I usually exchange food gifts with a friend. She had one simple request. That simple request was to bake her some vegan cinnamon rolls.
I’ve made many things, but not once did I ever consider making cinnamon rolls, let alone vegan cinnamon rolls.
She gave me a recipe she thought I should try and realized the only thing vegan about the cinnamon rolls was the replacement of butter and milk. Luckily, I already consume a milk substitute, but I had to get introduced to vegan butter.
Just to make sure it was strictly vegan and ingredients I know my friend could consume, I asked her to recommend a vegan butter and she chose Earth Balance. Now, I use real butter when I back, so I had never heard of Earth Balance. Thankfully I found it and was ready to get to work.
I have a stand mixer with a kneading attachment, but there is beautiful sense of joy when kneading by hand.
Skip ahead to the final process, I was concerned they wouldn’t taste good or I over-baked them. I get a bit nervous when I’m making food for other people.
Thankfully, the vegan cinnamon rolls turned out to be perfect. I was a little short on powdered sugar, so they weren’t as packed with icing, but my friend actually enjoyed minimal icing.
Vegan Cinnamon Rolls (adapted from Minimalist Baker)
- 1 packet yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
- 1 cup unsweetened plain almond milk*
- 1/2 cup Earth Balance (vegan butter), divided
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 3 cups (408 g) unbleached all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 cup brown sugar (light or dark)
- 1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
- In a microwave safe bowl, heat the almond milk and 3 Tbsp Earth Balance until warm and melted (in 20-30 second increments depending on your microwave), never reaching boiling. Remove from heat and let cool to 110 – 115 degrees F. I used a thermometer to keep track of the temperature.
- Add yeast and 1 Tbsp of sugar. Gently whisk to combine. Let activate for 10 minutes until foamy.
- Next add in flour 1/2 cup at a time, stirring as you go (you may not need all of the flour). The dough will be sticky. When it is too thick to stir, transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead for a minute or so until it forms a loose ball (do not over knead). Rinse your mixing bowl out, coat it with canola oil, and add your dough back in. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise for about 1 hour, or until doubled in size.*
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a thin rectangle. Brush with 3 Tbsp melted Earth Balance and top with 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 – 1 Tbsp cinnamon and 1/4 cup brown sugar. Feel free to add more sugar or butter according to your taste.
- Starting at one end, tightly roll up the dough and situate seam side down. Then with string of floss or sewing thread, cut the dough into 1.5 – 2 inch sections and position in a well-buttered 8×8-inch square or comparable sized round pan (you should have about 10 – 12 rolls*). Brush with remaining 2 Tbsp Earth Balance (melted) and cover with plastic wrap. Set on top of the oven to let rise again while you preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Once the oven is hot, bake rolls for 20-30 minutes or until slightly golden brown.* Let cool for a few minutes.
- Frosting: Combine 1 cup powdered sugar and 1-2 Tbsp almond milk.
- Pour frosting over warm vegan cinnamon rolls and serve immediately.
*I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk. You could not taste the vanilla.
*I placed my rolls in a preheated warm oven.
*I ended up with 14 rolls. I stretched the dough to purposely get a couple more.
*Cooking times may vary depending on your oven.