How Not To Make Cinnamon Rolls

Today's adventure was my first foray into gluten-free baking. I am fascinated with substituting ingredients to make them taste and feel like the original ingredients.

My task: cinnamon rolls

They didn't turn out at all how I expected. I probably did something wrong. The cinnamon-soynut filling seeped out during baking and there wasn't enough sugar and it poured out when I flipped the pan over, and I didn't grind the cinnamon fine was just sloppy...the whole kit and caboodle. I'm posting it anyway, because as far and few between that my failures are, I mess up, too.

Gluten Free Cinnamon Rolls

adapted from here

Serves 8 or 9

2 Tbsp Smart Balance light
1/4 cup Dixie Crystals Extra Fine Granulated Sugar
2/3 cup non fat milk, 100 degrees F
1 packet yeast (about 1 tablespoon)
1 egg or 1/4 cup eggbeaters
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup potato flakes
1 cup corn starch
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 teaspoons xantham gum
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 - 2 tablespoons Dixie Crystals Extra Fine Granulated Sugar

1 cup Splenda brown sugar blend
1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
1/3 cup roasted soy nuts

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In medium bowl, combine Smart Balance and sugar. Mix well. Measure warm milk and add yeast to milk. Whisk well to fully dissolve

Add milk/yeast to sugar mixture. Add remaining ingredients. Mix very well, being sure to remove all lumps. The dough will be soft and squishy.
Take a piece of plastic wrap and lay it out so it covers a 13 1/2" x 13 1/2" square. Sprinkle sugar on the wrap. Lay ball of dough on top of that. Then pull out another sheet of wrap and gently lay over the dough. Pat the dough down into a square shape. Lift the top wrap up and then reposition it. Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough in between the two layers of wrap. Occasionally you'll have to lift and reposition the wrap. Make sure that when you're done you've got approximately a 13 1/2" x 13 1/2" square of dough.

Remove top piece of wrap. Combine filling ingredients. Spread evenly across dough's surface. Leave a 1/2" sugar free edge. Otherwise, all the sugar spills out.Use the bottom piece of wrap to lift the edge of the dough and start to roll it up forming a long cylinder. Start with the sugary edge, which will be the center of your roll and roll toward the sugarless edge. Cut off or trim up the irregular ends of your "log". Then cut into 8 or 9 slices of similar size, about 1 1/2" wide. Combine 1/2 cup Splenda brown sugar blend, 1/2 cup soynuts, 1/4 cup agave syrup and pour it into the bottom of a greased round glass pie pan. Place rolls on top of this mixture.

Bake approximately 20 minutes, until tops are lightly browned.

Combine powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk to make glaze. The amount of milk you use will depend on how thick you want the glaze to be. Stir until all lumps are dissolved. Drizzle over warm rolls if desired.

I was so disappointed in the outcome of these rolls, I didn't bother with a glaze. The dough soaked up my sugar/agave topping and it didn't come out ooey and gooey like I expected. And the actual roll tasted bland.

C'est la vie. Or c'est la cinnamon rolls.

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About the author

Nikki Miller-Ka

Nikki Miller-Ka

Ms. Miller-Ka is a classically trained chef with a BA in English from East Carolina University and a Culinary Arts Associate Degree from Le Cordon Bleu-Miami.

Formerly, she’s worked as a researcher, an editorial assistant, reporter and guest blogger for various publications and outlets in the Southeast. She has also worked as a catering chef, a pastry chef, a butcher, a baker, and a biscuit-maker. Presently, she is a food editor, freelance food writer, and a tour guide for Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tours.

Leave a reply

  1. Hey Nikki, I think they look just fine. What matters is taste. Looks are only for photos sake. And yours look just fine. I know we all tend to be dissatisfied with our own work, but as far as I'm concerned, you did a great job.

  2. Yeah I'm with Teresa on the whole taste thing, looks are second place on my food scale :) I'm still proud of you for posting, you're showing the food who's B-O-S-S

  3. I think learning to bake gluten free probably takes some practice to learn the ins & outs

  4. I sure haven't ever tried gluten free so I've got no advice to offer. I loved reading your profile. You've got lots going on and it's all impressive.

  5. I imagine it does take some experimenting to bake something gluten free... I've never done it myself. Your cinnamin rolls look pretty good to me.

  6. Teresa: That's the thing, they didn't taste that great. You know how texture leads to taste which leads to satisfaction?? Well, the texture left much to be desired and the taste was good but I was not satisfied.

    Adam: Thanks, man! Yeah, they do look alright, I guess. Hey, I am the boss! In words of Kelis: "I'm bossy!"

    Kat: I think I'll try some other gluten free recipes...just not right now LOL.

    Prudy: Thanks for stopping by :) Maybe next time you can offer some advice. I welcome anything I can get.

    Patsy: Thank you! I appreciate it. Yeah, like I said, I'll experiment some more, just not right now. I have to stop crying first.

  7. I LOVE that you posted something that didn't turn out like you thought. Even the most accomplished bakers/cooks/chefs don't get it perfect everytime, so I'm glad you reminded everyone of that!! And next time, they'll rock the house.

  8. Nikki, I have a whole list of recipes which didn't turn out and I am thinking one day I should post all my failures. C'est la vie.
    My question however, is why would you chose to make the cookies gluten free? I see everywhere the word gluten free and I am trying to understand why. Are they more healthy, are you allergic or something or are you just trying to experiment?

