Gluten-Free Caramel Pecan Rolls

Everybody’s a dreamer. — John Lithgow

Gluten-free Caramel Pecan Rolls are a great way to start a day.

About six months ago I re-read the book Quantum Wellness where the author, Kathy Freston, challenges her readers to do a 21-day cleanse diet, including giving up things like meat, dairy, and eggs. Those are no brainers for vegans like me. But I do like a little bit of a challenge so I continued reading and discovered that her list of exclusions also included alcohol. Although I do occasionally imbibe in a drink or two, it’s really not much of a stretch to abstain for 21 days. (I wish I could say that about chocolate).

The real problems on the Quantum Wellness Cleanse was giving up gluten and sugar. In fact, I attempted and did not succeed at giving up sugar. Just look at my site – I think it’s easy to say I have a bit of a sweet tooth! So I decided to really focus on giving up gluten for my 21 day cleanse. I trucked on up to the grocery store and bought myself some rice cakes and gluten-free flour and away I went on my 21-day gluten free escapade!

Little did I know how much this would impact my life. The thing is, within a few days I noticed something was missing. No, it wasn’t my energy, it was this nagging pain I’ve always had in my gut. I promise not to go into all the details, but suffice it to say that most of my adult life I have dealt with stomach problems. Giving up dairy as part of my vegan journey helped tremendously, but I still had some persistent issues. Giving up gluten – even just for those 21 days – gave me relief.

Come to find out gluten intolerance is really a spectrum kind of disorder. Some people are diagnosed with Celiac disease and they cannot consume any gluten at all. Others, like me, should try to avoid gluten but may be able to tolerate it in small amounts. As the days have worn on, I eat it only very infrequently – usually when I’ve made some incredible looking glutenous cake for my family (who are not sensitive to gluten) and I feel like I need at least a bite to taste the final product.

The thing is, more and more people are being diagnosed on the spectrum of gluten intolerance. It’s one of the fastest growing segments in the food industry. So imagine my surprise when I sauntered into my local Panera Bread cafe to meet a friend for breakfast and not one item was gluten-free. Mounds and mounds of bread and not a bite to eat. What’s a gluten-free girl to do? Plot a dream, that’s what!

Together with Allyson of Manifest Vegan, we developed the foundation of what we call, Our Panera’s Gluten-Free Dream Day and we invited some of our favorite food blogging friends to join us in creating gluten-free recipes like you might find on a Panera Bread Bar menu. We’re featuring lots of gluten-free goodies like Caramel Pecan Rolls, Jalapeno Cheddar Bagels, Apple Crunch Muffins, Orange Scones, Blueberry Muffins, Spinach and Artichoke Souffle, Chocolate Chunk Muffins, Cinnamon Crumb Cake, and Pumpkin Muffins.

My task was to create the Gluten-Free Caramel Pecan Rolls. It was a tough job, but someone had to do it.

I made some pecan rolls sans topping because, you know, not everyone can handle all that sticky-sweet sugar! (I don’t count myself in that category!)

Gluten-Free Pecan Rolls could be the next entry on the Panera Bread menu!

I forced myself to try one of each. Both have flavors of endearment that make them worth going back for another…and another…and another!

I was left with a little extra caramel topping which also makes a nice addition to Easy Vegan Ice Cream.

Some day I’d like to imagine meeting a friend at Panera Bread and selecting a nice gluten-free bagel or maybe even a gluten-free caramel pecan roll. It may take awhile, but hey, a girl’s gotta dream! Like John Lithgow says, “Everybody’s a dreamer.” So I hope you join us in our dream by checking out the other Gluten-Free Dream Day recipes.

Our Panera's Gluten-Free Dream Day features Caramel Pecan Rolls by Namely Marly!

