Vegan Cinnamon Rolls

Back in college, Wednesdays were not just Wednesdays. They were Cinnamon Roll Wednesdays. The dining hall would open for service at 5:30 pm, but the really draw of the night, freshly baked cinnamon rolls still glistening with melted frosting, began at 6:15. At around 6, a line would start worming around the dining hall as stressed out students waited impatiently for a brief (but sweet) respite from problem sets and exams.

To be honest, I hardly ever waited in line. I’m very very serious about cinnamon rolls, and to be perfectly honest, after trying them during the first week of classes, I determined they were nothing to write home about. These babies? These babies however deserve your full and undivided attention.

‘ve made cinnamon rolls a few times, and I’ve always found it to be a very therapeutic process. My top advice, which I’ve learn over the years is:

  1. Chill the dough before rolling it out. Room temperature dough + soft butter is a nightmare to roll and slice. While chilling the dough requires an extra step, it ensures (relatively) pretty cinnamon rolls.
  2. Cut the cinnamon rolls with a bread knife. I’ve seen tricks for cutting cinnamon rolls with dental floss and the like, but ultimately I’ve found that using a nice bread knife gives the cleanest cuts.
  3. Mark out individual cinnamon rolls on your rolled dough before you cut them. A standard size cake or pie pan will fit 7 cinnamon rolls. If you mark out individual cinnamon roll notches first, you won’t end up with unevenly sized cinnamon rolls (which I definitely had).
  4. Roll out the dough on parchment paper. Good cinnamon roll dough will be at least slightly tacky (to ensure they’re soft and tender post-bake), so it really helps to roll out the dough on parchment paper (that’s dusted with a thin layer of flour). Plus, when you roll up the dough, the parchment paper gives you a lot more ease and flexibility.
  5. Let them cool for at least 10 minutes before topping with glaze. You want the glaze to melt a bit, but not too much that it completely dissolves on the rolls.

So, friends, there you have it. Cinnamon rolls. Well, vegan cinnamon rolls (which basically means butter is swapped for vegan butter, so they don’t actually taste much, or really any, different).

I’m a big proponent of cream cheese on cinnamon rolls, but for these I stayed true to traditional cinnamon rolls and made a simple powdered sugar glaze. I ate these while watching the World Cup game with my friend, and after doing the right thing for my health and giving most of them away, ate any leftovers for the next few breakfasts/dessert.

Don’t tell anyone I told you this, but I might have fried a leftover cinnamon roll in more butter and topped it with ice cream and coconut whipped cream. Shhh, that’ll be our little secret.

Vegan Cinnamon Rolls

Dough

Filling

Icing

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the almond milk, melted butter, sugar, and instant yeast.
  2. Add 5 cups of flour and the salt, and stir together until a shaggy dough forms. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and set aside in a warm place until doubled in size, about an hour.
  3. Knead the dough in the bowl until smooth, around 15-20 minutes, adding up to 1/2 cup extra flour as needed. The dough should be tacky, or even slightly sticky, but not wet. In other words, it might stick to your fingers or the bottom of the bowl a bit, but you should be able to easily knead it.
  4. Once smooth, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.
  5. Once the dough has chilled, generously butter 2 cake or pie pans with a half tablespoon of butter, each.
  6. Remove the chilled dough from the bowl and place on a large piece of parchment paper that has been lightly dusted with flour.
  7. Roll out the dough into a 1/2 inch thick rectangle.
  8. Spread the softened buttered on the dough, and sprinkle evenly with cinnamon and brown sugar.
  9. Roll up into a log, and pinch the seam closed. I like to keep the seam on the bottom to help keep the roll intact. I prefer to roll up the dough on its shorter side to create fatter cinnamon rolls with more “twists”, but that’s a personal preference. The dough is soft, so you want to work quickly while it’s still cold.
  10. With a sharp bread knife, cut the log into 14 pieces and place 7 in each of the pans. For aesthetic purposes, you can cut off the ends of the logs and discard, but I prefer to cut the entire log into 14 pieces, and then place the ends upside down in the cake pans. This tends to take care of any aesthetic concerns.
  11. Cover the pans with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place to rise for 30 minutes.
  12. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  13. After 30 minutes, remove the plastic wrap and bake the cinnamon rolls for 25-30 minutes. They should be golden brown on top, but still soft and tender (but not doughy) inside. If they are browning too fast, cover the pans with aluminum foil for the remainder of the bake time.
  14. Remove the cinnamon rolls from the oven and set aside to cool. Meanwhile, whisk together the glaze ingredients.
  15. When the cinnamon rolls have cooled off about 10-15 minutes, drizzle with glaze. I use about three fourths of the glaze, but how much you use is up to you and your sweetness preferences.
  16. Enjoy warm, with a steaming side of almond milk or coffee!

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