from the oven. I am an impatient person and I have done that more times than I care to admit! Taste and texture of gluten-free breads is dependent on sufficient rise time at a warm, but not too hot temperature!
*Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
When rolls have almost doubled in height (50 minutes, but no longer than an hour) place in preheated 375 degree oven for 16-18 minutes. Rolls should be a deep golden color, and they will smell fragrant. Remove from oven and carefully move rolls to a cooling rack.
Serve warm and freeze remainder as soon as they are cool to preserve freshness. Gluten-free breads do not keep for long after baking, but freezing can preserve flavor and freshness. I gently defrost my rolls in the microwave, slice and then toast, or warm in foil in the oven.