Thursday, March 29, 2012

Vegan Cinnamon Buns Made Easy and Delicious...

Before Baking

As I mentioned yesterday, I woke Tuesday morning with the desire to make cinnamon buns. What sparked this sudden interest you might ask? Well it was one of the new - to me - cook books that I picked up last week. Sweet Vegan by Emily Mainquist is full of wonderfully delicious looking recipes, but it was the cinnamon buns - or rolls as she calls them - that first caught my eye.

After Rolling - Before Baking - The end bits always look a bit loose

I have never in my life made a cinnamon bun/roll. Not a vegan one, and not a non-vegan one. Though I do adore these sweet, gooey, cinnamony treats - especially when warm - I haven’t actually had one in years. After all vegan cinnamon buns aren’t exactly easy to come by, especially here, not even in vegan friendly bakeries. Though I own several vegan cook books that include recipes for vegan cinnamon buns or rolls, it had never quite occurred to me before that this was something I could make myself. Even with a recipe in hand, I didn’t think myself capable of such a feat. I mean lets be real here, cinnamon buns just look difficult! They look complicated and involved and I never thought my culinary skills were up to the challenge. Part of that mind-set has to do with the fact that I often find my eyes glazing over at lengthy recipe instructions. Even though I love to cook, and bake a recipe full of steps and detailed instructions often has me groaning and turning the page.

After Rolling - Before Baking

There also just seems to be something about bread for me, that puts me kind of on edge and I don’t know why. I’ve baked all kinds of different breads in the past. Sweet breads, savory breads, seedy breads. I’ve used a bread machine, a food processor, and I’ve done it the old fashioned way with just my hands, and virtually every time my homemade bread comes out wonderful, but it’s always a process. All that kneading, resting, and rising!

All ready to be popped into the oven!

Yet despite all my reservations, and my feelings of inadequacy there was just something about Emily’s recipe that got me salivating. In truth I can’t say that I’ve actually missed or longed for a cinnamon bun over the past couple of years. I can’t in fact think of an occasion where I’ve thought of them at all, but there was just something about that recipe that got me craving cinnamon buns, and I became determined to try my hand at it. Aside from a desire to eat a gooey cinnamony treat I can’t say what possessed me to challenge my skills in this way. Perhaps it was the fact that the recipe was only five steps and the first step consisted of the sentence "Preheat your oven to 350'." Meaning there were really only four steps. Or maybe it was the helpful pictures detailing each step that accompanied the recipe. In any case I guess I thought "How hard can it be really?" and "If it really does go tits up what does it matter anyway?" I’d only be out a few dollars worth of flour and sugar and maybe an hour of my time. It seemed a small risk for a potentially great reward.

I learned a few interesting things while making these cinnamon buns Tuesday morning. 1) Cinnamon buns are not as hard as you think to make. 2) They are a bit of a process though. 3) They are almost entirely made of sugar. I don’t know what I previously thought cinnamon buns were made of but I’ll admit I was shocked, absolutely shocked at how much sugar goes into them. 1 ½ Cups worth in the dough itself. Another 1-1 ½ Cups worth into the filling and she says to use 4 ½ Cups in the Cream Cheese Frosting! but I just couldn’t. I think I ended up using somewhere between 2 ½ - 3 Cups which is still a ridiculous amount, and far more then I would ever normally feel the need to use. So yeah, a ton of sugar. 4) Make sure you roll your dough nice and tight. 5) Be careful not to over bake even for a minute. 6) They are most definitely worth every minute of the effort you put into them. 7) Make sure you invite some friends over to eat them otherwise you’ll make yourself sick or go into a sugar coma.

Before Baking

And that about sums up what I learned. As for the actual process itself, it is indeed much easier then it appears. You make your dough, which I did in my food processor. You roll it into a ball, place it in a greased bowl and let it rise. Then you roll it out evenly. - This is harder then I thought it would be. I’ll admit my dough was a tad thicker in the middle then it was around the edges but oh well. - Spread your filling overtop, roll the whole thing up nice and tight like a sushi maki. - Again slightly more difficult then it appears since you have no convenient bamboo sushi mat to help guide you. - Slice It into rounds, let it rest and then bake them. While you bake you make the frosting, pull the buns out when they’re done, let ‘em cool slightly then frost those babies and munch away while they’re still warm. Definitely not as hard as it looks right? If you get up at eight you can have the whole thing done, including kitchen clean up and be stuffing your face with sweet cinnamony goodness by ten.

Fresh out of the oven!

The only problem I encountered was that after the 15 minute bake time my cinnamon buns were not a nice golden brown. I had to cook them a bit longer before they turned golden. Also some of the filling seeped out of the buns along the bottom of my baking sheet and some of that got burnt and made a few of the buns crispy on the bottom. I don’t know if this happened because my cinnamon rolls weren’t tight enough or if it was because of my old, cranky oven and having to cook the buns longer. In either case the buns tasted delicious, even the ones with the crispy bottoms.

Can't wait to eat one!

While I was making these cinnamon buns I found myself thinking a lot about my dad. There was a time when I was younger where my dad used to make cinnamon buns a lot, particularly on the weekends. They were delicious, cinnamony, perfectly soft and the absolute best thing when eaten warm out of the oven. I remember watching him make them when I was younger but I can’t recall the details now of what he put into those cinnamon buns. In any case they were most definitely not vegan, they were however amazing. I barely remember now what they tasted like, it was so, so many years ago, but I don’t remember them being anywhere near as sweet as these ones were. Nor do I remember my dad ever frosting his cinnamon buns, not at least with a gooey cream cheese sort of frosting. I remember his being a bit more traditional, plain and simple and if they were frosted they were probably done so simply as well. It was a nice memory. Thinking of my old house, and our old kitchen. Sitting there on a sunny Saturday afternoon just the two of us, me watching him make cinnamon buns.

Finally! They're frosted and Ready!

When I finally sat down to the table to eat one, I couldn’t help but wonder after my first bite if he would like my version. I certainly did, as did my husband, and the friends we shared them with, and my father-in-law who paid me the highest compliment. When I asked him if he’d liked it he said "Oh yes!" and then. "I could barely tell the difference between it and a Cinnabon." Cinnabon, for those of you who don’t know is sort of like a doughnut shop except it specializes in and almost exclusively sells cinnamon buns. Though they originated in Seattle, Washington, for some reason they are the be all and end all of cinnamon buns to most of the Chicagoans I know. To have a non-vegan Cinnabon loving Chicagoan tell me my cinnamon bun was just as good is definitely high praise.


So if you really want some good cinnamon buns then pick up Emily Mainquist’s "Sweet Vegan" and give yourself the benefit of the doubt. They really are not as difficult as they may appear.

Double Yum!!

PS: Remember to check back tomorrow for my post about woman’s health! I’m very, very excited to share it with you all.

Who could resist a second?


  1. Okay now these look Fantastic, if they taste half as good as they look they must be FANTASTIC!!! Good job! S.T.

    P.S. I never imagined being vegan and still be able to eat all the things that you post..who knew vegans and vegetarians had so many options...your recipes are AMAZING!!!

  2. These were SO fantastic!!! Man, those were awesome pictures & they just made my mouth salivate. I wish I had some right now. & what's wrong w/ devouring all of them yourself? I totally would! haha
    & as a former Cinnabon lover, I agree that they are just as good as theirs. Thanks for making them!