Vegan Cinnamon Rolls

vegan cinnamon rolls | healthy green kitchen

I announced in yesterday’s post that I am giving away a copy of Ricki Heller’s new cookbook, Sweet Freedom.

I’ve been super excited about the release of this healthy desserts cookbook ever since Ricki told me she was working on it a few months ago. Last week, I was lucky enough to receive a review copy from the author.

The book is filled with so many delicious looking treats; I had a hard time deciding which recipe to make first. But when I saw the the healthy vegan cinnamon rolls recipe, I figured they would be perfect for my family’s Sunday breakfast.

I’ve always wanted to make homemade cinnamon rolls, and these seemed quite simple since the dough has no yeast. The recipe is also wheat-free, dairy-free and contain no refined sweeteners!

Though the recipe is vegan, I am not, so I opted to use organic butter in the filling (because I prefer it to vegetable oil). In addition, I was out of agave, so I used raw honey (not a big deal if you are not vegan, but stick with the agave if you are) in its place. My cinnamon buns came out awesome…and I mean AWESOME!

Recipe for Cinnamon Rolls
From the Sweet Freedom Cookbook! Note that the recipe and directions below are Ricki’s…any changes I made are noted in bold; also note that Ricki is truly a baker and her directions are meticulous; I don’t always have the patience to follow each and every fine point in recipes, so you can see how I sort of did my own thing in the photos at the end of the post.

1/2 cup (90 g) Sucanat or other unrefined evaporated cane juice (I used organic sugar)
2 Tbsp (15 g) whole spelt flour
2 Tbsp (30 ml) ground cinnamon (yes, tablespoons—don’t worry, it’s not
3 Tbsp (45 ml) sunflower or other light-tasting oil, preferably organic (I used organic butter here, so mine weren’t actually vegan)
1 Tbsp (15 ml) water, plus up to 2 more teaspoons (10 ml) if necessary

2 cups plus 2 Tbsp (300 g) light spelt flour
1 cup (135 g) whole spelt flour, plus 2 Tbsp (30 ml) more if necessary
(plus 1/4-1/2 cup more for dusting and rolling out dough)
2 Tbsp (30 ml) baking powder
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) fine sea salt
1/4 cup (60 ml) chilled coconut oil, preferably organic/should be solid
1 cup (240 ml) pure orange juice (see tip 1) (I used vanilla hemp milk)
2 Tbsp (30 ml) light agave nectar (I used honey)

Glaze (optional):
1/2 cup (90 g) Sucanat (or other unrefined evaporated cane juice) (I used organic sugar)
1/4 cup (30 g) organic cornstarch
Up to 2 Tbsp (30 ml) plain or vanilla rice , soy or almond milk (I used vanilla hemp milk)

Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Line a 9” (22.5 cm) springform pan with parchment paper, or spray with nonstick spray (alternately, you may use one 8” (20 cm) square pan and one standard loaf pan; line or spray both pans as well). I used a 9×13 inch pan greased with organic butter and I used my hands to “flatten out” the dough instead of rolling it…see the pictures and comments at the bottom of the post for more details. Have ready a rectangular cutting board, plastic placemat, or piece of waxed paper that’s about 13 inches by 10 inches (32 x 26 cm) big.

Make the filling first: In a medium bowl, combine the Sucanat (or organic sugar), 2 Tbsp (30 ml) whole spelt flour and cinnamon; mix well. Drizzle the oil over top and stir to combine and coat as much of the filling as possible. Add one tablespoon (15 ml) water and mix it in completely to create a thick but spreadable paste (it should not become liquid at all, but be more the texture of a nut butter). If mixture is too thick, add more liquid one teaspoon at a time; be careful not too add to much liquid, or the filling will be too thin! Set aside.

Make the dough: In a large bowl, sift together the light spelt flour, 1 cup (135 g) whole spelt flour, baking powder and salt; use a whisk or fork to mix together. Drop the cold coconut oil (or organic butter) by teaspoons (5 ml) over the surface of the dry mixture. Using a pastry cutter or wide-tined fork, cut the mixture by pressing through the lumps of coconut oil and into the flour, just enough to create pea-sized pieces of oil (some bits may be smaller, but none should be larger). Toss the flour mixture with a fork to distribute the oil throughout. Resist the temptation to pinch this together with your fingers as you would a crumb topping; the oil should not be completely blended in to the flour mixture, but just scattered throughout in little lumps. Set aside.

