Looking for a savory gluten-free treat? I’ve got the most delicious ham and cheese pinwheel recipe to satisfy those cravings!Jump to Recipe
A Savory Treat
These ham and cheese pinwheels are such a great dish to serve up in a lunch or dinner gathering! This is one of my favorite recipes to make and look forward to the delicious outcome each time. The reason why they happen to be a favorite of mine is because of the beautiful blend of ingredients. The combination of flavorful ham, cheese, homemade dough, caramelized onions and dijon mustard always hits the spot!
Did I mention that they are also gluten-free? You’d never guess by the pillowy consistency, but these pinwheels are in fact gluten-free! There are two keys ingredients in this recipe that yield the perfect texture and consistency. Together they allow the dough to rise, stretch and bake like traditional dough containing gluten. The outcome is not one you want to miss! The pull a part texture of the dough unfolds layers of flavor, making this one tasty recipe!
What are Pinwheels?
For starters, there are so many different versions of what a pinwheel is. Pinwheels range from Mexican fried snacks, known as Chicharrones De Harina, to Danish baked goods. In the U.S, pinwheels are often cold wraps stuffed with turkey, cheese, and other sandwich fixings rolled up in a tortilla. Essentially though, it’s the general shape of a recipe that makes it a pinwheel.
Pinwheels, whatever dish it may be, are rolled up into that infamous round, spiral shape. Pinwheels typically use a spread to hold the ingredients in and the shape together. In America, cream cheese is often utilized to accomplish this task. Jams or fruit spreads are often used in sweet baked goods though. In this savory recipe, all we need is some melted butter and dijon mustard!
No matter the spread or filling, pinwheels are always a fun snack to enjoy! The possibility of what you fill them with, if you serve them hot or cold, and baked or unbaked allows room for many different types of pinwheel recipes to take shape. Not to mention, each one is so unique!
Time to Start the Yeast
The most important part of this recipe is we preparing the dough. But before we can even do that, we must create the yeast mixture. Let’s talk about the yeast for a quick second. First, not all yeast is the same. So, what is the difference between an active dry yeast versus an instant yeast? Well, the main difference is that active takes longer but it also yields a better texture. Instant yeast doesn’t have a strong rise; which, is crucial to this recipe!
There’s a key word in “active dry yeast”: activate. The yeast can’t just be added to your flour mixture. For this step, you’ll need warm water, sugar, and two and a half teaspoons of active dry yeast. Start by warming three fourths cup of water in a microwave safe bowl. Make sure it’s 110-115 degrees Fahrenheit before mixing in your cane sugar until dissolved. Then add in your yeast and stir, then allow the mixture to sit for roughly ten minutes. The water needs to be warm in order to dissolve the sugar, so the yeast can activate.
After the allotted time, the yeast should be ready. The mixture should grow slightly in size and foam with a beer-like aroma to it. If after 10 minutes this is not the case, then the yeast is not alive. This could be because the water was too hot or cold. If you do have a foamy concoction, then you’re ready for the next step!
Mixing The Dry Ingredients
Now, it’s time to create the blend of dry ingredients. The mixture will consist of gluten-free flour, psyllium husk powder, baking powder and salt. The two key ingredients that were mentioned earlier are a part of the blend. The first is the flour and the second is the psyllium husk powder. Yes, the flour is a key ingredient because the kind you use matters!
So, What kind of gluten-free flour do you use? While my favorite baking flour is Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 Gluten Free Baking Flour , that flour is actually not recommended for recipes involving yeast. That baking flour is designed for cookies, muffins, and other baked goods. Instead, you can use Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Gluten-Free Flour! It’s the perfect dough for yeast heavy dishes, like this recipe! This flour is ideal for cinnamon rolls, pizza dough, or crescent roll dough. The dough for this recipe is actually very similar to crescent roll dough!
Also, you might be wondering what exactly is psyllium husk powder is? It is a crucial ingredient in gluten-free baking! Psyllium husk powder allows gluten-free dough to behave like a traditional dough. It acts as a binder and provides the dough the elasticity and flexibility that gluten usually yields. Without psyllium husk powder, the dough can’t stretch the way we need it to for this recipe. But when using psyllium husk powder, a little bit goes a long way! Too much and the dough may yield a purple hue when baked.
