BRAZILIAN CHEESE ROLLS: Gluten-Free, Chewy, & Oh So Good!

brazilian rolls10 textBrazilian Cheese Rolls – where have these been all my life?!  Crusty outside, stretchy inside. An added bonus for those of you who have a problem with gluten: they’re gluten-free!

I recently watched an America’s Test Kitchen episode that featured these yummy rolls. The gluten-free aspect caught my attention. Even though I’m not gluten-free myself, I like to expand my horizons and post recipes for people with a variety of needs.

Note: It can be a little tricky to find the tapioca flour (also called tapioca starch). It, most likely, will be found in the area where the alternative flours in small bags are kept. I was only able to find Bob’s Red Mill brand in my area.

Note: Weighing flour is always the best way to go – especially with tapioca flour. It’s very powdery (like cornstarch), and using a measuring cup will give you vastly different amounts, which may make a difference.

Note: If you like, you can try different cheeses.

BRAZILIAN CHEESE ROLLS – makes 8  3″ rolls

  • 12 oz (about 3 cups) tapioca flour
  • 2 tsp kosher salt (or 1 tsp of table salt)
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 2/3 cup + 2 T milk (175 ml)  (I used 1% milk)
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) olive oil (you can use vegetable oil, too)
  • 1½ T butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 3½ oz (1¼ cups or 50 grams) Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 3½ oz (1¼ cups or 50 grams) Pecorino-Romano cheese, grated
  • optional:  egg wash – 1 egg + 1 T water + pinch of salt), beaten together

In the large bowl of your electric mixer (if you don’t have an electric mixer, just use a large bowl and mix by hand), put the tapioca flour, salt, and baking powder. Gently swirl together to blend. brazilian rolls1Put the milk, olive oil, and butter in a small saucepan. Over a low/medium flame, bring just to a boil, stirring constantly. Immediately pour into the flour.brazilian rolls2 Turn the mixer on low and beat until all the flour is incorporated – about 1-2 minutes. (It will look rough and crumbly.) brazilian rolls3Add in the eggs and mix on low speed. Once it looks creamy (like frosting), continue to beat another minute.brazilian rolls4 Add in the cheeses, and mix just to blend on low. brazilian rolls5Scrap down the dough and smooth top. Cover bowl and refrigerate at least 2 hours – this will firm up the dough, making it easier to work with. brazilian rolls6

Preheat oven to 450º Fahrenheit, rack in the middle position. (Don’t short-change the temperature.)

If using an egg wash, beat together 1 egg with 1 T water and a pinch of salt. I highly recommend using an egg wash – it gives the rolls an appetizing sheen.

Score the dough into 8 even wedges. brazilian rolls7Using a large spoon, scrap out each wedge and roll into a smooth ball (it helps to have one of your hands wet so the dough doesn’t stick). Place each ball on a parchment lined baking sheet. They’re going to rise as they bake, so make sure to space them. One large sheet will hold all 8 rolls.brazilian rolls8 Using a pastry brush, paint the sides and tops of rolls with the egg wash. brazilian rolls9I’m going to use all caps because this is important!: PLACE SHEET IN OVEN, THEN IMMDEDIATELY LOWER TEMPERATURE TO 375º F. (The initial high heat is important to give the rolls a spring, but you need to lower it so they don’t burn.) Bake for about 40 minutes (yes, this is a long time). Remove to wire rack to cool enough to handle – about 5 minutes before eating.brazilian rolls12

GLUTEN-FREE CRACKERS: So Easy, So Good!

crackers textI’ve been a from-scratch cook for as long as I can remember, pushing the boundaries over the years as to what I would make and what I would buy. (Puff pastry and filo dough are still on my “never in a million years” list.)

While I whip up homemade tortillas, pasta, yogurt, and pie crusts without a thought, it never occurred to me to make crackers. I don’t even buy them unless we have company. But then I came across an America’s Test Kitchen recipe for paleo crackers and I was intrigued.

Of course, I tried them. Not only were they easy, but very tasty. The only issue I had was rolling them evenly since they’re so thin. I ended up buying rolling pin rings (they’re rubber bands) that fit on either side of the pin, allowing for a consistent depth. I used the 1/16″ size.

NOTE: It’s really best to weigh flours to get an accurate dough consistency.

GLUTEN-FREE CRACKERS

  • 2¼ oz (3/4 cup) almond flour
  • 1/2 oz (2 T) coconut flour
  • 1/2 oz (2 T) arrowroot flour (or arrowroot powder found in the spice section)
  • 1½ tsp sesame seeds, toasted, divided
  • 1½ tsp fennel seeds, toasted, divided
  • 1½ tsp poppy seeds, divided
  • 1/2 tsp salt, divided
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp onion powder
  • 2½ T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1½ egg whites, divided
  • 1 T water

Preheat oven to 375º Fahrenheit.

Toast sesame and fennel seeds in a toasteroven or dry skillet. (You don’t need to toast poppy seeds.) Watch carefully – they can burn quickly. (Toasting brings out their flavor.)

Into a small bowl combine the 1/2 tsp sesame seeds, 1/2 tsp fennel seeds, 1/2 tsp poppy seeds, and 1/4 tsp salt. Set aside.cracker2Into a bowl combine the almond flour, coconut flour, arrowroot flour, remaining 1 tsp sesame seeds1 tsp fennel seeds1 tsp poppy seeds, 1/4 tsp salt, pepper, and onion powder.cracker3 In another small bowl whisk 1 egg white to break it up. Then whisk in the olive oil and the 1 T water. cracker1Pour egg white mix into the flour mixture and blend together with a spoon, until all flour is incorporated.cracker7 Lay out a sheet of parchment paper (NOT waxed paper). Place the dough in the middle and form it into a square with your hands – this will help the dough roll into a rectangular shape.cracker11 Cover with waxed paper (or parchment). Roll out the dough to a 12″x10″ rectangle – or as close as you can get. Mine was nowhere near that – it really doesn’t matter. The dough should be of even thickness – 1/16th inch. The bands really helped with that.cracker13 Carefully remove waxed paper and set it aside. cracker6Beat the remaining 1/2 egg white and generously brush entire top of dough. You won’t need all of the white so you can put the leftover in a small container and freeze it for next time (waste not, want not).cracker10 Sprinkle on the seed blend you set aside. Cover with the waxed paper and gently run your hand over top to press in the seeds. (Without the waxed paper the seeds will stick to your hand.) Remove and discard waxed paper. Lightly score top with a dull knife to desired shapes. cracker5Slide parchment onto a rimless baking sheet (I prefer silver colored). Bake at 375º F for 14-18 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking time to promote even baking, until lightly browned. The edges always turned darker for me.cracker4Slide parchment onto wire rack to cool completely. Break apart crackers at scored lines.

GLUTEN-FREE CRACKERS go great with hummus. Here’s my super-easy recipe: HUMMUS