September is here and it feels like everybody north of the Mason Dixon Line is pulling out their sweaters with pumpkin spiced lattes. While us southerners are trekking up to the pool to make it through what is typically the hottest month of our year, we are making it feel like fall in creative ways. It may be in the high 90’s, but we are going to pick pumpkins and make pumpkin gluten-free cinnamon rolls till winter shows up. We are also going to crank up that AC and pretend the breeze outside our windows is a fall nip blowing through. I’m Mary Beth, mom of four, writer, and southern expat. After transplanting to the south 15 years ago, I’ve learned some tricks to making September work when you’re still in a tank top.
Trick your senses with fall aromas
If it doesn’t feel like fall outside, you can certainly make it feel like fall on the inside. One of my favorite tricks is to bake something that doesn’t keep the oven on for too long and also fills the house up with autumn aromas. Last week, after a discouraging weather forecast in the 90’s, I decided to rally and make pumpkin gluten-free cinnamon rolls. The house began to smell amazing and it was an instant mood-lifter. If you’re short on time, you could also throw your favorite autumn essential oil blends into a diffuser and fake fall till you make it.
Practice gratitude for every season
One of my favorite parts about the transition from summer to fall is the Thanksgiving tradition for us Americans. There’s just something about a collective spirit of thankfulness that turns the world right side up. I want to acknowledge that this time of year can also be difficult for those of us who are walking through heartache, loss, and trauma. I’ve learned that there is space for both joy and sorrow. Practicing gratitude can be a powerful tool for shifting perspective. It can be as simple as making a mental checklist of everything you’re thankful for in the carpool line, on the freeway, or in yoga class. Or, you can write a list in a journal before bed. In hard times this task may feel daunting, but as Oprah points out, “I went through the day looking for things to be grateful for and something always showed up.”
Create new memories – make pumpkin gluten-free cinnamon rolls!
Every new season brings new challenges. Kids clothing bins need to be rotated. Routines shift and change. Allergies kick in with a vengeance. The pumpkins on the front step start prematurely rotting from the heat. (Oh, is that just us?!) Yet, new seasons also bring opportunities to step outside of the ordinary and create new memories. Here are a couple things I’ve done (as a mom of four) to create new memories when fall rolls around…
Visit an apple farm
Pick up apple cider donuts (get extra and share with the neighbors)
Check out a cozy novel from the library (currently reading Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert)
Go on a family hike
Bake fall recipes (like the pumpkin gluten-free cinnamon rolls below)
Go on a bike ride or run through a pretty neighborhood (even though it’s still hot out in September, often the mornings and evenings become much cooler in the south)
Drive north to see some changing leaves and listen to a favorite podcast
How to make diet changes work for the season
There are so many wonderful treats this time of year brings, but if you’re like me and have recently made changes to your diet, this season can feel daunting. If you’re feeling alone with your health journey, get connected with other people who are making similar changes and can offer you support and resources. Find Instagram accounts, Facebook groups, and blogs who are offering recipes that accommodate your lifestyle choices. I’ve been gluten-free for almost a year and I could not have done it without the support of friends who have shared recipes and answered my many questions. I’ve also found that there are many workarounds with food I thought I would have to give up. For example, I used to make amazing cinnamon rolls in the fall and winter. I thought those days were over. Now, I substitute gluten-free flour (I like the King Arthur brand) and have been able to make lots of my favorite recipes with a few tweaks. These pumpkin gluten-free cinnamon rolls are now a possibility thanks to this wonderful recipe. So, without further ado, let me show you how to make them.
2¼ teaspoons active dry yeast (1 ¼-ounce package - not instant)
3 1/2 cups gluten-free blend flour (I like King Arthur)
1 teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon cloves
¾ cup + 3 tablespoons pumpkin puree*
4½ tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
3 tablespoons cane sugar
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 large egg
1 large egg white
Cinnamon Nutmeg Sugar Filling
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
½ cup packed dark or light brown sugar
2 tablespoons cane sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Cream Cheese Glaze
3oz cream cheese, room temperature
1½ cups powdered sugar, sifted
1-1½ tablespoons whole milk
Line an 8x8 pan with parchment paper and butter. You can butter the pan directly - it's just a little more messy.
Prepare the cinnamon nutmeg sugar filling. Combine the 1/2 cup brown sugar, 2 tbsp cane sugar, 2 tbsp cinnamon, and 1/2 tsp nutmeg in a small bowl. Set aside.
Warm the milk in a small pot on stove to between 105-115°F (if you go over, just let it cool until the temperature is in that range). Transfer milk to a wide bowl and mix in 1 teaspoon sugar. Slowly sprinkle the yeast over the warm milk and use a spoon to mix completely. Let set aside for 10 minutes while the yeast activates and foams. If your yeast hasn't gotten foamy by 10 minutes, you may have bad yeast and you should try again with a new packet.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the gluten-free flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer, combine the pumpkin puree, the 4 1/2 tbsp melted butter, the cane sugar, the light brown sugar, and apple cider vinegar and mix until smooth. Add the egg and egg white and mix until completely incorporated. Add the yeast mixture and mix until completely incorporated.
With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until completely incorporated. Change the dough hook and knead the dough on low for 1 minute. Let it rest for 1 minute. Knead again for one minute. Repeat 2x. The dough will be sticky (more so than gluten yeast dough), but if you pinch a tablespoon of dough off and set it on the surface, it should hold its shape. If it doesn't, add 2-4 more tablespoons of gluten-free flour until it's a little less soft and holds its shape.
Using flour covered hands or spoon, scrape the dough out onto a surface floured well. Roll your dough out to an 11 x 16 rectangle.
Pour 4 tablespoons of the melted filling butter all over the rolled out dough. Reserve about a tablespoon of the butter for brushing on top. Sprinkle the cinnamon nutmeg sugar filling over the melted butter.
Starting with the long edge, tightly roll up the dough into a spiral. I used a spatula to help me roll it to make sure it doesn't stick to the surface. If you need to add more flour on the spiral as you roll, that's fine!
Tap in the sides so they're flat and use a ruler to divide your log into 9 equal pieces (about 1.75 inches long). Cut into spirals using one of two methods: use unflavored dental floss or a serrated knife with very gentle back and forth movements and no downward pressure.
Place your cut rolls face up in the prepared pan. They should be sitting pretty close to each other and that will help them stay moist while they bake. Brush the tops of the rolls with remaining butter. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm, draft-free place for 1.5 hours until it has doubled in size and the cinnamon rolls are kissing each other. Note: Your rolls WILL appear cracked on the top. This is normal and okay because it affects the taste none and you're definitely going to cover that up with icing.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake the rolls for 40-45 minutes, until they're firm to the touch (and if you have an oven thermometer, the bottom third of the rolls reads at least 205°F.).
While the rolls bake, prepare the glaze. Mix the cream cheese and powdered sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer until combined. Add milk and mix until you get your desired consistency. I make mine halfway between thick frosting and drizzle-able icing.
When the rolls come out of the oven, cover them in icing and serve warm! Cinnamon rolls are best served warm fresh out of the oven and will become more dense the longer you wait. If you don't eat them right away, you can reheat leftover buns in the oven for 5-10 minutes at 375°F or for 45 seconds in the microwave.
I am Casey Leigh. I love to share my life through this little blog. When you stop by you can expect pieces of my perspective on life, faith, kids, marriage, loss... with touches of art, creative inspiration, fashion, projects & things I love along the way. My gift to you, our story...