Best Ever Cinnamon Buns (which happen to be gluten-free)

GF cinnamon bun in a pretty bowlI’ve been promising these for a good while, and I can guarantee that they are worth the wait. My older son, who is nearly 16, is a dedicated baker and took our family’s transition to gluten free baking last year very much in his stride. Not wanting to miss out on the good stuff that he likes to whip up, he took the initiative and found a recipe for gluten free cinnamon buns that he set about adapting. He makes them for family, friends and work colleagues, and everyone – regardless of their views on gluten – clamours for more.

Why are these so good in our estimation? The flour mix that he uses (sorghum, almond flour and a small amount of tapioca starch) results in a dough that is full of flavour – much more than traditional cinnamon buns – and has a bit more body to it. These are smaller and more compact than many cinnamon buns, and simply worth indulging in!

Recently this boy has been working two jobs, as well as going to school full time, so getting the time to make another batch has been challenging, but another snow day today cleared the decks for us.

Getting the flour blend to your own taste is what matters most, far more so in gluten-free baking. The blend my son uses is the first deviation from his inspiration recipe, which is from Gluten Free on a Shoestring.

Teen measuring flour into a bowl

He also chooses to melt the butter that is used in both the dough and the filling.

Teen pouring melted butter

It’s a hands-on kind of business, this recipe.

Teen kneading dough

He pointed out to me that he likes to trap the parchment paper between himself and the counter top as a way to keep the dough from slipping around when he’s ready to roll it out. Clever lad!

Teen rolling out dough

For a while our lab Reggie sat next to him on the floor, watching intently. A dog who likes to disguise begging for food as interested observation.

Teen baking with dog in the background

At this stage the business of squaring off and trimming the edges takes place, although I’d say my son approaches these buns with a more relaxed attitude in general (and I thoroughly approve – working in the kitchen should be fun, not a chore).

Trimming cinnamon bun dough

Doubling the cinnamon and sugar for the filling is my son’s other major departure from Gluten Free on a Shoestring. He insists the resulting buns are just not as tasty otherwise!

Spreading filling for cinnamon buns

The only art direction he indulged in was to insist that I get this shot of a cross-section after cutting the individual buns from the cylinder of dough and filling. Rather nice!

Cross section of an unbaked cinnamon bun

Fitting the buns into a muffin tin comes straight from the method used on Gluten Free on a Shoestring, and it’s so sensible.

Young man holding tray of cinnamon buns

Best Ever Gluten Free Cinnamon Buns

(Inspired by Gluten Free on a Shoestring)

4 ¼ cups gluten free flour blend (we use: 2 ¾ cups sorghum flour, 1 cup almond meal, ½ cup tapioca starch)
2 teaspoons xanthan gum
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup granulated sugar
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
1 cup milk
2 cups brown sugar
4 tablespoons ground cinnamon

Step 1 – Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease a standard twelve-cup muffin tin.
Step 2 – In a large bowl, place the flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, and the granulated sugar. Stir until combined. Add half of the melted butter, the eggs, and the milk, and combine until the dough comes together. The dough should be smooth and relatively easy to handle. (The original recipe calls for between 3 ½ to 4 cups of flour, but my son says he always needs 4 ¼ cups.)
Step 3 – Turn the dough out onto a piece of parchment paper. Place another piece of parchment paper on top and roll the dough into a 10 by 15-inch rectangle, about 1/4 inch thick.
Step 4 – In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, and the remaining melted butter. Set the bowl aside.
Step 5 – With a spatula or whatever feels comfortable, spread the cinnamon mixture in a reasonably even layer over the top of the dough, leaving about 1/4 inch clear around the edges. Starting at a long side, roll the dough away from you into a tightly formed roll. Slice the roll in cross-section into twelve equal pieces, each about 1 inch thick. Place each roll in the well of the prepared muffin tin.
Step 6 – Place the tin in the center of the preheated oven, and bake for about 25 minutes, or until the rolls are turning golden brown and the filling is bubbling out.
Step 7 – Remove from the oven and cool until the rolls are firm enough to handle, and transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling. Be sure to remove the rolls from the muffin tin before they are completely cool, or they will begin to stick to the baking pan.
Step 8 – While the rolls are cooling, make the icing (optional). In a separate small bowl, mix together whatever icing you prefer and then drizzle or spread the icing on the rolls before serving.

