The “2 ingredient” bread dough made famous by Weight Watchers is a shortcut way to make easy gluten free cinnamon rolls that taste like the yeasted kind and make any morning special.
Gluten free breakfast on the go
I have a long-abiding love for gluten free breakfast ideas, especially ones that you can grab and take on the go. But I've been stocking my freezer for busy mornings for so long that I had begun to take it for granted and not think it was anything special. Until recently…
This past holiday season, my family and I spent a beautiful week at an all-inclusive Caribbean resort. We knew ahead of time that they were able to accommodate my gluten free son's diet.
We weren't prepared for how limited his options would be—and how poor the quality would be. I guess we should have just been grateful that they could feed him safely at all.
But I had thought we were beyond that. He struggled quite a bit with watching everyone else eat at least a variety—including baked goods for every meal.
I guess I was reminded all over again that our gluten free food should be at least as good as the conventional food, if not better. And variety is also really important, because it makes you feel cared for and nourished.
I'm grateful to be able to do that for my son, and hopeful that the rest of the world will catch up so when he leaves the nest, he always feels “normal.”
How to make these cinnamon rolls sugar-free
The dough for these 30-minute gluten free cinnamon rolls is based upon the “2 ingredient” Weight Watchers bread dough, the one we first used to make gluten free bagels. It's referred to as “2 ingredient” dough because the original recipe is made with self-rising all purpose flour and plain nonfat Greek-style yogurt.
The tang of the plain yogurt mimics the flavor of yeast development at a fraction of the bother and time of yeasted rolls. The Greek-style yogurt also has the perfect moisture balance to create a soft dough that still holds its shape.
This recipe is not designed to be quite as WW-friendly, since it has added flour to make the dough stiffer, and, more importantly, a brown sugar and cinnamon filling. But you can most definitely make these cinnamon rolls with a sugar replacement.
My favorite granulated sugar replacement is Lankato monk fruit granulated sugar replacement, and I think it would work beautifully here. You don't really need to bother with a brown sugar replacement, as the cinnamon is the dominant flavor here in the filling.
Use a light touch to shape
When making this bread dough, as when making any gluten free bread dough at all, it's best to have a light touch especially when adding additional flour for shaping. It is a rather forgiving dough, but this particular recipe already has more flour than usual.
Whenever you add extra flour, you lower the hydration ratio of the dough, which can lead to tougher bread. That's especially true when you're making a fat-free bread dough like this one.
This dough works best when all of the ingredients, and therefore the dough, are quite cold. So you should find that you don't need a significant amount of additional flour to shape it.
Try sprinkling a very small amount of additional flour sparingly but widely, rubbing it between your thumb and forefinger as you move your hand over the dough.
Ingredients and substitutions
I haven’t tried this exact recipe with plain nondairy yogurt, such as So Delicious brand, but I have tried that substitution on our Weight Watchers Gluten Free bagel recipe and was successful. Please click through to that post for all the information I have about making these sort of recipes with nondairy (non-Greek-style) plain yogurt.
The full egg in this recipe adds richness and tenderness to the dough. If you can't have eggs, it can be replaced.
You can try replacing it with a “chia egg” (1 tablespoon ground white chia seeds + 1 tablespoon lukewarm water, mixed and allowed to gel). I would also replace 1 tablespoon of the Greek-style yogurt with 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter, though, to replace some of the richness of the egg white.
The cornstarch in the filling helps keep it from leaking out of the rolls during baking. You can easily replace it with an all purpose gluten free flour or any other sort of gluten free starch you can imagine.
The small amount of shortening that is spread in a thin layer over the top of the rectangle of dough is there to help the filling stick to the dough. The low moisture content of shortening helps prevent the filling from leaking out during baking. You can try replacing it with virgin coconut oil, but the filling does tend to leak more.
Please see the full discussion above about the brown sugar in the filling of these easy gluten free cinnamon rolls.
Easy Gluten Free Cinnamon Rolls | “2 Ingredient” Dough
For the rolls
1 1/4 cups (175 g) all purpose gluten free flour (I used Better Batter), plus more for sprinkling
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (245 g) nonfat Greek-stye plain yogurt, chilled
1 egg (50 g, weighed out of shell), beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Egg wash (1 egg + 1 tablespoon lukewarm water, beaten)
For the filling
1 tablespoon (12 g) nonhydrogenated vegetable shortening
1/4 cup (55 g) packed light brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon (9 g) cornstarch
Preheat your oven to 375°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper and set it aside.