In a glass measuring cup, whisk the juice (or milk alternative) with the agave nectar. Pour this wet mixture over the
dry ingredients in the bowl and toss with a fork until it comes together in a ball (again, avoid touching this with your hands, except to pull it away from the sides of the bowl and push it together in a ball). You should have a very soft and moist dough; this is as it should be. If it is too moist to hold together, add the extra 2 Tbsp (30 ml) whole spelt flour and combine quickly.

Flour the cutting board, placemat, or waxed paper with about 1/4 cup (35 g) more whole spelt flour. Place the mound of dough on the board, pushing it into a ball with your hands, and dust the top of the ball with about 2 Tbsp (30 ml) more whole spelt flour. With a floured rolling pin, roll out the dough so it more or less covers the rectangle, starting in the middle and rolling toward the edges (see tip 2).

Spread the filling over the rectangle with a rubber spatula, coming right to the edge on three sides, and leaving a one-inch (2.5 cm) border of dough on one of the longer sides. Begin to roll the dough, starting at the long side that has filling right up to the edge, and roll toward the long side with the one-inch empty border. Once you get to the end, keep rolling so that the last long edge (the “seam”) is underneath the roll. Cut the roll into 3 equal pieces (you can measure them, or just estimate—it doesn’t need to be perfect). Then cut each piece into 3 more equal pieces, for 9 pieces total. Each piece will become one bun.

Place the pieces in the round pan so that the spiral pattern is facing up (that is, one of the cut edges is against the bottom of the pan and the other cut edge faces upward). Begin with one bun in the center of the pan; then space the other 8 buns evenly around it, with the seam of each bun touching the side of the pan. There will still be space between the 8 pieces around the outside of the pan; this is fine.

(If you are using the square pan and loaf pan, set it up this way: 3 buns go in the loaf pan and 6 go in the square pan. Space the 3 buns evenly across the loaf pan from end to end; be sure the seam of each bun faces a side of the pan. In the square pan, you’ll have 3 rows, from top to bottom, with 2 buns in each row. Place the first bun in the upper left corner and the second bun to the right, about halfway across the pan. Then stagger the middle layer under those two,
placing two more buns below the spaces in the first row. End with the third layer on the bottom, positioned the same way as the first layer. There will still be some spaces between the buns; this is fine).

If using the springform pan, place it in the center of the middle rack of the oven. If using the square and loaf pans, place the square pan in the center of the top rack and the loaf pan in the center of the bottom rack. Bake for 25-30 minutes, rotating pans about halfway through, until the rolls puff up a bit and the area around the filling is lightly browned. The tops of the buns should be dry and firm. Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 5 minutes before topping with the glaze.

While the buns bake, prepare the glaze: In a small bowl, combine the Sucanat and cornstarch. Add 1-2 tablespoons (15-30 ml) of the soymilk and mix it in completely; allow the mixture to sit for 5 minutes or so to allow the Sucanat to dissolve. If the glaze is still too thick at this point, add more milk, a teaspoon (5 ml) at a time, until the glaze is pourable but still thick; you want it to run off the tops of the rolls, but it should not be so thin that it pools at the bottom of the pans.
Drizzle the rolls evenly with the glaze. Allow to cool before cutting or pulling apart. Serve straight from the pan or remove to serving plates. Makes 9 cinnamon buns. May be frozen.

Tip 1: If you’re out of orange juice, you may substitute plain or vanilla soy or
almond milk mixed with 1 tsp (5 ml) apple cider vinegar.
Tip 2: If you don’t have a rolling pin, a clean, empty tall glass jar, wine bottle
or even a tall glass

My notes and photos:

To save time in the morning, I actually made my dough the night before I baked the cinnamon rolls, and then I placed it in the refrigerator overnight. When I took it out it was cold, so rather than roll it out as Ricki instructs, I divided it into 9 small balls:

cinnamon roll dough ball

Then I flattened the dough balls out into squares, and I made three rectangles consisting of 3 squares “attached” to each other. I spread the cinnamon filling over each rectangle:

cinnamonon roll dough

I rolled each filled rectangle up from the short side, like this:

rolling up the cinnamon dough

Then I cut each rolled up rectangle into three even pieces, and placed these, cut side up, in a 9×13 inch baking pan greased with organic coconut oil:

cinnamon rolls in pan

I baked them up and glazed them as Ricki instructs. They were fabulous!
Thanks Ricki for a delicious recipe- I look forward to making more of your yummy treats!

If you’re interested in entering the raffle to win a free copy of the book, go to June Healthy Cookbook Giveaway for the contest rules (hint- if you leave on comment on this post, that’s one way to enter)!