Wednesday, February 24, 2016


Hier geht's zur deutschen Version dieses Posts

I'm a curious person and love trying out new things. When "Cook's Illustrated", one of my favorite food magazines, published a gluten free cookbook, I bought it, out of curiosity, even though I have no problems with gluten.

I was especially interested in how the culinary geeks from "America's Test Kitchen" got to their good looking results. My own trials, though taste-wise acceptable, left a lot to be desired regarding their consistency.

My first gluten free bread - dense, greasy-looking crumb

When my lovely hairstylist asked me whether she could order some gluten free rolls for her Christmas menu, I jumped at the opportunity to try a recipe for dinner rolls from "The How Can It Be Gluten Free Cookbook".

The rolls get their necessary structural support from psyllium husk, a fiber supplement from the natural food aisle, more known for its beneficial effect on all kinds of digestive maladies.

The additional baking powder and lemon juice help with softening the crumb, making it less dense. The flours should be finely ground - I used Bob's Red Mill brand.

Crumb like an English biscuit

My first trial resulted in nice fluffy rolls with a consistency like English Biscuits - better than anything I had seen so far in gluten free breads.

But I was less enthusiastic, when I sampled the dinner rolls. They tasted bland and a bit doughy. With jam on top this was less noticeable, and, when toasted, they were okay.

Fluffy crumb - but too bland and doughy for my taste!

Danielle assured me, that she liked the gluten free rolls - but I couldn't stop thinking about them. I don't like selling something I'm not 100% satisfied with.

There was nothing to criticize about the structure of the dinner rolls - the test cooks with their scientific approach had really given their best.

But how could I achieve a better taste for my rolls without risking their fragile, gluten-less structure? Exchange a part of the rice flour, potato and tapioca starch for a gluten free flour with a more assertive taste?

Four different gluten-free flour mixtures

In my pastries, I often substitute a quarter of the white flour with whole grain - without any problem. I would to try the same with the dinner rolls.

To keep it simple, I decided to limit my trial to four likely candidates: oat, buckwheat, and teff, and one nut meal: hazelnut. Since I didn't want to feed my long-suffering husband with gluten free test rolls for weeks, I intended to use all four flours in one pull-apart cluster.

After some calculations, I prepared four flour mixtures (for two rolls each). Then I mixed these small dough amounts with a handheld mixer, one by one. Since there was no gluten structure to develop, longer kneading was not necessary.

Doughs with buckwheat, hazelnut, oat, and teff flour.

I was rather relieved when I was able to shape all of the doughs into rolls - the one with nut meal (my secret favorite!) was especially sticky -   (you need to roll them in your wet hands, like dumplings).

They rose as nicely as the ones from the original recipe, and showed the same fine pores when I cut them.

And the best of it - each of the four test candidates tasted good (even when eaten on its own!). To make a side-by-side comparison easier, I cut the cluster into slices, like a loaf, instead of breaking it in single rolls. 

From upper left: hazelnut, oat, teff. Lower row: teff, oat, buckwheat

GLUTEN FREE DINNER ROLLS WITH OAT, BUCKWHEAT, TEFF OR HAZELNUTS  (adapted from ATK's "The How Can It Be Gluten Free Cookbook")

(8 Rolls)

315 g/1 1/3 cups warm water (110ºF/40ºC)
2 tsp lemon juice
2 large eggs
1 egg yolk (save egg white for glaze)
185 g/6.5 oz white rice flour (finely ground)
58 g/2 oz brown rice flour (finely ground)
100 g/3.5 oz oat, buckwheat, or teff flour, or finely ground hazelnuts
53 g/1.9 oz potato starch (not potato flour!)
23 g/0.8 oz tapioca starch or flour
49 g/1.7 oz non-fat dry milk powder
13 g/2 tbsp psyllium husk
20 g/2 tbsp sugar
7 g/2 1/4 tsp instant yeast
6 g/2 tsp baking powder
7 g/1 1/2 tsp salt
85 g/3 oz butter, cut in pieces, softened

1 egg white, mixed with a pinch of salt and 1 tsp water, for brushing
rolled oats, seeds, or chopped nuts, for topping

*) If you want to make a gluten-free cluster with all of the 4 different kinds of flours (like my test batch) scroll down for the recipe.

Spray a 23-cm/9-inch round cake pan with oil spray (a springform pan works fine, too).

In a liquid measuring bowl, whisk warm water, lemon juice and egg plus yolk together.

Mix together all liquid ingredients

In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with paddle, on low speed, mix together gluten-free flours, potato starch, tapioca, milk powder, psyllium, sugar, yeast, baking powder, and salt, until combined.

Slowly add water mixture, mixing until dough comes together, about 1 minute, scraping bowl down as needed. Add butter, increase speed to medium, and beat for about 6 minutes, until all ingredients are well blended (dough will be sticky!)

My four test roll pairs

Transfer dough to a lightly oiled work surface. Divide it into 8 approximately equal pieces. With wet hands, roll each piece in your palms as if you would shape a dumpling. Place one roll in the center of the pan, and arrange the other seven around it.

Mist rolls with oil spray, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and proof for about 1 hour at room temperature (they should double in volume). 

Preheat oven to  375ºF/190ºC (steaming not necessary).

The rolls have doubled in volume

With glaze and topping ready for the oven (here the simple version)

Brush rolls with egg glaze, and sprinkle with the topping of your choice.

Bake rolls for about 40 - 50 minutes (rotating pan 180 degrees after half the baking time, for even browning), until they are golden brown.

Freshly baked dinner rolls - these could be a bit more browned

Allow rolls to cool for 10 minutes in the pan on a wire rack, then invert pan onto rack. Let them cool for 10-15, and serve warm.

We also liked them toasted (especially the ones with hazelnuts were delicious!)

They keep (wrapped) at room temperature for 3 days, and, also, freeze well (wrap in plastic and place in a freezer bag).

BreadStorm user (also of the free version) can download the formula here:


Place dry ingredients, except for the 100 g oat, buckwheat, teff or hazelnut flour, in a medium bowl. Using a whisk, stir together until well combined. Distribute the flour mixture evenly over 4 small bowls ((105 g/3.7 oz each)

Add 25 g/0.9 oz of either oat, buckwheat, teff or ground hazelnuts into each bowl, and whisk to combine.

Pour about 98 g/3.4 oz of the liquid ingredients into each of the small bowls. With handheld mixer, mix each dough, one by one, until well blended.

Place 21 g/0.7 oz of the butter pieces into each of the bowls. Again, mix each dough, one by one, until well blended.

With wet hands, shape 2 rolls from each dough. Arrange rolls in prepared pan, placing one in the center.

Otherwise, follow the steps in recipe above.

Somes Sound, Mount Desert Island, in February

Barbara Elisi from Bread & Companatico wrote a really interesting series about gluten sensitivity that gave me some new insights: Am I Gluten-Sensitive? - My Troubled Wheat Love Affair.