These are equally good with or without the extra hit of sugar from the icing. Enjoy!

Gluten free cinnamon bun

21 thoughts on “Best Ever Cinnamon Buns (which happen to be gluten-free)

  1. Wow – those are nice looking cinnamon buns! I’m sure they were super tasty, especially with the extra cinnamon! I like your choice of flours. Sorghum and almond meal are more nutrient dense than the traditional rice flours we so often see in gluten-free baking. You have 2 very talented sons. 🙂

    1. Thanks Angela, I’ll be sure to pass along your nice words! I totally agree about the flours. I know that these are still a very indulgent treat, but at least including the most nutritious flours that we can makes me feel better 🙂

  2. Kudos and thanks to your boy! These look and sound fabulous. I’m going to have to get hold of some sorghum flour!!

    1. Thank you – he’ll love to hear that! For a treat, I really think these are right up there. I love, love sorghum flour – it definitely made the GF transition much better! 🙂

  3. Oh. My. Goodness. Those look amazing, and not just because I haven’t had breakfast yet :). I bet those don’t kick around on the counter for very long. How wonderful to have a teen who is such a proficient baker, lucky you. Did you say TWO jobs? Busy boy.

    1. Thank you! Oh, it’s dangerous looking at stuff like this before breakfast, isn’t it! They disappear very quickly and the baker himself usually gets the last one, as well he should.

      Two jobs, you’ll appreciate this. The library where he works got government funding for a tech tutor position (for a fixed period of time this winter/spring), which is right up his alley. He’s always fixing the scanner, sorting out something on their website or providing tech advice, so his boss strongly encouraged him to apply. He loves it and it fits so well with the changing mandate of libraries, that I know you feel strongly about. I’m hoping they will find a way to continue offering a service which has been so popular. On my part, I was amazed to learn how many people own tablets and other devices that they don’t actually know how to set up and use! He’s helped countless people with those kinds of requests, and many more besides.

      1. That is terrific. I love when someone gets a job that is such a good fit for their skill set. In our system, we have volunteer tech buddies – a way for high school kids to get their volunteer hours needed for grad – for 6 weeks twice a year, volunteer teens meet with a senior each week to talk any kind of tech they want – email, mousing, ebooks, whatever. Teens are just really confident around this stuff, and some of them are very good at slowing it down for older, less elastic brains. I’m glad your boy gets paid to do this – way more rewarding!

        People get devices from well intentioned relatives. I would say 50% of the ereaders I help people learn to use were given to them by their offspring or their spouse, who wrapped it up, but failed to help load the app or software needed to download books. Back in the 80’s, my peers were prone to giving their parents VCRs, and then going off on a trip, leaving their poor parents to figure out how to programme the thing and make it record or play.

      2. The volunteer tech buddies sound like such a good idea, I really love that (though I don’t disagree that getting paid for similar work has its definite charms, particularly for a young person like my son who plans to make a career in technology). So sensible.

        I think I’ve been woefully underexposed to the phenomenon you describe; it’s so obvious, but I hadn’t thought of it. My own mother, while not technincal, has had a cellphone for more than a decade (while I still don’t have one) and is a whiz at programming tv programs for us to watch on our video player, as we don’t have television reception (by choice). I think we’re experiencing a mini inversion of what is wider trend and reality out there! Imagine giving someone a technical gift with no support – sheesh! Well, more power to libraries, I hope, as that’s a highly appropriate role.

  4. You know how to write a post. Begin and end with “money shots” and reel in the viewers. Those 2 photos, with the icing melting, will have mouths watering. Your Son really does look comfortable in the kitchen. Good for him! It’s a skill that he’ll appreciate more and more as time passes.

    1. Thank you John, that’s high praise and much appreciated! It means a lot to me to have raised a young man who can be so comfortable in the kitchen, and who knows what it means to express himself to others through food. I figure he’ll make a good ‘catch’, be that as a friend, partner or otherwise 🙂

  5. Oh YUM! That last photo is just perfect, with the beautiful bun positioned at just the right angle – aimed straight at my mouth. I am ABSOLUTELY making these. Huge congrats to your clever son squeezing in such impressive baking between working and studying. You must be a very proud mum.

    1. Ha! I love that Sas – I’ll have to try photographing more food at entry-based angles 🙂 I’d LOVE to know what you think when you give these a whirl, as would the young man (yes, I am very proud).

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