Sunday, June 3, 2012

White Rolls...for a Health Nut?

If you saw my pie crust recipe, it may have struck you as odd that a self-confessed nutrition geek is advocating the use of white rice flour. Does not everybody know that refined grains are empty calories? Don't those aware of the harmful effects of whole grains just turn to healthier processing techniques or leave grains behind?

Sure. However, rice is a bit of an exception. Soaking and sprouting don't help much to mitigate the damaging effects of brown rice, but on the other hand, rice is relatively low in anti-nutrients to begin with when compared to other grains. Refining brown rice into white actually does a pretty good job of removing anti-nutrients. Now, it's true that this also takes away most of what nutrients were there in the first place. I am not advocating that anybody rely on white rice as more than a source of clean-burning glucose, and exactly what role if any rice should play in your diet depends upon what else you eat, but it generally is healthier than brown rice because brown rice removes nutrients from your body.

Thus, we use white rice flour along with pure starches such as potato starch and tapioca starch/flour on a semi-regular basis. The primary objection to these seems to be the claim that because of their high glycemic index as individual ingredients, consuming them in any context will cause unhealthy blood sugar spikes. I have known people with severe blood sugar problems to refuse white rice but eat moderate helpings of brown rice, apparently unaware that the difference in glycemic index is only one point (56 vs. 55) and the glycemic index of brown rice is the same as that of a Snickers bar! No, I do not recommend that anybody chow down on pure flour as a snack, but who would? To the extent that glycemic index matters (and that extent is scientifically controversial), what matters is the meal you actually put into your mouth. A high-glycemic meal is sometimes more accurately termed a fat-deficient meal. So loading your dinner rolls with grass-fed butter, pâté, real cheese, or herb-infused olive oil is entirely different from chowing them down naked.

So yes, we do eat white rolls, and I do consider a warm roll with my soup a non-compromise health food. They go perfectly with many meals and, reheated in the toaster oven from the freezer, contribute to a quick snack.

2 t. active yeast
1 t. sugar
1 cup warm (not hot) water or milk
1 egg
2 T. honey
2 T. melted butter or coconut oil
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1 1/2 t. guar gum or xanthan gum
1 t. unrefined salt
1/4 cup sweet rice flour
2/3 cup tapioca starch, potato starch, arrowroot starch, or non-GMO cornstarch
3/4 cup white rice flour
1/2 t. vinegar

In a mixing bowl, whisk yeast, sugar, and warm water or milk. Let sit for ten minutes or so to proof.

Whisk in egg, honey, and melted fat. Add dry ingredients, stirring between additions, and mix until thoroughly combined.

Scoop into silicone or paper-lined muffin cups. Let rise in a warm, moist place. Tip: Place unrisen rolls into a cool oven, place a wide baking pan at least 1" deep on the bottom rack, and pour boiling water into the pan right before you shut the oven door. This creates the ideal rise environment. With this technique, my rolls rise more than enough in 45 minutes.

Bake at 350
°F for 20 minutes.

These keep on the counter for about a day and freeze excellently.

Note: Mr. D made these the other day using coconut flour instead of tapioca starch and skipping the rise time. They were totally different but quite delicious!

This post is part of Monday Mania.

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