Putting It All Together
After we have the activated yeast and blend of dry ingredients, it’s time to bring it all together. First combine softened butter and greek yogurt in a large mixing bowl. Next, add the activated yeast to the Greek yogurt mixture and mix on low speed for one minute. Then sift in half of the dry ingredients as you continue to mix.
Once combined, add the rest of the dry ingredients and mix until fully combined once more. Now you should have a somewhat sticky ball of dough. It shouldn’t be overly sticky but just sticky enough to handle. Go ahead and transfer the dough to a warmed, greased glass bowl. Cover with a tea towel and place in the oven on the proof setting. Or, you may set the oven to 200 degrees and turn off once the oven reaches that temperature. Allow the dough to proof in the oven for one hour.
Why do we proof our dough? This is another way to say “let the dough rise”. It is extremely crucial that the dough rises, or proofs, in a warm spot. This allows the yeast to activate accordingly. Without this step, the dough wouldn’t have that soft, pliable texture. If you don’t want to put the dough in the oven to proof, you can put it in a warm, sunny spot. Just make sure that it’s warm enough to proof accordingly.
Finishing Up the Dough
After the hour of proofing is finished, the dough should have doubled in size! Remove from the oven and transfer to a large, floured work surface. Sprinkle the dough with more flour and gently knead with your hands for two minutes, folding the dough into itself until you form a ball.
Dust again and use a rolling pin to roll out the dough into 12’x12′ rectangle. Dust lightly as needed. Just remember that the dough should be slightly sticky. It shouldn’t stick to the rolling pin but you do want it to have a slight stickiness to it. Iff you over flour it, the consistency and texture of the dough won’t be as pillowy when baked.
Making The Caramelized Onions
This may seem like a daunting task, but I promise you it is quite simple and straight forward! First, I would suggest using yellow onions to caramelize as they have a hint of sweetness to them that will pair beautifully with the butter. With a little patience and time, you’ll be surprised just how easy it is to make amazing caramelized onions for your ham and cheese pinwheels!
Start by slicing three medium-sized yellow onions. I like to slice them in a julienne-cut because it ensures the slices will be more or less the same size; which, means they will cook more evenly. Once cut, add a stick (eight tablespoons) of unsalted butter to a large pot or Dutch oven. Melt the butter over medium heat, moving the butter until it’s completely melted. Then, add the onions to the pot. It may seem like too many onions, but much like spinach, the onions will diminish in size as they cook.
In total, you’ll stir continuously for roughly 25 minutes. Trust me, the time spent doing this is worth the reward. As the onions begin to cook down and look translucent, season with half a teaspoon of pepper and a dash of salt. About halfway through, reduce the heat to medium-low to prevent the onions from burning and add two tablespoons of vegetable broth.
The broth will help deglaze the pan, as well as add additional flavor. Then, hit the onions with a dash of Worcestershire sauce. While some people like to use balsamic or a bit of sugar, I love the complexity of flavor and color that Worcestershire gives the onions. After the allotted time, the onions should have a rich, golden brown color. As well, I have a short video here showcasing the process of these caramelized onions!
Let’s Add In The Ham and Cheese!
We are going back to the dough we kneaded and rolled out into its rectangular shape. Brush that same dough with the melted butter, then lay the ham slices down, leaving an inch border around the dough and 2 inches on the right side of the dough. Brush the ham with the Dijon mustard and layer with the freshly grated gruyere cheese, caramelized onion, and parmesan. Spread an even layer of each across the ham.
Homemade ham is the absolute best option to use for this recipe. I’ve got a great ham recipe linked here that is easy to follow and lays out every detail you could need! I love baking this ham for Christmas and using the leftovers for other recipes like these ham and cheese pinwheels. These pinwheels are the perfect lunch snack post holidays! Plus, using your leftover ham is a great way to avoid excess waste.
