Gluten Free Hamburger Buns – Celebrating Gluten Freedom

All good things come back, right?

I’ve been thinking about this post since last week. Friday, to be exact. I’ve tried to figure out the best photo, the best wording, etc. But what I’m left with is the same post I had been planning since before Friday.

Friday was a wild-ride-of-a-day for me. In the fantastical sense. Really.

I teach high school (aka “get paid to have people throw ping pong balls at my head for 6 hours a day“). And Friday was the last day of school before Spring Break. Friday + Spring Break + Teenagers + Sugar (it was Treat Day) = WILD RIDE.

The kids were “adopting” (really…this is the beginning of the irony) other kids “creatures”. They are writing letters in Spanish about their Break to this newly “adopted” “best friend”. (It’s a long story, but you have to understand the “adopting” part for my day to make any sense at all.) And it was Friday Treat Day when the kids – if they want – bring in treats to share with each other. And this is where the giving began.

You see teenagers (and people in general) are really amazing. My students know that I can’t eat the same things they do and they usually end up asking a few questions out of curiosity and then they start to figure it out. On Friday Treat Day, kids bring in extra towels to clean up so I don’t have to touch anything that might get me sick. They often show up with two types of treats in hopes that I can eat one of them. And then Friday they blew me away. One girl made gluten free chocolate chip cookies for me and popcorn balls for everyone. Such a sweet kid, really. I enjoy her greatly in class and it felt wonderful to be so included.

And then in the afternoon, a young freshman boy had volunteered to bring the treats for his class. At the beginning of class he was anxious as he had left the treats at home (of course) and his mother had to bring them in…. and she was running late. Nothing is worse that being a freshmen in an upper level class without promised food on a Friday… let me tell ya. When his mom arrived, she gracefully entered the room carrying 60 (!!!) chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting – all GLUTEN FREE! I was shocked! I also secretly worried about what the kids would think about the flavors, textures, etc of gluten-free food. (If you are wondering, let me just say this…. no cupcake survived to live another minute as everyone ate two!).

As if these acts of amazing kindness were not enough, the universe just felt the need to open up a window for me to show me more. You see, my husband and I are in the midst of adoption planning, fund-raising, praying, etc. And what that entails is time, energy, and creative thinking on our budget (school teacher and social worker). One day at school I was talking to a colleague about it all (the energy, the worry, etc) and the reasons why we have chosen not to try fertility. In her room at the time was her “student-teacher”, a woman who has chosen to enter the teaching field as a second career. We talked about miscarriages (mine) and stillbirths (hers and my cousins) and the grieving process. We talked about an art show that my sister had organized and in which I had participated. We talked about the amazing bonds of humanity with pregnancy and pregnancy loss regardless of whether you are male/female – you have been impacted at the core of your person. Oh. It was a great conversation.

And then just this last Friday, she made me cry all over again. She left the most beautiful note in my mailbox at school with a couple hundred dollar bills tucked inside. She told me that the money was a gift from her mom for her birthday and Christmas together. But since she felt she didn’t “need” anything nor have want of anything, she had tucked the money away for keeping. In coming across the money while cleaning she had decided to send it to me and my husband for our adoption fund. She gave it to me as a gift from a mother to her daughter so that another woman could become a mother too.


Yes. I crumbled in the hallway while reading her beautiful words.

It felt like I had been watching this dream of being a mother through a closed, smudged window for ages and someone had just cracked the window open enough for me to breathe in the fresh air. I am still completely overwhelmed by her act of love and kindness. Completely.

And while I walked into her class, sobbing, and hugged her for however long I could manage, I just repeated “I don’t know how to thank you.” Because I honestly don’t. The poor students in the room (half of which were mine too) were silent and worried. One asked if I was okay and I told them yes, of course. I was just overwhelmed with joy and kindness. I then told them that there are sometimes not enough words in the world to adequately reflect the love and gratitude that you can feel in your heart. And that, they understood completely.

So why am I posting about hamburger buns? Well, have you met Steve? (Okay, me neither…not yet… but I hope to!) Steve has a plan for an act of kindness in April with his “Celebrate Gluten Freedom” event. I’m all over it. And since I can’t sit down and have a BBQ with Steve and Ginger as we would all like, I decided to bring the buns anyway. 🙂 Hey. Gotta try something!

These are great buns and are still tender the next couple days. They are firm enough to split and toast on the grill too. Now that’s what I call a BUN!

May your week hold as many delights and surprises from the human spirit as you think you can handle – and then some.
Happy Hamburgers and BBQs!

Kate’s Hamburger Bun Recipe
3/4 cup warm water + tablespoons until smooth cookie dough
2 1/2 tablespoons turbinado sugar -“raw sugar”, or just plain ol’ sugar
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 1/2 tablespoon yeast
1 egg, separated
2/3 cup millet flour
1/3 cup sorghum flour
1/4 cup powdered buttermilk or sweet dairy whey
1/4 cup tapioca starch flour
1/4 cup potato starch (NOT flour)
2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon salt


  1. Preheat oven to 200F
  2. Proof yeast in warm water (not higher than 120F), butter and sugar.
  3. Separate egg (reserve yolk). Whip egg white until firm peaks form and set aside in a small bowl.
  4. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together millet, sorghum, powdered buttermilk, tapioca flour, potato starch, salt, and xanthan gum.
  5. Add reserved yolk to yeast mixture. Pour into mixing bowl of dry ingredients and beat together thoroughly.
  6. Fold in whipped egg white.
  7. Prepare muffin rings/pan. Line a pan with a silpat or parchment paper. Place 6 rings on pan (3″ rings). Spray the inside of the rings with olive oil. (Spritz the parchment paper with olive oil as well.)
  8. Evenly scoop the dough into the six muffin rings by dipping a spatula/spoon in water and then scooping. Smooth the tops of the dough with wet fingers or a wet spatula to avoid it from developing tips that will burn.
  9. Turn off the oven. Slide the pan into the warm oven and allow the buns to rise for 40 minutes.
  10. At 40 minutes, dough should have practically doubled in size.
  11. Leave the pan in the oven and turn the temperature to 350F.
  12. Bake for 13-15 minutes or until golden brown on top (almost a deep brown) and completely set. The buns will be soft but NOT squishy.
  13. Remove from oven allow to cool for 10-15 minutes before cutting out of the rings. Cool additionally on a cooling rack before storing in an airtight container on the counter top.
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