In the special diet world, sometimes we are limited not by ingredients, but by physical technology. Used to be, back when I started this gig, you had to make buns using these dopey hinged metal rings around your dough. Gluten-free doughs are wetter than their playdough counterparts (an apt comparison, since Play-Doh® is made of wheat,) so you can’t just wad them into a little ball and plop them onto a baking sheet. The rings leaked batter at the bottom, and were generally such a pain in the tuchus that I never bothered trying to make my own buns on a regular basis.
But oh, how that has changed, with the advent of a new baking pan that they could have been making all along, but only now got around to. They call it a “muffin top pan,” but just look at the reviews. Maybe one person is using it to cook regular muffins in a hip new shape; the rest are all using it to make buns out of alternative flours.
Now, don’t be fooled by the non-stick claims it makes. Amazing as it is, you are still going to want to do a little prep work to ensure that your hamburger buns pop easily out of the pan. First, tear off a sheet of parchment paper 18-20 inches long, about the length of a standard baking sheet. Fold it lengthwise into thirds.
Now fold it upward in half, and in half again. Note that this is a recipe for 12 buns spread across two baking pans, so if you’re only making one pan’s worth, you can either use fewer folds, or save the extra pieces for next time.
Cut your folded bundle into a circle about the size of the little wells in the pan.
No need to measure exactly, just place the stack inside the well to see if you need to trim a little more here or there. When you have it right, set the stack aside, and watch it fly everywhere as the counter-folded pieces try to snap back into their natural rolled shape. You’ll end up with a pile of little taco shells, but we’ll take care of their defiant shape in a minute.
Now, weigh out 66 grams of coconut flour. It’s about 2/3 cup, but trust me, you really want to be weighing precisely when it comes to coconut flour. It’s a very finicky flour that turns out fantastic when done right, but is very easy to over- or under-measure. Case in point: we’re making 12 hamburger buns with just 2/3 of a cup. A recipe with any other flour, gluten-free or not, would be using three times that. A little coconut flour goes a long way, and a little too much goes a long way too much. Just get yourself a digital kitchen scale, they have a ton of uses even outside the kitchen. I like mine because the little display portion pulls out so I can still see it when I’ve got a big bowl on top (or, say, a carboard box that I’m weighing for postage,) but there are less expensive ones that work just fine as well.
Blend in 1 teaspoon of baking soda, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt.
Now add 1/2 cup of grapeseed oil. I have no idea why mine came out looking so green in this photo. At any rate, you can substitute whatever light-flavored oil you happen to have in the house, no big deal.
Mix the batter well with a fork until all the lumps are out. Once the other liquid ingredients are in, it will be close to impossible, so don’t try to save this step for later.
Now then, a little pro tip (from a non-pro): take that measuring cup that you just poured the oil out of, and you’ll notice that some has remained on the sides and collected in the bottom. Stick your finger in there, and smear a little of that oil on the bottom of each well of the pan. It’s the perfect amount to grease the pan without any additional dirty dishes.
Place each parchment paper circle, taco-filling-side down, and the oil will hold it in place.
Okay, back to the aforementioned liquid ingredients. 1/4 cup of honey…
…And 8 eggs. Eight eggs? Yes, eight eggs. This is the marvel of coconut flour. Rumor has it Mars used to be a rainforest until someone accidentally spilled some coconut flour on the ground. It sucks up moisture like a camel that’s been dehydrated into an astronaut meal. You must never, ever try to substitute between coconut flour and other gluten-free flours, because your liquids will be totally off, and the recipes simply will not work. Just don’t even call it a flour, if that helps. Think of it as coconut magic dust.
What if you’re allergic to eggs? Can you even bake with coconut flour at all? Well, yes and no. Yes, because you can replace the eggs with another liquid (say, 1/4 cup applesauce per egg,) and it’s certainly still edible. But the final consistency will be like raw cookie dough, to be eaten only with a spoon. Now, raw cookie dough is awesome, and my kids eat coconut flour “muffins” made without eggs all the time. But they are basically just a paper cup of raw cookie dough. You definitely cannot make usable hamburger buns without eggs.
That being said, my daughter is allergic to eggs. Yet here I am, cooking with them. How can this be? Because they are duck eggs. Many people allergic to chicken eggs can actually tolerate duck eggs just fine. Just check with your local farmer’s market, or even Craigslist. I guarantee you that someone near you has some ducks, and has no idea what to do with all the eggs they lay.
Gawd, enough with the yammering! I know, I know. Okay, so, we’ve blended our batter together, now just spoon it evenly among the 12 wells in the pans. I usually start with two big spoonfuls of batter in each one, then go back and spread out what I have left.
Bake for just 12 minutes at 375 degrees, and you will soon have these marvelous golden orbs before you, radiating not only hope and love, but also the most amazing smell. Gently run a spatula around the edges right away to keep them from sticking, then allow them to cool entirely before popping them out of the pan. Don’t forget to peel the parchment paper off the bottom. Try not to gorge yourself right then and there, or else you’ll never find out how well they freeze and reheat later.
Coconut Flour Hamburger Buns
66 grams (about 2/3 cup) coconut flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
1/4 cup honey