I love cinnamon rolls.
When I first went vegan, I made it my business to recreate many favourite recipes. Over the years, while I’ve replicated lasagna, rum cake, shortbread, brownies, cheesecake (yes, there is a distinct trend) very nicely, cinnamon rolls have eluded me.
This has nothing to do with being vegan, and everything to do with:
a. trying to apply my mother’s tropical bread recipe in the chilly Pacific northwest.
b. having sudden greedy cravings for sticky pecan cinnamon rolls and failing to allow the dough to rise sufficiently, resulting in stodgy bread. Side note: heavy, doorstop-like baked goods are also referred to as being dumb, a term perhaps better directed away from the baked goods and towards the baker who does things like have sudden greedy cravings and fail to allow dough to rise.
Truth is, after several unsatisfactory breadmaking efforts (including sad attempts to raise the indoor temperature to near-tropical heights in order to wake the napping yeast), I’ve kind of given up and cut bread out of my diet for the most part.
Is bread tasty? Well, sure. Is it worth buying cheap ones filled with sodium and needless ingredients? Most definitely not. Is it worth buying $8 good quality loaves? Well, as an occasional pleasure, perhaps. But generally, $8 loaves of bread rather miss the mark of the whole concept of “bread basket items” and shift from “affordable hearty staple” to “gourmet privilege for the wealthy.”
This has generally left me in the sad situation of life without cinnamon rolls. My favourite vegan getaway, bakery Edible Flours, makes fantastic cinnamon rolls (and some caramel cupcakes that I would marry, if that were possible), so my life is not entirely empty. But Edible Flours is a good hour and a half bus journey away, and probably a 45 minute drive away, so you can imagine it’s not so often I get to savour their delights.
Well, I’ve reached a sort of compromise. I’ve moved over to the slacker’s cinnamon roll. The concept is simple: skip the yeast and slow-rise business and go with a simple biscuit/scone dough. In the past, I’ve haughtily turned up my nose at cinnamon rolls of this ilk, and thought “yeah, who are you fooling? It’s a biscuit.”
Scoff if you must. If you, like me, are not so up and up on the yeast, if you want cinnamon rolls and have half an hour to invest instead of six , if you, too, are a slacker, test these bad boys out.
Slacker’s Cinnamon Rolls
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
a few shakes salt
1/4 cup Earth Balance
3/4 cup soy milk, plus a splash of vinegar
1 tsp vanilla
optional: 1 tbsp organic sugar (optional = used the first time, and forgot the second, but didn’t miss it)
1/2 cup walnuts, minced until about the size of large bread crumbs
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
2 Tbsp organic sugar
1 tbsp Earth Balance
2 tbsp Maple Syrup
**Also have a length of thread on hand before you get your hands too doughy!** (No, it’s not a secret ingredient.)
1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
2. Begin dough by sifting together flour, baking powder, and salt.
3. Rub Earth Balance into dry ingredients.
4. Add soymilk-vinegar mixture to flour mixture and mix in with a fork. Knead gently a few times.
5. Make filling by combining walnuts, cinnamon, nutmeg, and sugar.
6. Roll out dough into a rectangle, about 1/2″ to 3/4″ thick.
7. Dot the tbsp Earth Balance over the dough.
8. Sprinkle the filling mixture over the dough, leaving about half an inch around the edges.
9. Drizzle the maple syrup over the filling mixture.
10. Roll the dough up jelly-roll style, and vertically, so you have a long ‘log’.
11. Use your length of thread to cut the log into individual cinnamon rolls. I do this by holding one end of the thread in each hand, sliding the thread under the log, then crossing the two ends and pulling over each other so the thread slices through the log. I made my rolls about an inch thick. (Perhaps you could also use a knife, but I like the thread method.)
12. Place cinnamon rolls onto a baking sheet and bake at 400 F for 10-15 minutes, or until lightly golden brown.
13. Munch away!
These are not the world’s sweetest cinnamon rolls. If you have an exceptionally sweet tooth (or perhaps just a typically sweet one), they’d definitely be good stuffed with raisins, or drizzled with a light icing. I like a less sweet sweet treat, though, so this hit the spot for me!