Warm cinnamon rolls, fresh out of the oven, allowed to cool long enough so they are gently warm, glaze drizzled over them……paired with a cup of coffee or tea…..what could possibly be better! I made these a couple of weeks ago, shortly after my parents and I self-retreated during the current world crisis but when we were housebound long enough that we needed a sweet treat to break the cabin fever.
One of the processes that brings me tremendous joy and fun in the kitchen is working with yeast dough. I love the mixing process; and then, as I knead (I tend to do it the old fashioned way using the best utensils that the Universe provided me with—my hands and good ol’ elbow grease) appreciating the changes the dough goes through from being a sticky mess stuck on my hands to this beautiful, supple dough and perfectly clean hands.
While, admittedly, it takes several hours from start to finish, your time in the kitchen is truly minimal in three spurts. So very much worth the time you spend in the kitchen.
2/3 cup Miyoko’s cultured butter*1, melted and divided
4-1/2 cups white whole wheat pastry flour*2
1 teaspoon sea salt
For the Rolling:
1 cup brown sugar (or coconut sugar or maple sugar, but definitely a granulated sugar, not liquid)
1 tablespoon cinnamon
For the Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
½ cup tapioca or rice flour
3 tablespoons water, plant-based milk, or spirit of your choice*3
Warm the milk so that you it is ready to proof the yeast. While yeast can proof, or bloom, at 95°F, the ideal temperature range is 105°F-110°F. If you don’t have a kitchen thermometer, an easy test is if you put a drop on the top of your hand, it should feel only very slightly warmer than your body temperature, but definitely not hot. Yeast has its own sweet tooth, so it very much enjoys a touch of sugar to facilitate the proofing.
Once the milk is warm, add it, along with the yeast and sugar into a small mixing bowl. In about ten minutes, it should be foamy on top. If it is not, you yeast may not be alive; and thus, your dough will not rise properly. You’ll need to start anew with fresh yeast. Another issue may have been that the milk was too hot, which would kill the yeast. Yikes, we are vegan here, so no killing, no violence allowed. Only Ahimsa.
In a large mixing bowl (I use my stand mixer with the dough hook at the ready), whisk the ground flax seed in the warm water for a couple of minutes. It should become sort of glutinous and thick. Set aside.
To the mixing bowl with the flax seed mixture, add 1/3 cup of the melted butter, the flour, salt, and yeast mixture to the flax seed. Using the dough hook, bring the dough together, at first using low speed, then increasing speed on the mixer, mixing until the dough become a cohesive ball. If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can certainly mix it by hand with a wooden spoon and then use your hands to complete mixing the ingredients into a dough. Turn the out dough on floured surface.
Knead for 10 minutes until firm, yet supple, and smooth. If you have a bread machine, you can definitely take the dough to this point, then remove the dough from the machine and proceed.
Form dough into a ball and turn into well-oiled bowl, rolling the dough so that it has a scant covering of oil. This will help to prevent the dough from acquiring a crust while proofing. Cover with damp dishtowel and put in warm place (can preheat oven for 2 minutes, then turn off; but my favorite way to proof dough is to use my Excalibur dehydrator set at 85°-90°F with a bowl of warm water on the bottom of the machine and the bowl of dough on a tray), and let it stay there for an hour, until it doubles in size. Dough should leave an indentation when lightly poked that doesn’t close up quickly.
Combine brown sugar and cinnamon together. Melt remaining butter if it isn’t already melted.
Turn out dough onto floured surface and let rest for 10 minutes, covered. Then, roll it out into a rectangle between 1/8-1/4 inch thick. My favorite rolling pin for this task is my French cast iron enameled rolling pin. I keep it always in the refrigerator so that the dough stays cools while I am rolling it.
One the dough is in a rectangle, brush the dough with the melted butter, and then evenly top it with the cinnamon sugar mixture.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Roll into log long-wise. You don’t want the roll to be loose but you also don’t want it so snug that the rolls can’t rise properly. Cut into 12 equal rolls.
Place rolls into a greased 9”x12” sheet pan or on a cookie sheet. I tend to prefer the pan so that they rise touching each other; but you can certainly use a cookie sheet so that they rise and remain individual rolls.
Cover with a damp clean kitchen towel, and allow the rolls to rise again. Allow them to double in size, which should take approximately ½-hour. (If you are prepping them today so you can wake up tomorrow morning and freshly bake them, you can also park rolls in refrigerator overnight at this point. That will allow for a slow rise so that they will be ready to go in the morning. If you do park them, allow them to come to room temperature and rise before going to next step.)
Bake the cinnamon rolls for 10-15 minutes.
When they are finished baking, make the glaze by whisking together the glaze ingredients. If you really like a sweet glaze, you can swap out the tapioca/rice flour for more powdered sugar. I just personally prefer my glaze to not be cloying sweet, which is why I use some flour in place of some of the confectioner’s sugar. It’s an actual 1:1 swap-out either way.
Pout the glaze atop the warm rolls just before serving.
*1 As of this writing, the ONLY vegan butter that I use is Miyoko’s cultured butter. Not only is the taste spot-on but it is also an excellent product for baking, well for anything really, for that matter.
*2 When baking, I really do prefer white whole wheat flour. It’s a whole grain, so in my head, at least, it’s healthier than a refined white flour. Also, being a pastry flour, it is a finer grain which helps to lighten your baked goods, giving you the same texture that you would get from a refined flour rather than the density that tends to be associated with straight-up whole wheat flour.
*3 For the cinnamon rolls you see pictured here, I used Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey. When my son, Jason, and grandsons came over the Christmas holidays, Jason said I absolutely had to try this whiskey, so he bought a bottle. While it was really delicious, I don’t drink hard liquor; so I needed to find other uses for it. This glaze seemed to be an obvious choice. Trust me, it didn’t disappoint. Yum!!!
*4 Flax seeds are best kept fresh in the freezer and ground just before use. This will ensure their freshness when you are ready to use them. That being said, I also store my flours in the freezer. But, when you are ready to bake, all of your ingredients should be at room temperature before you get started.
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value*
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.