Wednesday, January 23, 2013

WIAW | Gluten-Free, Vegan Cinnamon Rolls

I've been anxiously waiting for Wednesday to come so that I could share this recipe with you. While I'd really love to share a batch of these with a cup of hot tea, that seemed a little harder to do. While I first created this recipe as the start to a Christmas morning tradition, I didn't feel that I had gotten it quite right. But now, after a few alterations, I am here to share with you a recipe for hot, fluffy, classic cinnamon rolls... only without the wheat, eggs or dairy.

If you're new to this link-up, What I Ate Wednesday is hosted weekly by Jenn at Peas and Crayons. The idea is to share a days worth of eats. While I'm a bit embarrassed to admit it, these cinnamon rolls made up a whole day of eats for us on Saturday. We woke up unusually early and with an immense pile of homework, I couldn't think of anything better to do with the extra time than bake these.

In total, this recipe takes at least an hour and a half. I find it easiest to make the dough early in the morning and then allow it to rise while I take care of some weekend chores, like laundry. When I first made this recipe, I prepared the dough and roll at night, baking it the next morning. Though they were still delicious, the rolls weren't quite as fluffy and light that way.

Before going gluten-free, I had never imagined making cinnamon rolls from scratch. After all, Pillsbury was the standard in our house. That being said, homemade cinnamon rolls are not nearly as difficult or as daunting as they seem to be and I truly enjoy eating baking them.


2 Tablespoons of Earth Balance All Natural Spread
1/4 Cup of White Sugar
2/3 Cup of Almond Milk
1 Packet of Fleischmann's Active Dry Yeast
1 Flax Egg (1 Tbsp of Flax Meal + 3 Tbsp of Water)
1/4 Cup of Canola Oil
1 1/2 to 2 Cups of Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Power from Bob's Red Mill
1/4 Tsp of Baking Soda
2 Teaspoons of Xanthum Gum
2 Teaspoons of Baking Powder
1/2 Teaspoon of Salt
2 Teaspoons Vanilla

1/2 Cup of Light Brown Sugar
2 Tablespoons of Cinnamon


For best results, mix your flax meal and water prior to starting the recipe. Flax eggs work best when allowed to rest in the refrigerator for ten to fifteen minutes.

Warm 2/3 cup of almond milk to 100 - 110 degrees. This temperature is very important and I strongly suggest using a thermometer to ensure that your milk is not overheated, as hot milk will kill the yeast. Dissolve one packet of active drive yeast in the milk and allow it to bubble for ten minutes. While the yeast bubbles, sift together 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder, xanthum gum and salt.

After the yeast has had time to dissolve properly, combine the almond milk with the sugar, butter, oil and vanilla. After combining thoroughly, add the flax egg and stir until evenly mixed. At this point, begin slowly adding the dry ingredients to the wet. Your dough will be sticky but if it appears too wet, feel free to slowly add additional flour to make it easier to work with.

Because of the yeast, you will need to remove the dough from the mixing bowl and place it in a greased dish to allow the dough to rise for approximately one hour. It is best to put the dough in a warm spot and during the Montana winter, I've found the best option to be our fire place mantle. While the dough rises, feel free to get your filling ready by mixing the brown sugar and cinnamon. Traditional recipes call for a lot of softened butter but I find it isn't necessary, especially for frosted rolls.

As I said, I typically walk away from the dough to work on other projects and so I choose not to preheat my oven right away. You will want it to be at 400 degrees prior to baking, though.

When the dough has risen, prepare a work surface with two sheets of parchment paper at least a foot long in each direction. Place the dough between the sheets and roll it to about 1/4" thick. Try to keep the dough straight at the ends, feel free to rework the dough until you get a shape you are comfortable rolling.

Remove the top sheet of parchment paper and sprinkle the brown sugar and cinnamon mixture liberally on the dough, leaving an inch-long strip bare at the far end of the square. You will have leftover mixture and this can be placed in the bottom of your glass baking dish. 

I find it easiest to start the roll with my fingers and then continue using the parchment paper. Try to roll as tightly as possible. When you reach the end, the bare dough will allow you to "seal" your roll. Then, using a serrated knife, cut the roll into 8 pieces. To ensure even sized rolls, I find it easiest to cut in the center and continue cutting each piece in half. Place the cinnamon rolls in a greased glass pie dish and bake for 18 - 22 minutes or until rolls are firm on the outside and golden brown on top.

While the rolls bake, I prepare a simple frosting. Though the rolls themselves are vegan, I personally chose to make a classic cream cheese frosting for myself. Trevor enjoys his rolls plain and therefore I can justify the dairy. If you'd like to keep the recipe completely vegan or dairy-free, a simply glaze can be created using almond milk - simply add confectioners sugar and beat with an electric mixer until you reach a frosting consistency.

These have become a quick breakfast favorite in our home since eggs and pancakes are no longer easy options. While I'd like to think that a batch of cinnamon rolls could be made to last through the week, we can't stay away from them and like I said, they are usually gone within the day. If you are too busy to invest time in making cinnamon rolls regularly, feel free to match two batches at once, freezing half.
Is there one food you truly miss eating, or perhaps a whole list? A recipe that you wish could be easily transformed to be gluten-free, vegan, or both? While cinnamon rolls were always on that list for me, I've been on a mission to create allergy-friendly breakfast items for Trevor to take to work. I think doughnuts are next on my baking bucket list.


  1. Wow, I have never even attempted cinnamon rolls from scratch. Lately I've been more adventurous in the kitchen (maybe I'm getting old, since now I consider cooking adventurous?) So I will have to try this. Xantham gum you can just find in the baking aisle? In general, do you prefer flax eggs over arrowroot or applesauce?

    1. Xanthum gum is a binder that used for gluten-free flours - you usually have to look in the gf section but occasionally it is with the regular baking supplies. You could also try the recipe with regular all purpose flour, excluding the gum.

      As for flax vs. applesauce, I prefer flax in things that require structure - such as these rolls which have to maintain their shape. The nutty flavor or flax also works well in the taste. I tend to get puffier thicker cookies with flax, too. When I bake cakes/cupcakes, especially white or yellow, I use applesauce though because the nutty flax flavor is too much and the applesauce adds a nice taste and moisture to the mix. I'm still learning a lot about egg-less baking, though!

      But this recipe is definitely worth trying. My new favorite, by far.