Who's ready for some GLUTEN?! Heck yes. Gimme' dat.
My guess is that you may be wondering why a healthy-living, plant-based food blogger is posting a recipe for sugary, floury cinnamon rolls. I wondered, too, if I should modify the recipe into something more along the lines of paleo or maybe even gluten-free. Wouldn't that align more with my values on this blog? Hmm...
Well, my values and my views of "health" have shifted in the recent weeks. I kind of want to say that they've "grown up" a little bit; let me explain why.
My previous struggles with food warped my perception of it and stole from me the joy I found in cooking and eating. Finally, when I found the first tastes of recovery, I found that my perception strictly limited me and I no longer wanted to trade in a warm, sweet, doughy scone just to keep a chiseled six-pack (it was there once, and it was fleeting). Read more about throwing away perfection here. I felt like I could breathe again and savor each bite of that buttery scone without meticulously counting each crumb's calorie.
The limits quietly crept in again when I chose veganism. Animal rights, environmental sustainability, and a few extra healthy benefits distracted me from realizing that not every bakery is on the same page as I am in all of this, which means fewer buttery scones to be savored (and photographed and Instagrammed and attempted to be replicated like this one). But I was fine with that because, weighing the pros and cons and the difference in importance between animal rights + environmental sustainability + a few extra health benefits vs. my enjoyment of said buttery scone seemed obviously leaning more towards the former. I wanted to save the world - the scone could wait.
Here I am now - seeeeeeriously craving another scone. And a batch of REAL cinnamon rolls. Not paleo. Not gluten-free or sugar-free or portioned to be the size of my thumb. Give me the damn fluffy, sweet, (vegan) buttery breakfast beauty I deprived myself of for years. Wow - years? In that case, give me the entire damn tray!
Okay, wait don't do that. I will eat them all, not even joking. If you follow along on my Instragram stories, you probably look forward to Tuesdays almost as much as I do, right? Cooking lab day! This past week, my group and I blew ourselves away with a batch of cinnamon rolls (perhaps the very inspiration for this recipe, eh?) and I practically got down on my knees, vowing to myself and the gods of sweet baked breakfast goods that I would never - I repeat: NEVER - try to squeeze such a luscious dish into the paleo/refined-sugar-free/gluten-free/whatever-free category ever again. Like, really.
Just don't. If you want cinnamon rolls that do fall into one of those un-fluffy categories, this ain't the place to be. These DO have gluten and sugar and vegan butter. Oh, and yes, they're still vegan because I'm still vegan and therefore still hold values regarding animal rights + environmental sustainability + a few extra health benefits. But I triple-pinky-promise you that you won't even know they're vegan.
My mouth is watering just thinking about these rolls, so I won't keep you any longer. I do, however, want to leave you with one thing: IT'S OKAY to eat non-whole-food, non-refined-sugar-free, non-gluten-free cinnamon rolls. In fact, I think it's probably better - healthier - to eat the "real" thing sometimes over the one you might think is healthier. I'm not saying you should make this your everyday breakfast with a side of bacon and eggs, but I AM saying that these cinnamon rolls are healthy for the mind, comforting for the soul...
... and just. freakin'. good.
And I leave you with that. Onto the recipe!
Makes 8 rolls
2 tbsp vegan butter, plus extra for greasing, melted (Earth Balance)
1 small banana
1 cup almond milk (easy homemade recipe here)
3 cups white whole-wheat flour, plus extra rolling
1 packet yeast
3 tbsp coconut sugar
¼ cup hot water
4 dates, soaked in hot water for 30 mins
2 heaping tbsp. peanut butter (NuttZo, duh)
1 tbsp. cinnamon
Coconut cream icing:
1 can full-fat coconut milk, refrigerated overnight
2 tbsp. powdered sugar
Vanilla extract, optional
Combine the flour, yeast, and sugar in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, stir together the vegan butter, banana, hot water and almond milk until combined. Pour the wet into the dry and mix thoroughly until the dough is no longer sticky. You may need to add flour by the tbsp. to dry out the dough, but I didn’t have to.
Transfer dough to a lightly buttered glass bowl and allow it to rise for 1-2 hours (I did two and it was HUGE, which is what you want).
Preheat oven to 350 F and grease an 8x4 baking pan.
Lightly flour a flat surface and knead the dough for 2-3 minutes. Roll out into a large rectangular or square-ish shape about a ½-inch thick.
Spread the filling evenly over the dough, keeping it within about ½-inch from the edge of the dough.
Carefully lift one end and roll inward to make a log. Lightly butter the edge of a sharp knife and carefully slice the log into rolls (mine were about the height of the pan in which I baked them). Transfer the rolls into the greased baking pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the dough is golden brown. Do not underbake!
Remove the pan from the oven and let cool completely.
For the coconut cream icing, scoop the thick coconut cream from the top of the can, careful not to scoop any of the water (you can save the water to drink or add to smoothies). Add the coconut cream and powdered sugar to a bowl and mix on high-speed until smooth and fluffy.
Spread icing over each roll and serve immediately. Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to one week.