If you enjoy a soft, buttery roll pulled fresh from a hot oven, then you know how finding good gluten free rolls is a must. No, not an option, but a must. Rolls compliment just about any meal, from breakfast to dinner. And they can be made ahead of time, with yeast or without yeast.
Gluten free rolls are unique in that they require different flour combinations and the liquid ingredients to dry ingredients ratio must be in line. Plus, the lesson in “gums” can be confusing, not to mention the rising and baking of the dough (which more resembles batter).
So, to clear up any confusion, and to ensure you get that soft, buttery roll every time you bake, here are 4 things to keep in mind for the best tasting gluten free rolls.
1. Different Flour Combinations
Gluten free baking is all about combining flour. In most recipes you will find 2, 3 sometimes even four flour combinations. While this may seem confusing, it is all done for a reason. Each flour provides a different taste, different function and different end result for your baked good. For example, bean flours are typically very strong in taste and for that reason, many bakers prefer not to use them. However, they are a good source of fiber and compliment a sorghum flour very nicely.
In contrast, rice flour has a very mild taste and works well in just about any recipe. Sorghum is a very popular flour and pairs very nicely for a light and airy roll.
As a general rule of thumb, flours with a stronger taste should make up no more than 25 – 30% of your flour blend combination. But make sure you have a protein flour (sorghum, millet, teff, gluten free oatmeal or buckwheat) in your mix – this is what adds structure and flavor to your breads.
2. Liquid to Dry Ingredients Ratio
Ratios are what give gluten free baking the trial and error characteristic.
Ultimately, these ratios also allow you to easily double or even triple (most) recipes, as long as you stay in line with the original ratio of liquid to dry. Keep in mind that many gluten free recipes require more liquid than other recipes.
For example, in a typical gluten free yeast bread or roll recipe, the ratio of 5 parts flour to 3 parts liquid is fairly common. In a gluten free quick bread, it’s more like 2 parts flour to 2 parts liquid to 1 part egg to 1 part fat. These are not set-in-stone facts, but generally, as long as you use much less liquid than flour in your yeast breads and rolls, you should be on the right track.
3. A Quick Lesson in Xanthan Gum and Guar Gum
These gums may have strange names but they serve a very important purpose in our gluten free recipes. Think of them like the gluten in a wheat based recipe. Without it, the dough would fall apart. The same is true with these gums. Without one or the other, the recipe will not turn out as you expect.
So what’s the difference between them and how can you use them in a roll recipe?
They are actually very different in taste, but the same in function. Xanthan gum is corn-based and generally more widely used than guar gum. It’s also more expensive however.
Guar gum comes from a legume plant and therefore very high in fiber. It has been said that guar gum has eight times the thickening power of cornstarch! The negatives with guar gum are since it is so high in fiber, it has also been linked to gastrointestinal upset in some people.
Using them is again, a trial and error – in either case, a small amount of the gums is all you need in your recipes – ½ tsp. to 1 tsp. is plenty.
4. Rising and Baking of the Batter
Gluten free batter is not like your typical bread batter. It actually more closely resembles cake batter than bread batter. This is alarming the first time you bake bread or rolls. You expect to see this nicely formed ball of dough swirling around in your mixer bowl and it just doesn’t happen. Adding more flour just makes it worse, as the final result is really dense and even hard as a rock.
So the answer is, don’t expect it look like regular wheat based dough. This is gluten free dough. And gluten free baking is completely different.
The rising and baking of this batter is unique as well. Rising can be hardly noticeable or it can be a nicely risen loaf. It all depends on the recipe. Often, the rise time will be much longer than that of non-gluten breads. The reason has to do with the lack of gluten in the bread.
Accurate baking of a gluten free bread depends on having an instant read thermometer handy. These great little devices give you an instant temperature of your bread, telling you if it’s done – breads will typically fall in the 205 -210 degree range.
So with these 4 tips on baking gluten free breads and rolls, you’ll be baking the softest, most tender rolls ever. The only question is which recipe do you start with?