Everybody’s a dreamer. — John Lithgow
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!)
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.
Gluten-Free Caramel Pecan Rolls
(Adapted from a recipe on Manifest Vegan)
- 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
- 5 tablespoons softened margarine (dairy-free)
- ¼ cup packed brown sugar
- 4 teaspoons cinnamon
- ½ cup (1 stick) margarine (dairy-free)
- 1½ cups packed light-brown sugar
- 1 cups pecan or walnut pieces
- ¼ cup corn syrup
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!