Gluten-Free Caramel Pecan Rolls

(Adapted from a recipe on Manifest Vegan)

Ingredients:

  • ⅓ cup warmed soy milk
  • 1 package dry active yeast
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large banana, mashed
  • ½ cup brown rice flour
  • ½ cup buckwheat flour
  • ½ cup white rice flour
  • ½ cup potato starch, (or corn starch)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 ½ teaspoons xanthan gum
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt

Filling

  • 5 tablespoons softened margarine (dairy-free)
  • ¼ cup packed brown sugar
  • 4 teaspoons cinnamon

Topping

  • ½ cup (1 stick) margarine (dairy-free)
  • 1½ cups packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 cups pecan or walnut pieces
  • ¼ cup corn syrup

Directions:

Mix the yeast with the barely warm soy milk. Let it sit 5 – 10 minutes, until the mixture gets all bubbly. Add the granulated sugar, olive oil, vanilla and mashed banana. In case you’re wondering, the banana serves as an egg replacement in this recipe.

In a separate bowl combine the dry ingredients and stir until well combined. Take your time adding the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, stirring throughout. You should see a very sticky dough form. Continue stirring to allow the mixture to combine. You can use an electric mixer here, but I like the nice arm workout I get from stirring it vigorously by hand.

Next, make your topping by spraying muffin tins with vegetable spray. In a small sauce pan , melt margarine over medium heat and then add brown sugar, corn syrup and  pecan or walnut pieces. Cook over medium heat 5 – 10 minutes, or until sugar is dissolved. Pour equal amounts of the topping mixture among muffin cups, unless you’re like me and like to have some sans topping. In that case, reserve some of that topping goodness for later.

For this next part I’m going to quote directly from Allyson’s recipe because it’s complete perfection and impossible to improve upon. I used her tip for rolling out the dough and it worked like a charm!

Tape down a 20″ strip of Saran Wrap and turn dough ball out onto it. Cover with another piece of Saran Wrap and roll dough out until you have achieved about a 12 x 16″ rectangle of dough. The thinner the better, but don’t go too thin. Gently spread the  softened margarine in an even layer on top of dough, and then sprinkle with cinnamon/sugar filling mix. Starting with the shortest side, roll the dough up using the Saran Wrap like a magical guide. Try your best to keep the dough taught and the Saran Wrap from getting embedded in the dough. Gravity is a nice touch with this method too… it kinda rolls itself up.

Next, use a sharp, serrated knife to slice the rolls 1 – 1.5 inches in size and place them in your prepared muffin pans. Cover the muffin tins with a slightly damp cloth and place in a warm place to rise for about an hour. I like to heat my oven to its lowest setting while I’m preparing the other ingredients and then I turn the oven off and place the rolls in the warm oven to rise. But, of course, any warm place will do. If you follow that advice, then once the rolls are adequately risen, remove them from the oven, and turn up the heat to 350F. Once the oven is at the right temperature, bake for 30 minutes until the rolls are golden brown.  You’ll want to immediately invert the rolls onto a a rack to cool. Be very careful not to touch the rolls because the sugar will be very hot at this point. Let the rolls cool and then enjoy all the gluten-free goodness!

Posted 3 years ago by Marly on Thursday, June 30th, 2011 · Permalink

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18 Responses to Gluten-Free Caramel Pecan Rolls

  1. Marly these look amazing! Like you I went on a 21-day cleanse and it really changed my life. The things I used to put in my body I have come to realize is what made me feel not myself. On my cleanse sugar was also placed on the moderation list, but I still have a mean sweet tooth. Ha! I like to think it’s ok in small doses. :)
    Thank you for letting me apart of this special Gluten-Free Dream Day!

  2. Oh my goooosh I am actually apeechless. You have really outdone yourself Marly! Thanks again for putting together such a great challenge. I have learned so much about GF baking in just a month’s time. panera would be crazy not to feature your recipe!! Im sure it would sell out :)

  3. These look totally irresistible–and I’m not even a cinnamon roll fan! Gorgeous, sticky, cinnamony, YUM. This was such a fun challenge and I am so delighted with all the entries I’ve seen! Thanks so much for dreaming it up and for allowing me to take part! :D

  4. Wow, this looks great! I can imagine eating two and having to forcibly remove myself from the rest.

  5. What a great idea! Panera was one of my first jobs in high school… I used to love getting to take home all those mazing goodies at the end of the day. I also started having a lot of stomach problems around this time and gained about 10 pounds… Oops! I learned the hard way that Panera is not as wholesome as they pretend to be. That being said, they do have some tasty things. I look forward to trying out some of these revamped recipes!