  9. i don't mind hearing about your failures if there's always an accompanying picture as appetizing as that. it certainly doesn't look like a failure from my chair. :) let us know when you nail the recipe!

  10. I love it when other people have failures - makes me feel better about mine. Maybe you were trying to make too many changes at once - like you can do gluten free OR low fat OR low sugar but not all of them that the same time?

  11. Well, I commend you for at least trying this and I commend you for posting the recipe anyway. I'm never brave enough to post my flops!

  12. Gluten allergies are nature's way of trying to either a)kill people or b)put them on Atkins. Who are we to mess with the natural order of things? If they were meant to enjoy baked goods, then their bodies wouldn't attack wheat. Just like if we were meant to enjoy eating crickets, they wouldn't be quite so gross looking.

  13. Kendra: LOL, thanks! I do hope to try these again some time. I just hope I don't mess it up. They don't sell xantham gum at Harris Teeter!

    Ivy: That would be an interesting post, to see what didn't work for you. I made the rolls as an experiment. Usually people who bake and cook gluten-free have celiac disease: they can't digest wheat or food items with gluten. I'm only allergic to nuts, but I want to expand my culinary repertoire and be able to say "Hey, I did that."

    Grace: I will definitely let you know. Yucky food can still look good, I guess. No offense to the young lady who made the recipe 1st or the man whose book it came from.

    Foodycat: Maybe you're right. I usually use lower-fat items at home and they work fine for everything else. I figured it wouldn't make such a difference this time. But then again...I don't know.

    Rachel: You're sweet. Yeah, I'm not so brave either. It took me three, almost four days to post because I wasn't sure I was ready to let the world know about it.

    Kristie: What? You mean to tell me that you don't enjoy crunching down into a pair of cricket legs? Girrrrl, what's wrong with you? ;)

  14. Loved your comment on my blog about your prom dress! Guess we are two birds of a feather!:)

  15. Gluten free baking is tough. Dont beat yourself up. And from what I see of a lot of Gluten free, its never going to look or taste as appetizing as the regular versions.But keep pluggin away. I can see you expanding with a gluten free range in the bakery.

  16. Prudy: I guess so! I'm totally going to have to find the picture of me and my prom date and post it. That would be hilarious!

    Courtney: I seriously doubt I'll be able to do stuff like that at the bakery. It most likely won't sell. Then again...maybe I'll try something this weekend.

  17. I think I need my gluten. They don't look all that bad Nik. But I am with you, nothing beats a failure, but a try. I want to make cinnamon rolls like the sticky buns I used to get at the diner at Penn State.

  18. I sooo wanna try making a roll from scratch. I wonder if I can do this.

  19. Something really strang happened when I opened this post. the damn thing will not let me read all of it. Anyway, whatever. This still made me want to ask you if you can make monkey bread?

  20. Oh baby girl, I know what you did wrong. You tried to make them gluten-free.

  21. I have never had a problem with sloppy cinnamon rolls. The sloppier, the better if you ask me.

    I have given up attempting the gluten free thing unless I am required to make something for someone with allergies.

    Gluten is just too damn delicious.

  22. Don: I need gluten, too. As much bread as I eat, I'd be crushed, heartbroken, and unable to go on living in this cruel, cruel world, if I couldn't have it.

    D: I want you to try it, too. I can't wait to see the pies you've been talkin' about.

    One man: Monkey bread? I haven't made that since I was a little girl. I loved peeling off the little pieces and rolling them around in the drippy, sugary sauce that had dripped off. Man! I'll have to revisit it now. Thanks for reminding me about it.

    Heather: LOL I know. I guess that's what it was. The recipe knew I was a gluten-lover and just refused to cooperate. Oh well.

    Brittany: Gluten free is a joke to me right now. I am laughing heartily. Sloppy food pisses me off. I hate sandwiches, sloppy joes, and foods that are meant to just fall apart. It frustrates me. I like my food nice and neat. I hate it when food falls off my fork. I don't like it at all. Just thinking about it makes my chest tight LOL Maybe it's part of my ADHD?

  23. lol... NO ONE's first foray into gluten free baking goes well! TRUST ME! I still have weeks when it doesn't go well! I still think your cinnamon rolls look delicious though! ;-P

  24. Hi Nikki,

    I'm so sorry that your foray into gluten free baking wasn't successful. As someone who has been doing it for almost three years, I can tell you that it takes time to learn the ins and outs of baking with alternative flours.

    Savory recipes don't rely on exact amounts the way the sweet recipes do. When baking breads or desserts, I find it absolutely necessary to use the exact ingredients and amounts listed in the recipe. Occasionally I can make a substitution, but only if I'm absolutely certain that the subbed ingredient will perform exactly like the listed ingredient.

    I'd venture a guess that the reason your cinammon rolls didn't hold together was because of your substitutions. For example, the Smart Balance and the Splenda that you subbed in are completely different ingredients from what I used in my recipe. If you need to use them for health reasons and not purely out of choice, I certainly understand your subbing them in. But if that's the case, I would recommend scouring the internet for a cinammon roll that uses the subbed ingredients - perhaps you'll then have more luck in the end result.

    If you are able to use the exact ingredients that I used, please give it another try. I have, and continue to have, success with this recipe. If you have any other questions, please feel free to email me through my blog.

    Good luck!



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