A Better Built Cinnamon Roll

One thing I’ve not totally given up since we’ve transitioned to a plant-based diet is my sweet tooth.  All of my life I’ve just loved sweet foods, especially the real junk foods, like Sour Patch Kids, Swedish Fish,  and Good and Plentys.  Over time, as my tastes have changed from eating a much more healthy diet, however,  I don’t crave sugar like I used to.  I can go days without it, in fact, and I don’t even miss it.

One of the ways that I’ve learned to kick the sugar habit is to follow a short rule laid down in a Facebook post I read.  I regret that I don’t remember the author, or have the exact quote, but the gist of it is:  don’t bring any pre-made snack foods into your home.  You are free to eat the snack foods that you, yourself, make from scratch.  The idea behind this rule is that, if you have to make it yourself, you will be more likely to use more wholesome ingredients, and, since it won’t be a ready source of calories, you’re more likely to consume far less — I can definitely attest to both of these facts, especially the second one – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten a craving for something sweet, late at night, but the thought of having to haul out all of the bowls, measuring cups, ingredients, recipes, put it all together, wait for it to bake or set, and then clean it all up put that craving right to bed!

This morning, I was having a hard time deciding what to make for breakfast.  It was already eighty degrees at 9am, so oatmeal was out of the picture.  I thought about doing something simple, like toast with a large side of fresh fruit from the garden and a smoothie, but that’s exactly what I ate yesterday for breakfast, and there was no way I was going to have that again so soon (I have a thing about eating the same thing twice in a row).

Then, a glorious idea popped into my head…cinnamon rolls.  Everyone in my household adores these things.  Just one problem…I’ve sworn off of the canned ones, and there wouldn’t be time to wait for a true yeast dough to get ready for assembly.  So, I adapted a recipe for buttermilk buns that I found in an old cookbook of mine.  The result?  pretty amazing, if I do say so myself!  I love that there is very little fat, not much sugar, and that the traditional cream cheese or powdered sugar frosting on top has been replaced with 100% spreadable fruit.  It’s definitely a recipe I’ll be making when I get that craving for a good old fashioned cinnamon role, and because it takes some effort to pull together, it’s definitely not going to be something I’ll be making on a daily (or maybe even a weekly or monthly) basis — translation: get it while you can, ’cause you ain’t gonna see these babies  for a while!

Here’s how I made it:


1 tbsp. coconut oil

3 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1 tbsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup rice milk

3 tbsp. ground flax meal mixed in 3/4 cup water

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

2 tsp. ground cinnamon

3 tbsp. brown sugar

100% fruit jam for the topping


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Lightly grease a 13 x 9 x 2 inch pan.  In a small bowl, combine flax meal and water and set aside to “gel” while proceeding with other ingredients.  In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt.  Then, add the coconut oil and mix with a wire whisk until the coconut oil is well incorporated.  Mix in rice milk and flax mixture until it forms a nice dough.

In another small bowl, combine applesauce, cinnamon, and brown sugar, and set aside.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface.  The dough will be very soft and sticky.   Dust the top of the ball of dough with flour, flip over and dust the other side.  Roll dough into a 24″ x 12″ rectangle, sprinkling more flour on the dough, as needed to keep it from sticking to the rolling pin and surface beneath.  I like to roll it out a little, then flip the dough over, flour it a little more, then roll a little more, and repeat that process until I get it to the size I need.

Spread the applesauce mixture over all of the dough – all the way to the edges.

Roll up the long side of the dough (so that you have a 24″ log – or somewhere around that length ;)).  Pinch edges of dough to seal, then cut roll into approximately 1 inch pieces and place into pan.  (I was able to get 15 rolls out of my log).  Don’t worry if they are touching each other – they don’t spread like yeast rolls do.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes (mine took 25), or until light brown on the top.  Remove from oven and immediately top with the 100% fruit jam.  Let cool for a few minutes and enjoy!

What do you think about the idea of only eating snacks that you make yourself?


54 thoughts on “A Better Built Cinnamon Roll

  1. I love the idea of eating only snacks I make myself…but since I’m limited in terms of my creativity, I most often simply turn to a pear or an apple! How did you even know how to create such an amazing cinnamon roll recipe? It would have taken me at least 10 times to perfect the “batter” — but it looks like you nailed it. I’m impressed… 🙂

    • Thank you. I am a much better baker than I am a cook, and I’ve gotten pretty good at being able to adapt recipes that I’m familiar with. I think it’s just a matter of practice, practice, practice. The more you do it, the more familiar you become with ratios and substitutions. Simple doughs, like this one, are definitely the easiest to adapt. Most of the time, truth be told, I turn to a much simpler, snack, like fruit, too. But, when I get a craving for something specific, I just have to have it! 🙂

  2. I think that’s a fantastic idea. I’ve been trying to do that as well but cheat a lot. I need to get back to it! There is a raw food raspberry cake I have been wanting to try but never get around to making. Your rolls sound delicious.

    • It really does make a difference when you only bring wholesome foods into the house and then only eat what you, yourself, make. It helps with the cheating. As with any sweet foods, though, moderation is key. I try to limit my intake of desserts/snack foods to about 10-15% of my overall food intake for the week. To help me stick to that, I just don’t bring any pre-packaged “junk” food into the house, what I do make I try to make as nutrient dense as possible. I love that you are looking into healthier foods and that you are getting back to healthy eating. Blessings!

