This photo is from the 5th time I made these rolls. FIFTH. The first time I made them they came out so well I said, “This HAS to go on the blog”. But, of course, I didn’t have any pictures so I decided to just make them again because they were so yummy and so easy.
This is what I got the next three times. They still tasted great but they looked like hell. Couldn’t send you guys off with this. Especially not right before Thanksgiving which is when I was intending to get these on here. (I was intending to get a lot of stuff on here. I’ve done soooo much cooking these last couple weeks – amongst many other things – not so much blogging.) So anyway, now they are here for Christmas/Hanukkah! Is Hanukkah the one where you can’t use leavening or is that Passover??? Well, whichever one it is, this is your go-to bread recipe.
If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile you may have noticed I tend toward certain kinds of baked goods. I generally don’t put up recipes that don’t adapt to gluten free easily from the wheat-based original. I also generally don’t bother with stuff that is “a good enough substitute” but not the same. That’s why you won’t see a bread recipe up here. Yes, you can make gluten free bread. It’s good in it’s own way. But it’s not like wheat bread. It’s it’s own thing. Can you get used to it? Of course. But that’s not my goal here.
My goal is to make really, really, mind-blowingly awesome food. Food that everyone not just can eat but wants to eat, whether they are gluten free or not. I did Thanksgiving at my house last week for 24 – a little over half of whom could eat wheat. So my recipe choices had to be as good as or better than the more traditional dishes.
For the last few years I have not attempted gluten free dinner rolls for the holidays. I’ve done GF rolls a number of other times. At best they come out like biscuits. Which is fine if what you want is a biscuit. But a light, soft, poofy dinner roll? That’s the kind of thing that is very difficult to replicate without gluten. So I just haven’t bothered. I don’t want something that looks, tastes, and feels like a substitute.
Popovers to the rescue! I had never made these before but when I read about them a few months ago I thought they would work really well with gluten free flour and I was right. Now, if you can use wheat (and I realize I’ve probably already lost anyone who is not interested in doing this GF) go for it! They’re awesome either way.
That’s kind of the point.
Popovers start out as a thin batter. It’s actually very close in makeup to pancake batter – mostly milk and eggs. But there is no leavening in popovers. No baking powder, soda, or yeast. So how do they rise up out of the pan to great poofy heights, earning them their name??? The answer is STEAM.
You pour the batter into a hot muffin tin (or popover tin if you have one, I don’t) and place it in a very hot oven. The rapid change in temperature creates steam. The eggs in the batter stretch to accommodate the expansion of the hot gas, giving the popovers a strong, crusty outside and an almost hollow middle. The transformation is as dramatic as popcorn, which incidentally, pops for the very same reason.
They’re buttery and soft and they tear in your teeth like wheat rolls do. Enough yakkin. Let’s do this already.
First, I have to give a shout out to Michael Ruhlman’s book, Ratio. It has totally changed the way I cook. It’s kind of an “anti-recipe” book which lays out very plainly the ratios for all kinds of basic foods we make and eat everyday. If you know the ratio you never have to rely on a recipe again. It’s been very freeing for me. I’m a better cook because of it.
You will need two large eggs, milk, butter, salt, some All Purpose GF Flour Mix (or regular flour), and Xanthan Gum (only if using GF flour). That’s it.
First, stick an un-greased popover pan (if you have one, I don’t) or a muffin tin in the oven and preheat to 450 degrees. A popover pan will give you a more impressive poof but a muffin tin works too.
In a medium bowl whisk together two eggs, 1/2 tsp salt (a full teaspoon if using unsalted butter)…
…a cup of milk (8 oz by weight AND volume, just like water), 4 Tbsp of melted butter (not shown – this was part of the puzzle I had to figure out to make this work as you’ll see in a minute)…
…4 ounces of flour (GF or regular), and a teaspoon of Xanthan Gum, if using. If you don’t own a scale, 4 ounces of wheat flour is a scant cup. Gluten free flour mix weights depend on their composition. Mine is pretty close to wheat flour…but seriously…just buy the scale. It makes life in the kitchen so much easier.
Okay, you see those pats of butter? Don’t do that. I repeat – DO NOT BUTTER YOUR MUFFIN TIN. This is why my popovers refused to pop. The globs of butter that the recipe TOLD ME to use were what was inhibiting the rise. If these were glutenous they probably would have been just fine but GF popovers only work if the butter is added with the rest of the ingredients. The first time I did these – the time they came out so well? I forgot, I made “the mistake” of not doing this step. Live and learn.
So anyway – this part happens quickly. Using an oven mitt, get your popover pan/muffin tin out of the oven. Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, divvy up the batter between 9 of the very hot muffin tins. You want to work quickly and carefully.
And here they are right out of the oven! It’s important that you wait a few minutes before getting them out of the pan. Trust me on this one. A few minutes makes the difference between rolls that are sticking to the pan and tearing apart and rolls that actually come out in one piece and look nice.
I’m not real good at following my own advice :p I did tear this one in half just so you could see the light, airy texture inside. Mmmm. They’re light and yet rich – they don’t even need butter. But they would be so lovely with jam or honey.
There, I waited. Actually I didn’t. That was just the last one we pulled out.
8 oz (1 cup) milk
4 Tbsp butter, melted
2 large eggs
4 oz All Purpose Gluten Free Flour Blend (or a scant cup regular flour)
1 tsp Xanthan Gum (if using GF flour)
1/2 tsp salt
Put an un-greased muffin tin in the oven and preheat to 450 degrees.
In a medium mixing bowl whisk together all ingredients.
Remove muffin tin from oven. Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, divide batter between 9 of the 12 muffin cups and put in oven. Work quickly and carefully.
After 10 minutes, turn the heat down to 375 degrees. Bake for another 20-25 minutes.
Let popovers rest 10 minutes before removing from pan.
Serve with jam and/or honey.
Makes 9 popovers but can easily be doubled or tripled.