Ethan loves these rolls! They’re sturdy without being crumbly and are soft and moist. The sprinkling of sea salt and Italian herbs on top gives a great burst of flavour too. As Ethan is always hungry (like every teenage boy), I’ve made them a decent size so that he can fit as many fillings as he likes in there!
I’ve used a combination of almond meal/flour and toasted sunflower meal in this recipe. The toasted sunflower meal gives a lovely subtle flavour to this bread. When I first started developing this recipe, I felt the Focaccia were a bit too light. So, I added a ¼ cup of sweet rice flour to the mix and I really preferred the slightly denser texture it gave.
They make the perfect roll for a steak sandwich!
I like to pre-slice the rolls before freezing. Once defrosted, Ethan likes to pop it under the grill and give the inside of the roll a light toasting (allow it to cool) before he fills it with cold meat and salad for school.
There are a few things to keep in mind when making bread. Your oven, altitude and climate whether, it’s dry or humid, can influence your results. I do have different results when making bread and rolls in winter compared to making them in summer. In the cooler weather I slightly flatten the rolls on the tray before baking, as this helps them to spread and not become too high and round.
I was making the rolls with lightly oiled bare hands, but discovered if I wore disposable gloves, it made shaping and rolling the dough a lot quicker and easier. You will still need to lightly oil the disposable gloves before you handle the dough. However, if you choose to use your bare hands, you will need to use about another tablespoon of oil.
Make sure you have all the ingredients at room temperature before you start making the bread. It is really important to have your milk at the right temperature 41C-46C (105F-114F). If your milk is too hot it can kill the yeast and if it’s not hot enough your yeast will not activate. I’ve found I have more constant results by using my oven to prove the bread. I always put a bowl of water in the bottom of the oven, as this creates a warm but humid environment, which is perfect for bread proving.
For accurate cup measurements, I sift the potato starch before measuring, so that there are no lumps/clumps. All cup measurements are firmly packed.
Makes 6 large rolls
310ml (1¼ cups) warm dairy free milk of choice
1 tablespoon (15ml) maple syrup
1 tablespoon (15ml) instant dried yeast
50g (1.8 ounces or ⅓ cup) sunflower seeds
64g (2.3 ounces or ½ cup) tapioca starch
60g (2.2 ounces or ⅓ cup) potato starch
56g (2.0 ounces or ½ cup) almond meal/flour
50g (1.8 jounces or ⅓ cup) brown rice flour
50g (1.8 ounces or ⅓ cup) sorghum flour
50g (1.8 ounces or ⅓ cup) millet flour
44g (1.6 ounces or ⅓ cup) white rice flour
32g (1.1 ounces or ¼ cup) sweet rice flour (aka glutinous rice flour)
1 tablespoon (15ml) xanthan gum
1 teaspoon (5ml) salt
½ teaspoon (2.5ml) onion powder
3 large eggs, at room temperature
60ml (¼ cup) light olive oil (I use this brand)
1 teaspoon (5ml) apple cider vinegar
Extra oil for oiling hands approx. 15-30ml or 1-2 tablespoons, depending upon whether you wear disposable gloves or not
1 large egg, lightly beaten for brushing the tops of the bread
Sea salt flakes & Italian herbs, for sprinkling
In a small frypan over a low heat, dry fry the sunflower seeds until golden and fragrant, they’ll also make small popping noises. Transfer to a dish and, once cooled,
use a coffee or spice grinder to grind the seeds into a meal. Just don’t blend for too long, otherwise you’ll end up with sunflower butter.
Preheat the oven to 75C (167F) and place about 2 cups of warm water in a bowl and place it at the bottom of your oven. Once the temperature has been reached, turn your oven off.
Line a tray with baking paper or parchment.
The temperature of the milk needs to be between 41C-46C (105F-114F). Add the maple syrup and yeast and give it a stir to combine. Allow it to stand for no longer than 7 minutes, so please set a timer! The yeast will be frothy and bubbly.
While you’re waiting for the yeast to prove, measure out the flours, xanthan gum, salt and onion powder. Sift them together before whisking through the sunflower meal and then set aside.
Using a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, add the wet ingredients to the bowl and pour in yeast when it has finished proofing. Mix on a low speed to combine.
Continue on a low speed as you gradually add the sifted dry ingredients, mixing until well combined.
Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl with a spatula and then turn the speed up to medium and beat for 4 minutes.
Pour the extra oil into a small bowl.
I use a kitchen scale to weigh out the dough. It is important that you lightly oil the surface of your scale otherwise the dough will stick. Although the dough is slightly sticky, it is still pretty easy to work with, as long as your hands are lightly oiled. Using an ice cream scoop, dollop 3 level scoops of dough on top of each other and lightly press it down (each ball of dough should weigh approx. 165g or 5.8 ounces).
Put on the disposable gloves (if using) and lightly oil your hands before picking up the ball of dough. If you’re using bare hands, please be aware this does take a little time and patience. Roll it into a smooth round ball, and if you happen to feel or see any dry areas just rub a little oil into it, then place it onto the prepared tray. The buns may need a little more smoothing over once placed on the trays. Leave about a 6cm gap between each of the buns. Continue the above method with the remaining dough.
Place the tray in the oven and allow the dough to prove for 20 minutes. Remove the tray and the bowl of water from the oven and turn the oven to 160C.
Liberally egg wash the tops and sides of the rolls and sprinkle over the sea salt flakes and Italian herbs. The rolls will continue to rise a little more while the oven is reaching the set temperature.
Bake for 25 minutes until they are lovely and golden in colour. Immediately transfer the rolls to a cooling rack and allow them to cool completely before cutting.
These focaccia rolls will last a couple of days in an airtight container, either stored in the pantry or the refrigerator. You can also pre-slice them before wrapping in plastic wrap and putting them in the freezer. I find placing the wrapped rolls in an airtight container protects it from frostbite.
Recipe by: The Gluten & Dairy Free Bakehouse
Note: all recipe oven temperatures shown are for a fan forced electric oven. Please refer to the below guide to help you adjust your oven accordingly. This recipe is shown in bold.
Oven Temperatures Chart
130C = 110C fan = 250F = Gas mark 1
150C = 130C fan = 300F = Gas mark 2
160C = 140C fan = 320F = Gas mark 3
180C = 160C fan = 350F = Gas mark 4
190C = 170C fan = 375F = Gas mark 5
200C = 180C fan = 400F = Gas mark 6
220C = 200C fan = 425F = Gas mark 7
230C = 210C fan = 450F = Gas mark 8