We've probably all stared at some delicious cinnamon rolls at one point in our lives. Swirls of soft dough speckled with warm cinnamon and drizzled with luscious frosting. I mean, is there anything more tempting? Find out how to make a healthier version.
Hello! Before we start, I’m Olivia, an Instagram blogger @fitfoodness where I have been cooking up a healthy storm for more than five years. Natural and wholesome ingredients always take centre stage. Now let’s get straight into our luscious cinnamon rolls.
I stared at (and gobbled down) those pastries more times than I can count and I intend to continue that tradition going forward.
But recently I decided to convert my passion for cinnamon rolls to the kitchen and fire up my KitchenAid. The goal: to create a healthier version, without refined white sugar, without wheat flour and totally vegan.
The result, I must warn you… is seriously addictive. My neighbours who tested multiple batches can confirm this. I thought at some point they would push the pause button, but they gratefully kept munching away every batch I threw at them.
This recipe uses coconut sugar as an alternative to white sugar. Coconut sugar is great because the texture resembles sugar so it’s an easy swap for a lot of recipes. The flavour works wonderfully paired with cinnamon. Read more about coconut sugar and other sugar alternatives here. For the filling I added unsweetened apple sauce, which makes the rolls less dry, adds more tart sweetness and is just plain delicious.
The flour is made of 100% spelt flour. Because I like my ingredient list to be short, I use regular spelt flour, but I have also tried a mix of wholegrain spelt and regular spelt (50/50) and obtained great results.
For the frosting I used a mix of coconut yoghurt and cashews with agave syrup to sweeten it up. Agave has a neutral flavour and has a light colour, so it won’t make your drizzle too brownish. Now let’s get baking, shall we.
Recipe: Luscious and super easy cinnamon rolls without refined sugar
For the dough
• 1 cup (240ml) almond milk
• ¼ cup (50g) coconut oil
• 3 tbsp (30g) coconut sugar
• 1 pack (7g) active dry yeast
• 3 - 3.5 cups (400g - 450g) spelt flour
• ½ tsp salt
• ½ tbsp cinnamon
For the filling
• ¼ cup (60g) unsweetened applesauce
• ½ cup (70g) coconut sugar
• 2 tbsp cinnamon (or go for 1.5 tbsp cinnamon + ½ tbsp ground cardamom)
For the frosting
• ½ cup coconut yoghurt
• ¼ cup soaked cashews (soaked in cold water the day before, or in warm water for at least 2 hours).
• 3 tbsp almond milk
• 1 tbsp agave syrup
• ¼ tsp vanilla extract
• ¾ tsp lemon juice
• Pinch of salt
1/ Grease a large cake pan (one that can fit 10-12 cinnamon rolls) with a bit of coconut oil. You can use a spring cake tin or an ovenproof cast-iron pan for this as well.
2/ Add almond milk and coconut oil to a microwave-safe bowl, and heat. Let it cool until you reach around 40C. Too warm and the yeast will not survive.
3/ Sprinkle the yeast evenly over the warm mixture and let sit for 10 minutes.
4/ Add the coconut sugar, salt and cinnamon and whisk. Add this mixture to the bowl of your KitchenAid mixer with the dough hook attached.
5/ Now little by little, add the flour. Knead on low speed, regularly checking the texture of the dough. It will be sticky in the beginning but keep kneading until the dough just comes together in a loose ball and doesn’t stick to the sides of the bowl anymore. It’s possible that you will have to add a little bit more or a little bit less flour.
6/ Transfer dough to a floured kitchen counter, rinse and then grease the bowl with a little oil to prevent sticking. Add your dough back to the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel and put away in a warm spot to rise until it has doubled in size (about 1 hour).
7/ Meanwhile prepare the frosting: mix all the ingredients on high speed until smooth and put in the fridge to set. If it stiffens up too much, add a splash of almond milk.
8/ Prepare your filling: combine apple sauce with spices and sugar and set aside.
9/ Once the dough has risen, transfer to a floured surface and roll it out into a thin rectangle (about ½ cm thickness).
10/ Coat generously with the apple sauce mix.
11/ Roll up the dough: start at one long end and gently roll up. End with the seam-side down. The apple-saucing-and-rolling process can get messy but don’t worry, they’ll turn out beautiful once they’re out of the oven.
12/ With a sharp or serrated knife, cut the dough into 4cm pieces. Add to your greased baking pan with a bit of breathing room in between. Cover with plastic wrap or kitchen towel and let rise for 30 min.
13/ Preheat oven to 180°C
14/ Brush the rolls with almond milk and add to the preheated oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden (slightly undercooked is the texture we’re going for).
5/ Remove the rolls from the oven and let cool in the pan for a few minutes. Drizzle with frosting. Top with chopped walnuts if you so desire.
16/ Serve while still warm. If you do have leftovers (savage), you can save them in the fridge for 3 days. I’d recommend not frosting them yet, that way you can easily reheat them for a few minutes in the oven.
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