Now, here comes the shape. Take the left side of the dough and begin tightly rolling it over until it meets the other side. Use a serrated knife to carefully cut 2 1/4″ slices of the pinwheels. Place the cut pinwheels in a 9’x13′ greased baking dish. This should give you 6 pinwheels layer next to eachother in the dish. Brush with any remaining butter and place in the oven for one hour to proof one more time.
After the allotted time, combine the egg and water and brush the egg wash over each pinwheel. This prevents the top of the pinwheels from burning. Place in the center rack and bake at 350 degrees for 75 minutes turning halfway to ensure they bake evenly. Cover with foil if they start to burn.
Cooling and Finishing
After baking, allow the pinwheels to cool for 15 minutes in the pan before removing. An optional step would be to garnish the pinwheels with black poppyseeds and serve with Dijon mustard! I can promise you that you and your family will love these ham and cheese pinwheels!
If you are left with a few stragglers and need to store them, I recommend storing them in a sealed container in the fridge. When you are ready to enjoy at a later day, simply reheat in a toaster or oven. I find that popping them in the oven maintains that texture, while microwaving them can deflate the dough. We all know how dough does in the microwave!
Side note: this recipe is a winner to serve at holiday gathers and football parties! Just some food for thought. See what I did there?
The Best Ham and Cheese PinwheelsCourse: Savory DishesDifficulty: Medium
This gluten-free savory treat is not one you want to miss!
- Ingredients for the dough
1 1/2 tablespoons cane sugar
3/4 cup warm water
One packet of active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup Greek yogurt
1 1/2 cups gluten free flour, plus more for dusting
2 1/2 teaspoons psyllium husk powder
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
- Ingredients for the Pinwheels
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
5-7 long ham slices
1/4 cup dijon mustard
1 cup gruyere cheese, freshly grated
3/4 cup caramelized onions
1 cup parmesan, freshly grated
1 egg, whisked
1 teaspoon water
- Instructions for the dough
- Warm water in a microwave safe bowl, then stir in the cane sugar until dissolved. Add the yeast and stir, then allow to sit for 8-10 minutes.
- In a large bowl, combine the butter with the Greek yogurt using an electric mixer. Mix on medium-low speed for two minutes until combined.
- In another bowl, combine the flour, psyllium husk powder, baking powder and salt.
- Once the yeast has activated and sat for the allotted time, add to the Greek yogurt mixture and mix on low speed for one minute.
- Then, sift in half of the dry ingredients and mix. Once combined, add the rest of the dry ingredients and mix again.
- After all of the ingredients are thoroughly combined, transfer the dough to a warm, greased glass bowl.
- Cover with a tea towel and place in the oven on the proof setting, or set oven to 200 degrees and turn off once the oven reaches 200. Allow the dough to proof in the oven for one hour.
- After one hour, the dough should’ve doubled in size. Remove from the oven and transfer to a large, floured work surface.
- Dust the dough with more flour and gently knead with your hands for two minutes, folding the dough into itself until you form a ball.
- Dust again and use a rolling pin to roll out the dough into a 12’x12′ rectangle. Dust lightly as needed.
- Instructions for the Pinwheels
- Brush the dough with the melted butter, then lay the ham slices down, leaving an inch border around the dough and 2 inches on the right side of the dough.
- Brush the ham with the dijon mustard and layer with the gruyere cheese, caramelized onion, and parmesan- spreading an even layer of each across the ham.
- Take the left side of the dough and begin tightly rolling it over until it meets the other side.
- Use a serrated knife to carefully cut 2 1/4″ slices of the pinwheels.
- Place the cut pinwheels in a 9’x13′ greased baking dish- you should have 6- lay them right next to each other.
- Brush with any remaining butter and place in the oven for one hour to proof again.
- After the allotted time, combine the egg and water and brush the egg wash over each pinwheel.
- Place in the center rack and bake at 350 degrees for 75 minutes turning halfway to ensure they bake evenly, cover with foil if they start to burn.
- Allow the pinwheels to cool for 15 minutes in the pan before removing.
- Optional: Garnish with black poppyseeds and serve with Dijon mustard.
- Store in an air tight container in the fridge up to five days.