Rolls, even gluten-free rolls, can be delightfully easy if you have one simple tool. A muffin tin. This humble tin, when paired with your favorite yeast dough instead of a quick rising batter, will yield gorgeous rolls with gorgeous crusts if you overlook its muffin-y appearance. I had eaten one too many jowar roti, or sorghum tortillas, when I decided to experiment more with flax seed as an egg substitute and make myself some tasty yeast onion rolls. I was initially not impressed with flax gel in early experiments, but my recent love affair with Isa Moskowitz’s recipe for vegan and gluten-free buckwheat pancakes convinced me that I needed to give flax seed a second chance. After all, Ener-g Egg Replacer works reasonably well in many recipes, but it can produce gummy products if you’re not careful. I was disappointed with using flax seeds as an egg substitute in Chebe tapioca bread mix, but I think that is because the low-protein tapioca starch requires a high protein ingredient to work as a bread. Flax seed is interesting, healthy stuff, rich in omega-3 fatty acids and high in fiber. Those of you on a gluten-free diet who don’t eat oatmeal will be happy to know that two tablespoons of flax seed meal contains four grams of fiber. This is the same amount of fiber as 1 and 1/2 cups of cooked oatmeal, and similarly to oatmeal, it is reported to help decrease harmful LDL cholesterol drop without lowering good HDL cholesterol. Why haven’t I been eating more of this stuff already? Maybe because until this recipe, I hadn’t found a good way to use it!
These rolls rose beautifully and became quite gorgeous when they baked. You can eat them fresh out of the oven, tearing them open with a fork tin and slathering them with (non-dairy, soy-free) margarine or drizzling them with high quality olive oil, but their texture is best after they cool. They are also wonderful the next day after a quick stint in the microwave. My DH who mourns the current absence of rice in our diet (and my old white rice flour-tapioca starch french bread) gobbled these rolls up and looked for more. I didn’t tell him how healthy these whole grain, high fiber rolls were! I made my version with arrowroot starch, but you could easily make them with tapioca starch and they would undoubtedly be great. The flax seed gel really enhanced the texture of these rolls and made them very strong but with a soft, rippable center. I don’t think I would use flax seed in a delicate or sweet flavored recipe (unless it was nutty or well-spiced), but in this savory onion bread, it worked perfectly. I can’t wait to make this recipe again!
Gluten Free Vegan Sorghum Onion Rolls
2 cup sorghum flour
1 cup tapioca flour (or, for a more delicate bread, arrowroot starch)
1 tbsp. xanthan gum
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. egg replacer (optional)
2 tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 cup lukewarm water
2 tbsp. yeast
2 tbsp. olive oil
3 tbsp ground flax seed + 3/4 cup water
1 tsp. vinegar (i use cider)
1 or 2 tbsp. melted Soy-free dairy-free earth balance margarine
Grease muffin tin with your favorite shortening. I use spectrum naturals palm oil shortening. Or, if making free-form rolls, line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 375F.
Combine flours, xanthan gum, salt and egg replacer (if using) in the bowl of a standing mixer. Place sugar in a small bowl and add your lukewarm water, whisking to combine. Add your yeast and stir in gently. Let sit for a few minutes while yeast activates and forms brownish clumps. Combine flax seed and water in a food processor or blender and blend until you have a thick and creamy consistency. Add your oil and vinegar to the proofed yeast water and add to the flours, along with the flax liquid. Beat using the paddle for 3 minutes.
For muffins, fill half-full with batter. For free-form rolls, take a large spoonful of dough and shape it into a soft round with WET hands. Run your hands under the water in-between rolls as needed. Place on the parchment paper, leaving plenty of room between them. To season, baste the top of the rolls with onion margarine, making sure you get actual bits of onion on the roll, and sprinkle with kosher salt.
Let rise for 50 minutes or until doubled in size. Bake for 30 minutes or until rolls are browned and sound hollow when you tap them.
Texture is best after they cool. The next day, a brief reheating in the microwave oven makes for a perfect, fresh tasting and hot roll!