Outdoor Skills + Advice: Backcountry Baking – Gluten Free Cinnamon Rolls
By Contributing Writer Aparna Rajagopal-Durbin, faculty member and Diversity & Inclusion Manager at the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS)
I can make a mean tikka masala in my own kitchen, but I’m a hack at backcountry cooking. Thankfully, I have my colleague, backcountry baking genius Kelly Sherwin to turn to for some tips. But despite differences in baking prowess, Kelly and I do have something in common. “Picture this scene,” Kelly says. “You emerge from your sleeping bag on a chilly morning and can think of no better breakfast than a concoction of butter, flour, and sugar—something piping hot and capable of fueling me for a long day.” There’s just one problem: We don’t like gluten and it doesn’t like us back.
Gluten intolerance can be tricky in the backcountry, where your expedition mates might cringe at the very mention of garbanzo bean flour or xanthan gum. The solution? “A delicious decoy for your run-of-the mill cinnamon roll,” says Kelly, “in which I avoid the gluten gauntlet yet treat my backcountry buddies to a meal that’s genuinely delicious.”
Ingredients (16 rolls):
• ¾ cup milk or ¾ cup water + 2 Tbsp powdered milk
• ½ cup sugar
• 1 stick butter
• 1 ½ tsp salt
• 1/3 cup warm water
• 4 ½ tsp (2 packets) yeast
• 3 eggs (or 2 Tbsp powdered egg)
• 5 cup Bob’s Red Mill GF All-Purpose Baking Flour
• 2 tsp xanthan gum
• ½ stick butter, melted
• ¾ cup brown sugar
• 3 Tbsp cinnamon
• ¾ cup confectioners’ sugar
• 2 Tbsp milk or 2Tbsp water + 1 tsp powdered milk
• 1 tsp vanilla
1. Heat milk until bubbles form around edges of pot; remove from heat and stir in sugar, butter, and salt; set aside.
2. Combine warm water and yeast; let stand until the mixture bubbles actively.
3. Stir together yeast mixture, lukewarm milk mixture and eggs. Add flour and xanthan. Mix well and form dough into a ball. Add more flour if needed to make the dough soft and smooth but only a little tacky.
4. Shape out dough to form a rectangle (shape between two large plastic bags so it doesn’t stick to your hands).
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5. Brush dough with melted butter. Sprinkle on brown sugar and cinnamon.
6. Start from one long side and roll up dough. Slice roll into 16 sections (dental floss is great for this).
7. Place rolls in greased skillet, cover with lid and set in a warm draft-free location to rise for at least one hour.
8. Bake rolls using a baking hood or twiggy fire (or 350 degrees in a front country oven) for 25-30 minutes.
9. To make glaze: Mix together the confectioners’ sugar, milk, and vanilla. Drizzle over rolls once they’re cool.