Orange Rolls with Chocolate Frosting

For the rolls:

1 packet active dry yeast (2 ¼ tsp)
¼ cup water, warm
½ cup sugar, divided
1 ¾ cup white rice flour
1 cup potato starch
½ cup tapioca flour
1 Tbsp xanthan gum
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
¾ cup milk, warmed
4 Tbsp butter, melted
2 Tbsp canola or vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the filling:

1 navel orange
¾ cup sugar
6 Tbsp butter, softened

For the frosting:

¼ cup butter, softened
¾ cup confectioner’s sugar
2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp heavy whipping cream

  • Grease a large iron skillet or a 9×13 baking dish.
  • In a mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the yeast, warm water, and 1 Tbsp of the sugar. Let the mixture sit for about 5 minutes, making sure that the liquid bubbles a bit and the yeast gets a little foamy.
  • In a separate mixing bowl, combine the white rice flour, potato starch, tapioca flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • Add the warm milk, melted butter, canola oil, eggs, and vanilla extract to the yeast mixture and stir to combine.
  • Add the dry ingredients gradually to the yeast mixture, mixing each addition fully before pouring more of the dry stuff.
  • Once everything is mixed together and smooth, cover the bowl lightly with a clean towel or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for an hour.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Cover your work surface with about two feet of parchment paper. Dust the paper’s surface with a bit more rice flour. Scoop the batter onto the parchment paper, dust the top very lightly with more rice flour, and place another piece of parchment paper on top of the batter. Roll out the batter while it is sandwiched between these two pieces of parchment paper until it is about ½ inch thick, 12 inches wide, and 16 inches long. Carefully remove the top piece of parchment paper.
  • Now, make the filling. Add ¾ cup sugar and the zest of one orange to a small bowl. Stir until the zest is evenly distributed and all of the sugar is aromatic and lightly tinted a yellow-orange.
  • Soften the 6 Tbsp butter, then spread it gently over the rolled out batter. Sprinkle the orange sugar evenly over the whole rectangle.
  • Using the edge of the bottom piece of parchment paper, roll up the batter tightly starting on the long, 16-inch side, tucking and readjusting the paper as needed. Once you have a coherent log and the parchment paper no longer covers the top of the log, use a sharp knife to cut the log into about 12 slices.
  • Place the slices in the greased skillet or pan. Bake for 25-27 minutes.
  • While the rolls are baking, make the frosting. Add the ¼ cup softened butter to a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the confectioner’s sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla extract, and heavy cream and blend until perfectly smooth. Scrape down the sides if necessary.
  • Once the rolls have cooled a bit, frost them and serve warm.

As I stood at the counter, eating some leftover frosting with a spoon, my mom looked at me and laughed, telling me that whatever gene led to this behavior had certainly come from her. To be honest, I didn’t feel much embarrassment at my mid-afternoon snack (even though I probably should have — really? Frosting on a spoon?) My sense of justification came mostly from the test 5k I had run on my own earlier in the day, in which I had met my pace goal. Dammit, this body ran 8:27 min/mile today. It gets frosting. Or so was my reasoning.

I recently read somewhere, maybe on Instagram, that folks who have an online presence like ours benefit their readers by sharing the highs and lows of their experiences. That is, to share some of the failures, the ugly cakes, the crappy camping trips, along with the successes.

I think we do a decent job of that already — anyone who has read James’ PCT flashback posts has no illusions left about how glamorous through-hiking is.

But I think this post is as good as any to share some more about how we really live. Both James and I relate to this post from incredible website The Oatmeal more than a little. The artist/genius behind the Oatmeal writes of his love of running, in part because it allows him to treat his body like a “fast-moving dumpster.” I love food and I love being active. Luckily.

An ideal balance for me looks something like today, actually — a walk with the dog, followed by a hard, yet gratifying run, followed by a dinner of a big bowl of stir fry and then two pieces of rhubarb crumb cake. Oh yeah, and the frosting, of course.

But I should say that there are so many days when I don’t balance things well, and maintaining an active and satisfying lifestyle is not always easy. There are lots of days when I’m too busy and don’t prioritize proper food. It was particularly difficult on our most recent road trip, when I totally fell off the bandwagon with my running and ate burgers and Sour Patch Kids as we sat in a car for a week. I felt distinctly icky by the time we arrived at our destination. 

Some of these thoughts have been swimming around in my head, probably in part because of this week’s recipe. We’ve been trying to figure out a gluten free cinnamon roll recipe for a while, since that is one of the foods that I haven’t been able to have much at all since going gluten free. We messed around with a pumpkin cinnamon roll recipe last year, but it was too dry and definitely not blog-worthy. 

After making a chocolate cake for my dad’s birthday last week, we had some particularly lovely chocolate frosting left over, and I immediately set to thinking about what we could do with it. While cinnamon rolls with chocolate alone didn’t really appeal, adding the citrus and floral notes of orange certainly seemed to be promising. What started as a recipe inspired by this one from Cooking Classy turned into a rather ridiculously good breakfast/dessert hybrid (breakfert? dessfast?) that was a daily temptation to my willpower while it sat on the counter. 

This is all to say that I hope you’re finding your perfect balance, whatever that looks like for you. And hopefully, that balance can somehow include these delicious breakfert rolls.