Vegan Cinnamon Rolls (Fluffy, Light: Perfect Sunday Morning Inspiration!)

After having no sense of smell, for over a week now, I had had it. I was baking this morning. And I was baking the KING of all Sunday morning indulgences: cinnamon rolls (nose be damned. . . calories, too). Taste buds, these rolls are for you! Baking these would be the ultimate smell sensation test--was my head clearing? Or am I imagining the cinnamon wafting through this house? Sadly, I barely caught the teeniest scent of yeast-y cinnamon--but I caught some of it--which is better than none! This lack did not deter me from devouring two full rolls on my own. (Plus, I am certain if we were to have held an Open House, our home would have sold in a hot minute: "Welcome to Cinny-bon Lane!")
I've probably made at least a half dozen cinnamon rolls from scratch. Each time, I learn something new, be it dough density issues, cinnamon quantity issues, to nut or not-to-nut issues, to raisin or not-to-raisin issues. (I will always opt for pecans and raisins. Always--so that's really NOT an issue for me.) The last version of cinnamon rolls I made was from a brioche dough (Rose Levy Beranbaum's). Brioche, needing a TON of egg and butter is not an easy vegan translation. But I did pull it off, even if they did have a somewhat burnt side (one side of them was completely edible). My pride got in my way and I refused posting on that disaster as I ate my mistakes feigning delight at my brioche dough accomplishment. Dr. Thyme did not fall so easily. After two days in the fridge and nary a nibble (sigh) in the trash they went--it killed me to do so, trust me. 

Enter Peter Reinhart's recipe for Cinnamon Rolls--the man who's never met a bag of flour he didn't like. This recipe is, hands down, the best cinny-bun recipe I've ever made. And truthfully, it wasn't a huge, painful ordeal to make them vegan. Heck, it wasn't a huge, painful, pre-ferment nightmare at all. Barely ten minutes of pre-work last night, place in oiled bowl, cover tightly with plastic and viola--the dough was in the fridge and we were tucked away in bed. Because I'll be honest, we are still trying to recover from all that "ick" that attacked our immunities for these, now, going on two weeks.
Artisan Breads Every Day is, to me, Reinhart's book that takes the Bread Baker's Apprentice fear out of baking breads. Reading ABED was like a pre-kindergarten version of reading about breads after having digested BBA. I still re-read BBA--when I have the energy to do so. I don't feel I've gleaned ALL I needed to to be the best Home Dough Princess I could be. (Though I do think I am on the cusp of HDP.) The whole idea of the word Everyday to me, means, I can make artisan breads without being shackled to my kitchen for three or more hours. I'm not saying I have a problem with an all-day kind of yeasty conquest, I don't. But given my lack of energy here lately, the word "Everyday" sort of caught my eye, more so than a thesis on all manner of yeast, water, flour and salt.
These rolls require prepping the dough the night before. But trust me, the prep is barely prep at all--and forget about needing anything but your own hands, a wooden spoon and one large bowl for mixing and another bowl to place the mixed dough into for resting overnight in the fridge. That's it. Both members of this household were competely smitten with the outcome. My vegan adaptations are flexible. So be creative and make them your own!

My health update is this: Went to the doc on Friday because quite honestly, I don't usually feel "un-well" for this long--over ten days now. I fell asleep in the exam room (from utter exhaustion from driving myself there). Doc said, "Kelly. . .  you've had to take treatments for asthma for nearly thirty years, your lungs are NOT like everyone else's". Thanks mom for the car trips to Florida with the windows rolled up all the way while you enjoyed your pack-a-day habit! Never mind I had not needed an inhaler for at least two years now--seriously, my need for any asthma support was null, nada. (I consider being a vegan not only a moral choice, but very much a healthy life choice--especially given my Little Shop of Horrors lungs.) Take one mean virus and introduce my lungs and you have a pretty awful health scenario. The doc after listening to my lungs--heard the wheezing and all, sent me home with a steroid inhaler and a warning that I may not begin to feel better for at least another ten days. Ten. Days. Be patient. Rest up, you'll be back to running in no time, but DO take it easy. (Easy? What's that?!) This is kind of a long recipe--but totally worth the effort in my humble opinion!

Vegan Cinnamon Rolls
*Adapted from Peter Reinhart's Cinnamon Roll Recipe

2 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast
1 cup, plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened almond milk (warmed to 90 degrees)
3 1/8 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (14 oz. or 397 grams)
3 tablespoons Florida Crystals sugar
1/2 tablespoon sea salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
zest of a quarter of a lemon, scant 1/2 teaspoon

For Filling
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/4 cup Florida Crystals sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup of raisins soaked in hot water (then drained and patted dry)
*Mix all of the dry ingredients together. Set aside.

For Icing
2 tablespoons tofu cream cheese
1 tablespoon unsalted vegetable margerine
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
zest from a lemon (about a half teaspoon)
*Mix all ingredients together and set in fridge ahead of time, if you'd like.