To make the dough for the rolls, in a large mixing bowl, place the flour blend, xanthan gum, baking powder, and salt, and whisk to combine. Add the yogurt, egg, and vanilla, and mix until the dough begins to hold together. Knead the dough with clean hands to bring together fully. A shortcut way to do this is in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, but it’s not essential.
Turn the dough out onto a very lightly floured surface and knead it with clean hands until it’s a bit smoother. With a rolling pin, roll the dough into a 10-inch square, sprinkling lightly with flour as necessary, and moving the dough frequently to prevent it from sticking on either side.
Add the filling. Using a small offset spatula or butter knife, spread the shortening in an even layer thinly over the top of the dough, leaving 1/2-inch clean all around the perimeter of the square. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, and cornstarch, and sprinkle evenly on top of the shortening, also leaving the same clean border.
Starting at a one side of the square, roll the dough tightly into a coil, pressing it gently as you go. Using a piece of unwaxed dental floss or thread or a very sharp knife, cut the coil by cross-section into 6 equal pieces. Place each piece on the prepared baking sheet, about 1-inch apart. With well-floured fingers, apply even pressure to the top of each roll to compress each coil about 1/3 of the way down. Brush the tops and sides with the egg wash. If you’ve worked quickly, the rolls should still be cold to the touch. If not, place the baking sheet in the refrigerator to chill for about 10 minutes or until cold to the touch.
Remove the baking sheet with the rolls from the refrigerator and place in the center of the preheated oven. Bake for about 15 minutes or until the rolls are lightly golden brown on the edges and have swelled in size. Remove them from the oven and allow them to cool briefly before serving. Any leftover rolls can be cooled completely, frozen in a single layer on a baking sheet, and stored in the freezer. Refresh briefly in a microwave oven.
Thank you for being so thoughtful in your recipes. I know that you go through the extra steps to find out dairy-free and sugar-free versions of recipes, in addition to them being gluten free. I appreciate the extra pain in the neck that must be more than you could know! Sounds delicious. Will be sure to try it!
Nicole Hunn says
Thank you so much for that kind appreciation, Jenny! I realized years ago that no matter what I post, I will get many (many) questions about substitutions. So I started providing my best educated guesses ahead of time. Almost no one really seems to read them (except a few diligent people like you!), but at least I can respond to the questions by saying “Please see the ingredients and substitutions section.” ?
Hello. Can I bake these completely and then freeze them if needs be? I know you’ve mentioned part baking but I want to make these as a gift and don’t want to give them something part baked! X
Nicole Hunn says
Definitely, Molly! Just be sure they’re completely cooled and wrapped tightly before freezing.
The dough was so soft and sticky it was very hard to work with. It never seemed to become a manageable ball despite my kneading efforts. ??♀️
Nicole Hunn says
As you can see in the video, when made according to the recipe, the dough can be handled and shaped. The instructions do not call for kneading. You do need a light touch, and you must use one of my recommended flour blends, measure by weight, not make substitutions.
Hi nicole you say that you dont recommend Bob’s red mill flour would you recommend Doves farm flour ?
Nicole Hunn says
Hi, Christine, I’m afraid I’ve never tried Dove’s, since it’s not available in the U.S., but I know that their “plain” gluten free flour is very commonly used in the U.K. and readers seem to like it. Since I haven’t tried it myself, I can’t attest to whether or not it will work in all my recipes. If you don’t have any of my recommended blends available to you for purchase, you can always build one of the “mock” blends. I created those blends for people who can’t find my recommended brands for purchase.
I made these and was surprised that I wasn’t a huge fan of them as I am of all your other recipes. However, they were better than others I’ve had, just not as awesome as I was expecting. I used very little flour when rolling out, was careful not to over knead the dough and weight measured all my ingredients yet they seemed tough and chewy. Heating in the microwave helped. I’m in FL and our weather often affects pastry baking, so I’ll try again and see what happens.
Nicole Hunn says
That’s strange, Heather. I’m sorry you didn’t have a great experience. I wouldn’t describe these as tough at all, although they’re not exactly like yeasted rolls, as nothing but yeasted bread will have that same texture. Perhaps you’d prefer those? Here’s a link.
I think I just found this weeks project!!