Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Yeast Free Date Rolls

My grandpa and I shared a love of many things - Jeopardy!, golf, jazz music and big black cats among them. Weekends with Grandma and Grandpa always shared a few stolen moments driving or power walking, always deep in conversation. He knew how much I loved learning (as much as he did!) and loved to fill my head with all sorts of knowledge, from seemingly inane trivia (which will come in great handy should I ever go on Jeopardy!) to household maintenance tips, health news and musical lore. 

When it came around to snack time, the two of us would never be happier than when we discovered a package of Fig Newtons in the pantry or "just happened to" come home with a box of date squares. The tender, oat-packed crust and crumbly topping of those squares was just sturdy enough to hold up to the insanely thick layer of sweet date puree, and while the bakery that made our favourite treat has since shut down (and I doubt they ever had a website), the resulting bars resembled these ones almost to a T. The two of us were really the only ones who shared a deep passion for the dessert, which was all the better for us back then - a pan would last us the whole weekend, plus a few extra pieces for me to pack along for school the next week. Today, I'm the only one in the family who still adores dates in any and every form, and while I do have my great aunt's recipe, making it just doesn't hold the same allure.

Yeast Free Date Rolls

Luckily, I have a great group of friends and colleagues with adventurous palates, and when one of them (who happens to be keeping gluten free for eczema issues) mentioned her yen for "jam rolls" (essentially cinnamon rolls with a fruit paste or butter as the swirl) near the end of the term, I decided to try out the idea using some homemade date paste I had in the freezer. I've mentioned before that I don't tend to buy eggs, unless it's for a Home Ec class, simply because I can't eat them - besides, with all the substitutes I have available to me at home (from chia and flax seed to bananas, tofu and even Homemade Egg Replacer) buying a dozen for just one or two seems like a waste. This time, though, I took a leaf out of Cupcake Project's book for my substitution and tried an unlikely candidate - mayonnaise. Specifically, an all-natural, egg-free mayonnaise that I had bought near the end of the year for my SK-Grade 1 "transition" class and was sitting in my fridge being ignored by the "normal eaters" at home (I can't handle the fat in any type of mayo, otherwise I'd be making tomato sammies!). Unlikely as it may be, the mayonnaise swap worked wonders in the dough - keeping it moist and supple (a rarity for most GF bread!) with a tiny bit of buttermilky tang. I didn't want to bother messing around with yeast this time around, but the "biscuit" type of dough was perfect for the filling and allowed me to tweak the ingredients so that no refined sugar was used, allowing the molasses-y notes of the raw sugar play in concert with the 100% fruit filling.

Fresh out of the oven that afternoon, and even right before bed, these rolls were perfectly moist without any hint of crumbliness. The next day (after a stint in the fridge) they were beginning to dry out, but by whipping up a honey-butter glaze and brushing it on before reheating and serving them any hint of "aging" disappeared. Simply put, if you love date squares, cinnamon buns or any combination of the two, you've got to try these - you won't be disappointed!

Shared with Gluten Free Fridays

Yeast Free Date Rolls
Makes 24
2 cups sorghum flour
2 cups millet flour
½ cup tapioca starch
½ cup psyllium husk powder
¼ cup ground flaxseed
2 tsp guar gum
¼ cup raw sugar
½ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 ½ cups half and half
1 cup egg-free mayonnaise (use regular if you don't have egg issues!)
⅔ cup warm water

2 cups date paste (from ~ 1 lb pitted "cooking" dates)
Cinnamon, to sprinkle

1 tbsp raw sugar, for topping
  1. Preheat your oven to 425F and grease a 9x13” pan.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together the flours, starch, psyllium, flax, guar, sugar, nutmeg, salt, baking powder and baking soda.
  3. In a liquid measuring cup, whisk together the half and half, mayonnaise and water.
  4. Pour over the dry ingredients and mix until well combined.
  5. Cover loosely and let rest 30 minutes.
  6. Roll out ⅓ of the dough between sheets of waxed paper to a wide rectangle and spread evenly with the date paste (leaving a 1” border on one long side). Sprinkle with cinnamon.
  7. Carefully roll the dough up, starting with the filled long side. Pinch along the seam to seal.
  8. With a sharp, serrated knife, slice roll into 8 pieces.
  9. Place, cut side up, in the prepared pan, sprinkle with sugar and spray with oil.
  10. Repeat with remaining dough and date paste.
  11. Bake for 25-27 minutes, until golden brown.
*Note: If storing longer than a day, I highly suggest making a warm honey- or maple syrup-butter glaze to pour over the hot rolls and keep them from drying out. If freezing, glaze them once thawed and reheat gently in a 300F oven to soften and soak.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 213.7
Total Fat: 5.3 g
Cholesterol: 6.1 mg
Sodium: 143.3 mg
Total Carbs: 39.8 g
Dietary Fiber: 6.3 g
Protein: 3.9 g  

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