  6. Yum! These look like perfect sticky deliciousness!! So very good!! It’s been so much fun checking out everyone’s posts today, thank you once again for all your great work putting this together and having Veggie num num along for the ride!!

  7. Marly, these came out fabulous! Though I have not entirely given up gluten (limit it though) I have given up sugar. Very freeing and life changing for me. Love that we are all in Dream Day together :)

  8. I found out about your even through ricki’s blog and think it is a great idea. Your pecan scrolls look amazing. I’m a big fan of gf baking with buckwheat flour.

    I’ve never heard of panera bakeries but we have a big chain of bakeries in Australia (bakers delight) where my sister goes – she and her daughter are celiac but her other two daughters aren’t. They were told by their local bakers delight bakery that they had tried making gluten free products and a little girl with celiacs disease had had a terrible reaction because there is the cross contamination with all the gluten products about (thought I think they had been careful) and so they had stopped making gf products because it was too risky. Just thought this might be why panera don’t do gf products?

  9. StarvingFox

    Hi Marly,
    My friend sent me a link to this recipe. Like you, I am sensitive to gluten and dairy. I cut out gluten first and then dairy and my whole system is so much more in balance! Amazing, right?!! Rock on! Thanks for the recipe- this reminds me of my Mom’s sticky buns from when I was a kid! :)

  10. you are such a champion of cause Marly . . . one of the things i love most about you!! these look KILL-er!!!

  11. Those look incredible! I haven’t had cinnamon buns in such a long time- I might just have to try making these.

  12. Holy moly! I love this panera event! I’ve been gluten-free for a couple of years and love coming up with new ways to make regular baked goods into something I can have, too! I’ve been thinking of attempting cinnamon buns. Thanks for showing me it is possible. Gosh, these look amazing.

  13. Wow! What a success story! Congratulations on discovering your gluten intolerance!

    I used to cheat on my gluten-free diet about once a month. Then I stuck to it without cheating and my nerve pain that I had been suffering with for 1.5 years improved tremendously! Recently I was watching the “Gluten Sensitivity & Celiac Forum (2009 version) and heard that cheating once a month will increase your mortality rate by 600%. Scary! I’ll never cheat again, well not intentionally!

    I have a bit of sweet tooth myself. I recently discovered a great, natural sugar-free alternative, xylitol. It’s great for your teeth and body. Unlike stevia and sugar alcohols, it can be slowly introduced into your diet without causing bloating, like the others.

    Great recipe! Knock those bakery’s socks off – and keep up your fantastic work!

  14. Hi Marly! I have so many friends who can’t tolerate gluten. I’m really excited to see this recipe! And I’m also happy that you found some relief for your stomach issues. Thanks for sharing, sweet friend. I hope you are having a wonderful weekend, and I wish you a very happy 4th!

  15. These are my grandma’s favorite dessert. She hasn’t made them since she’s went into the nursing home, so I’m going to make these for her when I see her this week. And since they’re gluten-free, I can enjoy them too. Happy 4th of July!

  16. Love this recipe and love your blog!!!! I just came across it and it’s fabulous. Loving your posts and this fabulous gluten-free treat!

  17. I used only half the topping, that was plenty, and they still “boiled over” and got all over the oven. I did not bake them nearly as long as suggested only 22 minutes. They were good though. I guess I would put them in a cake pan instead of muffin tins next time because of the mess in the oven. Mine looked a lot like the picture which, was beautiful but is a little more done than I like them. It made a dozen rolls.

    • That topping is so good, it’s not bad to have some of it on hand. I’ve even sprinkled it over ice cream before. Thanks for sharing how you adapted the recipe to work best for you. I think that’s so helpful to others. Having a mess in the oven is never any fun. Sometimes I’ll put a pan down underneath the pan that’s baking if I’m worried about a mess or even, as you suggest, baking them in a cake pan would work too. So glad you enjoyed the rolls!

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