Classic Vegan Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon rolls hot out of the oven

When I lived in San Diego, and before I was vegan, our annual trip to the county fair always started at the cinnamon roll stand. These cinnamon rolls were thick, tender, loaded with cinnamon, and topped with a gooey icing. I looked forward to them for weeks before the fair. After I become vegan, cinnamon rolls fell off my radar: at that time, I couldn’t find vegan cinnamon rolls and it seemed like far too much work to make them.

Cinnamon roll dough ready to be rolled up
Cinnamon roll dough ready to be rolled up

Then I saw this recipe for Easy Cinnamon Rolls from the Minimalist Baker website. Oh. my. They were perfect…well, almost. I make them a little bit differently, but they’re still just as easy. These are the main reason I’ve thought about buying a bread machine–so I could set up the dough the night before and have it ready for final assembly in the morning. Given a choice, my husband would have these every morning.

These are wonderful with a cream cheese frosting, but we can’t get vegan cream cheese here and I rarely think far enough ahead to make it. I used to just make a simple glaze from powdered sugar, non-dairy milk, and a touch of vanilla. Then I discovered the wonders of a peanut butter glaze (below). Yes, peanut butter on cinnamon rolls. You’re welcome.

Cinnamon roll with peanut butter glaze!
Cinnamon roll with peanut butter glaze!

Tip: whenever I cover a yeast bread or dough to let it rise, I use a plastic shower cap–the kind they give you in hotels. I find that I can reuse shower caps several times, which I can’t do with regular plastic wrap. The little elastic band holds the shower cap in place nicely.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup non-dairy milk
  • 3 tablespoon refined coconut oil (or vegan butter)
  • 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (1 packet)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoon cane sugar
  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (or substitute all or part whole wheat pastry flour)
  • 3 tablespoon vegan butter
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Method

  1. In a medium saucepan, gently heat the non-dairy milk, coconut oil, and 2 tablespoon sugar until the oil is just melted and the sugar dissolved. Don’t let it get too hot–it should feel just barely warm to the touch.
  2. Transfer the milk mixture to a mixing bowl. Sprinkle the yeast over the top and allow it to activate, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the salt and mix.
  4. Add flour to the yeast mixture 1/2 cup at a time, stirring as you go, until it’s too thick to stir. Remove from the bowl and kneed on a floured board for a couple minutes. The dough may be a bit sticky.
  5. Put the dough in a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap (or a showercap!). Allow to rise until doubled–about an hour or a little more.
  6. When the dough has risen, roll it out on a floured board into a rectangle. The dough should be about 1/4 inch thick.
  7. Melt the vegan butter. Brush some onto a 9 x 13 inch baking pan, and onto the rolled out dough. Use about 1/2 of the butter.
  8. Sprinkle the dough with the 1/4 cup of sugar, then sprinkle the cinnamon over the sugar.
  9. Starting at the bottom edge of the dough rectangle, roll the dough tightly.  Pinch the edge of the dough to form a seam. You’ll have a kind of dough log.
  10. With a serrated knife, cut the dough into 12 rounds.
  11. Place the rounds into the buttered baking dish. Leave some space between the rolls. Brush them with the remaining melted butter.
  12. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and place the pan on top of the oven. Set the oven to 350 degrees (F). This gives the rolls a nice warm place to rise while the oven heats.
  13. When the oven is hot, remove the plastic wrap and bake the rolls for 25-30 minutes. They should be just starting to brown. If you like your cinnamon rolls slightly crunchy on the outside, let them brown a little longer.
  14. Remove the rolls from the oven and allow them to cool slightly. If you’re using a glaze, pour it over the rolls while they’re still warm.
  15. Enjoy the cinnamon-y deliciousness warm!

If you have any left over, you can reheat them in a toaster oven.

Peanut Butter Glaze

  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/4 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1/4 tsp salt (if your peanut butter is unsalted)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 3-6 tablespoon non-dairy milk (depending on the thickness of your peanut butter)

Blend all ingredients until smooth. Start with 3 tablespoon of non-dairy milk and add more, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the glaze is pourable but not too thin. Drizzle over the warm cinnamon rolls and prepare for peanut buttery, cinnamony bliss.

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