I’ve started watching The Chew during nap time. It’s relaxing because I don’t have to ‘think’ hard to follow a story line and I’ve been getting some good inspiration for new dishes. In the true fashion of this blog I’ve decided to *somewhat* fearlessly attempt to make a few of their gluten-laden dishes gluten-free. Last night’s adventure was a gluten-free, lactose-free take on Carla Hall’s Ham and Cheese Puff Pastry Pinwheels and oh my were they good!
These pinwheels took some guts on my part to make. I was only about 50% confident, at best, that these might turn out. Truthfully, part of me was sure they were going to be an epic fail! But, I powered through, determined to at least give it a valiant attempt. The original recipe from The Chew called for pre-made puff pastry. Obviously that is out for gluten-free baking, so I had to figure out how to get pliable, flaky dough to use in its place. Thankfully, Nicole from Gluten Free on a Shoestring has many biscuit recipes that could fit the bill. It also called for cream cheese and swiss cheese, which aren’t naturally lactose-free. I definitely had my work in store for me with adaptations to make this a dish my whole family could enjoy!
Here is how I did it.
- Start by preparing the filling from The Chew’s Ham and Cheese Puff Pastry Pinwheels and setting it aside until your biscuit dough is ready. Be sure to get your butter and cream cheese fully softened or this won’t mix right. In place of the butter use Earth Balance Buttery Sticks. For cream cheese we use the lactose-free, real cow’s milk cream cheese from Green Valley Organics. This stuff is fabulous! If that isn’t available near you, there are several brands of dairy-free cream cheese on the market. You’re probably not going to be able to find lactose-free gruyere, so go with your favorite lactose-free cheese. We commonly use Cabot extra sharp white cheddar, but I wanted something different here so I used a sheep’s milk manchego I found at Trader Joe’s. Did you know that many, if not most, people who are lactose intolerant (not allergic to dairy, but lactose-intolerant) can handle cheese made from sheep’s milk and goat’s milk just fine? As a bonus tip, should you maybe have forgotten to get fresh thyme at the store, one batch of this filling would call for 1/2 tablespoon of dried thyme. Don’t ask how I know. 🙂
- Make one batch of Nicole’s Gluten-Free Biscuits: Cinnamon Bun Style. Don’t worry, you’ll be skipping the cinnamon bun topping. This is just my favorite biscuit recipe on her blog so I make it whenever I want flaky cut-out biscuits. I’ve used it for regular biscuits and breakfast sandwiches in the past. To make the biscuit dough lactose-free use your favorite ‘safe’ milk. We use lactose-free real cow’s milk, but I would imagine you could use unflavored/unsweetened soy or almond milk here, too. Instead of regular butter, use Earth Balance Buttery Sticks. I promise it really does work!
- Go through the recipe, including the folding and rolling out into a long rectangle. Stop here. DO NOT cut these into biscuits! At this point, spread the cream cheese mixture on the biscuit dough. Since I made a double batch I got to do some experimenting. The best method seemed to be placing little dollops all over the sheet of dough and then spreading it (somewhat gently so you don’t murder your beautiful dough) with a rubber spatula.
- Lay about 4 ounces of ham lunchmeat across your dough sheet, on top of the cream cheese mix. Basically it should be enough to do a single layer of ham all the way across the dough sheet. I used Land O’Frost ham, but you can use whatever GF ham you prefer. The key is to be sure it is VERY thinly sliced so that it doesn’t interfere with rolling.
- Here is the step I was MOST nervous about. I was fairly certain it was at this point everything would turn into a swirling disaster as I attempted to roll the dough. I was wrong! There are a few keys here. First, go SLOW! This isn’t a moment to try to rush through and get things done quickly. Second, be GENTLE. You don’t want to roll this up super tight, because our gluten-free dough isn’t as stretchy and forgiving in this situation. The gluten protein, once activated, gives elasticity to dough. Gluten-free dough obviously lacks the gluten protein, so it is more prone to tearing when bakers attempt to stretch it. So, roll your dough tight enough that it’s not totally floppy, but not into a tight, skinny roll.
- Use a LARGE knife to cut through this. You want it to be able to fit all the way across the width of your roll easily so that you aren’t having to ‘saw’ back and forth to cur through it. After some tinkering, I believe cutting them into slices about 2-3 inches thick seemed to work best for baking purposes. Be sure to put them on a parchment-lined, rimmed baking pan. There can be some leaks from the cream cheese filling.
- We chose to skip the green olive topping for ourselves since most of the family dislikes olives (I love them in spite of this quirk).
When these come out of the oven you will be so happy! Imagine a cinnamon roll’s savory cousin. For those of us that need a bit of protein in the morning, pre-baking these and having them ready for a grab-and-go breakfast would be perfect!
Thanks to help from our awesome exchange student making our side dish we had delicious German fried potatoes and bacon with these for dinner last night (and leftovers for today). I promise, you will love these pinwheels. Now that I know the method works I can’t wait to try these pinwheels out with other fillings. What should I try next?