Whisk together the flour, salt and sugar in a large mixing bowl and set aside. In a small bowl, add the milk and yeast and whisk well until yeast dissolves. Add lemon zest to the milk mixture. In the bowl with the flour, make a well and pour in the milk/yeast mixture. With a wooden spoon, mix the dough well, until all the flour and milk has combined to form a soft, crumbly dough. Using your hand, mix the remainder of the dough together, giving the bowl a turn, picking up stray bits of flour as you go. Eventually the dough will come together enough to form a ball and come away from the sides of the bowl. Now, take the dough ball and place on a lightly floured counter and knead the dough by hand for a bout five minutes. Your dough will be sticky--enough so that it sort of comes away from the ball when you poke it with your finger--but eventually springs back to the dough ball. The dough will have a somewhat smooth appearance, but should not be overly dry--shape into a ball. In a medium-to-large bowl sprayed lightly with cooking spray--place ball of dough and turn the ball to coat with oil. Cover the bowl tightly and place in fridge overnight. The next morning, about two hours before you plan to bake, pull dough out of fridge. (I placed my bowl on top of my fridge because this happens to be the warmest spot in the kitchen first thing in the morning!) Meantime, line a 9" cake pan with parchment paper. Spray the paper and sides of pan and set aside. After dough has come to room temperature--in about two hours--remove the dough from the bowl and with a very gentle hand, lightly turn the dough ball over and re-shape into a new ball--very lightly, and allow to rest for an additional 20 minutes. At this point, I turned on my oven to 350. Next, place the dough on a lightly floured counter. With a rolling pin, roll the dough out to about 12 x 15 inch rectangle, about 1/4 inch thick. However long you make the dough, you'll want to be able to cut eight rolls from it. Spray the dough with cooking spray.With the long end closest to you, spread the mixture of cinnamon and sugar, then nuts and raisins over the dough--leaving a half inch border. Carefully, from the long side which is closest to you at the end of the counter, roll the dough up, tucking the dough in on itself as you go. When you finally have the dough all rolled up, pinch the ends up and with your bench scraper, cut the dough into eight pieces, placing the rolls face down in the 9" baking pan as you see above--swirl side up. Spary the tops of the rolls with cookiing spray, and cover with plastic wrap and place someplace warm to allow for final proof before baking--about an hour and a half for me, as my pre-heated oven vent is where I placed my covered pan of rolls. Remove the plastic and bake rolls for ten minutes. Turn baking pan around and bake an additional 15 or so minutes--until the rolls turn a nice light golden color. Remove from oven, allow rolls to cool in pan for about 15 minutes. Drizzle the icing over warmed rolls. Enjoy!  



  1. My girls had tried to make cinnamon rolls two years ago for Christmas, but they didn't turn out nearly this good! I'll have to write this recipe down! :-) Thanks.

    Blessings, Debra
    Raw Vegan Diet

  2. The rolls look amazing! I keep wanting to make some, but have yet to do it.

    Sorry you haven't been feeling well for a while. I've been battling a kidney infection the past few weeks, so I feel your frustration!

  3. Thanks for the note about the Bread Bakers Apprentice. That sounds like it right up my ally! Hope you feel better soon!

  4. Oh boy, I can't wait to make these. Thank you so much for veganizing them and sharing the recipe.
    I have both 5 Minutes A Day books and My Bread, by Jim Lahey so I was wondering which Peter Reinhart book should I start with? I havn't been able to decide by just reading reviews. I would love your opinion.

  5. Hi Ladies!
    Debra, Thanks for the note! If you make these, please let me know how they work out for you all!

    Vegan Flower, So sorry to hear you are dealing with a KF right now--those are awful--hope you feel better soon! Thanks so much for the note!

    Allison, You are welcome!

    veganhomemaker, Thanks, girl! You are more than welcome--and PLEASE let me know how they work for you if you give them a shot! I know that our humid weather lately may have played a part in my dough "behaving"! To answer the "which PR book to get?"--both are so well written and cover so much--even in his "Everyday" book, I learned even MORE bread stuff. I personally started with his BBA. I read it through cover to cover--it took me a week. The first thing I then made were bagels: OMG! I thought the font size in "Everyday" seemed larger--if that matters (LOL!). You could go to the bread-head site: The Fresh Loaf (I love that site and I bet you already know about it!) and read waaay more PR reviews--it always seems to have really good answers and really good bread info./opinions.

  6. Hi Kelly, yes, font size really does matter(LOL). I bought the new Happy Herbivore cookbook recently and I can't even read the measurements the font is so small. I don't like taking my glasses on and off while I'm cooking so I don't think I'll be using that cookbook much.
    So I took your advice and went to The Fresh Loaf(yes I did know about it, from you:)) and now I've added 2 more books to my Peter Reinhart list, American Pie and Whole Grain Breads. I wish I could just buy all four!

  7. Hey Girl! Okay--so now, would you please let me know what you think of American Pie--I don't have that one, but I DO SO LOVE pizza!

  8. Oh I really do want these....I've been bookmarking vegan cinnamon rolls for a while. I'll just have to make time to make them :) I can smell them already....


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