Oh, cinnamon! It’s just the most heavenly spice. It’s good in basically everything from oatmeal to smoothies to crêpes. And it’s especially good in what is probably its signature dish: Cinnamon Rolls. I like mine fluffy and soft and with all that gooey goodness (doesn’t everyone?!). And these babies deliver on all those aspects. So try not to eat the whole batch all at once.
When preparing the cinnamon rolls, you’ll find that the dough is rather sticky and quite moist. It’s meant to be that way as it makes the rolls softer and lighter. When working with the dough, you can simply rub a little oil in your palms. That way, the dough won’t stick. In the beginning of kneading the dough, I find it easier to use a fork or a wooden spoon rather than my hands.
After the dough has risen to about double its size, it’s spread out using a roughly 11 x 15 inch (30 x 40 cm) sized sheet of aluminum foil. This way, stickiness is reduced to a minimum. If you don’t have aluminum foil or don’t want to use it, you can always use a sheet of baking paper. The dough would probably stick more, though. Alternatively, if you want to use neither, generously flour your counter before stretching out the dough.
Another note on spreading out the dough – spread it out with your hands, not a rolling pin. The use of a rolling pin presses the air out of the dough, making it less fluffy. And we don’t want that, right?!
After having spread out the dough to its desired size, the filling is added. After that, it’s time to roll! To do that, we don’t roll the whole dough into a single giant roll. We use a knife to cut the dough into small strips of roughly an inch. Then, we roll the cinnamon rolls up one by one. This is a bit of a delicate job, but by going slowly and guiding the dough with your fingers, you’ll get there. You can add a bit of oil to your fingers to handle the strips.
This way, the cinnamon rolls will have a more even shape. Plus, I find it’s a whole lot easier than trying not to squish anything while cutting up a whole roll.
Soft & Sticky Cinnamon Rolls
makes about 12
For the dough:
- 3 cups all-purpose flour (spelt flour would work, but it won’t be as fluffy and soft)
- 1/3 cup water
- 2/3 cup plant-based milk of your choice (I used oat milk)
- 1/3 cup (67 g) vegan butter
- 1 tablespoon dry yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon canola oil
- some vegan butter for greasing the pan
For the filling:
- 1/4 cup vegan butter
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 1/4 cup + 1/8 cup sugar
For the glaze:
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1.5 tablespoons vegan butter
- 1/8 cup plant-based milk
- In a big bowl, mix the dry ingredients for the dough.
- Put the vegan butter and plant-based milk in a small saucepan. Melt the butter on medium to low heat, but don’t melt it all the way. Take the pot off the stove when the butter is almost incorporated and mix by hand. The butter will melt quickly. Let the mixture cool for about ten minutes so it’s not so hot and doesn’t kill the yeast.
- Once the milk and butter mixture has cooled a bit, add it to the dry ingredients. Using a knife or wooden spoon, mix until a ball of dough forms. The dough will be rather moist at this point and that’s okay. After kneading this way for a few minutes, rub 1 teaspoon of canola oil on the surface of the dough. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and let it rise in a warm spot until it has roughly doubled in size. This might take anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour.
- Pre-heat the oven to 350° Fahrenheit/180° C.
- When the dough has risen, place an aluminum sheet sized roughly 11 x 15 inches (30 x 40 cm) on your counter. Place the dough in the middle and gently spread it out. Be patient – you don’t want to rip the dough by going too fast. It will stretch out slowly as you pull it apart little by little. Spread out the dough until it reaches the edges.
- In a small saucepan, melt the vegan butter for the filling. In a small bowl, mix sugar and cinnamon.
- Spread out the melted vegan butter with a spoon. Evenly sprinkle the sugar-cinnamon mixture on top.
- Using a knife, cut the dough into thin strips of roughly 1 inch (roughly 2 cm). It’s easiest to do this one by one: slice it, then roll it up gently before slicing the next strip (see explanation above). Go slow when you roll up the cinnamon rolls and try to make sure they’re rolled up as tightly as possible.
- Lightly grease a 10 inch cast-iron skillet or a similar sized baking pan. Place the cinnamon rolls right next to each other.
- Put the pan in the oven for 15 minutes.
- After 15 minutes, turn down the heat to 300° F/150° C and cover the dish with the aluminum foil you used to spread out the dough. This prevents the rolls from getting too dry. Bake for 10 more minutes.
- Make the glaze: Melt the vegan butter, stir in sugar and plant-based milk and mix until incorporated. Drizzle the glaze on top of the cinnamon rolls and let it firm up for a few minutes. If you can’t wait, more power to you!