  3. Mmm sounds yummy. I am fascinated by your diet. I like the idea of making things from scratch, not buying them in.

    I make a lot of smoothies (as a way to get fruit into my daughter) but I also make a lot of cakes, biscuits, cheesecakes etc! I plan to blog these soon. (I’ve only blogged one smoothie and a couple of cakes so far as its mostly a parenting blog)

    Thanks for sharing and congrats on being freshly pressed!

    • Thank you for all of the sweet compliments! I make a lot of smoothies, also. Love them! I don’t normally blog about food, either, since the focus of my blog is mainly about my garden. I was a little surprised to see that this was the post that was freshly pressed! I’d love to see your blog. 🙂

    • There is very little sugar, just three tablespoons of brown sugar in the filling. It is not an overly sweet cinnamon roll, by itself. However, there is more sweetness added by the fruit spread that is put on top, after baking.

  4. It is an interesting idea. At least, it would eliminate a lot of additives and artificial stuff and one can reduce the amount of sugar if so desired. But I can easily pig out on homemade goodies. 🙂
    We have been eating mainly fruit and salad lately.

  5. Sounds yummy. Lately I’ve been baking shortbread and smothering that w/ strawberries and cream and…..grilling peaches and have those warm with cream….oh, man!!

    • Ooooh! About a year ago, I would have been right there with you…pound cake with strawberries and cream…absolutely wonderful. My tastes have totally changed, over about an eight month period, now, though, since embarking on a whole-food, plant based diet challenge, and my body just doesn’t crave those rich foods anymore. I wonder if I would have liked this recipe back then? It would be interesting to see what you think of it. 🙂

  6. This sounds so yummy for one you don’t have to let yeast dough rise.
    I must try this, and I prefer the fruit over the frosting, anyway! Thanks for the share.
    I do like that philosophy, eating what you make and not having processed, ready made junk food in the house. I do so much better if I don’t have it readily available.

    • You are welcome for the share, and, yes! I can’t believe what a difference it has made just not bringing “junk” food into the house. Hope you enjoy the rolls when you make them!

  7. Love the idea of eating less sugar, I´ve been trying this for almost a year. But it is problematic, because if you crave something like cookies or cake, you will have a big batch as soon as you´re done. And then stopping after one piece of gooey/fluffy/sweet deliciousness when you have a whole tray, can prove harder than it may sound…

    • Yes, self-control still needs to be exercised, even with treats that we consider to be “healthy”. I think sugar has been the most difficult thing to cut out of my diet. I know people who have been able to give it up – 100%. That really takes a lot of discipline! Congratulations on working on it for a year! What are you doing to consume less?

      • tbh I kinda have given up on it, because its just too much of a hassle. It´s in so many products, and while I do love cooking/baking, its not practical. Also I didnt find an alternative sweetener that really worked for me. Stevia only gets you so far, and syrups are nothing else than sugar, really. Sweetness of only fruits is just not enough. It´s hard enough to find something vegan to eat on the go…

      • I do think it is really tough to find a good sugar substitute. I always try to use products that are in their natural state, or as close to it as possible. I prefer evaporated cane juice, or sucanat, over refined white sugar, honey over the other syrups that you have mentioned (I still use Agave, sometimes), and dates make a great sugar substitute, also in baking. I think you hit the issue right on the head…cooking and eating this way takes a lot of effort and can often feel like it is just too much of a “hassle”. For me, it is well worth the effort, health wise. I think of it as my health insurance policy. 🙂

  8. That cinnamon roll looks incredible!!! Very nice pic too btw! I must try this recipe. I’m really opened minded when it comes to transforming desserts into something healthier while still preserving the scrumptious flavors!!! This recipe is definitely on my list of things to do.Thanks so much. :o)

    • You are welcome. I hesitate, a little, to post my own recipe creations because I do not consider myself a “cook” by any means. But, I’m happy to know that it’s inspiring others to give something a little bit healthier a try. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

  9. I can really relate to this post. We try not to buy any prepared food, so if I want a treat it needs to be from scratch! Today I was pouting a little bit (it happens) and so I baked a chocolate cake- and ate it (not the whole thing) for dinner. I won’t be doing that everyday either.

    • I prefer dates over raisins, but you are right, those and raisins definitely can satisfy a sweet tooth. I also have a homemade trail mix, with different types of dried fruit and nuts that I keep handy on the counter for snacking on throughout the day. 🙂

  10. It is wonderful to hear of others, like myself, who have opted to eliminate pre-packaged foods. I often have cinnamon roll cravings so this recipe may just do the trick. Thanks!

  11. Forgive me, but….. Ew-w-w-w-w!

    This recipe is trying altogether too hard to be healthy at the expense of the whole raison d’être of a cinnamon bun: to be richly satisfying. The operative word here being “rich.”

    Face it: cinnamon buns aren’t meant to be health food. Of course they’re not something to be consumed every day of the week, but when you do go for it, dammit, go for it.

    I’ll take Ultimate Cinnamon Buns from America’s Test Kitchen/Cook’s Country any day. They require some time and effort, but oh mama are they good. I double the recipe (you need a heavy-duty mixer like the big KitchenAid to do that), make 2 dozen, individually wrap and freeze most of them, and pull one out every now and then as a special treat. With discipline, they last months. http://bit.ly/RF8BUJ

    If you’re going to go through this much effort, you might as well do the real thing.

    • I understand where you’re coming from. Maybe I need to come up with a different name? 🙂
      I, too, love the taste of a “rich” cinnamon roll. However (and I have a host of reasons why) I have given up most of the ingredients that go into the traditional cinnamon roll.
      For me, this recipe allows me to still enjoy the taste of a traditional cinnamon roll, but without the health worries that are associated with the type that I used to make.
      True, it can’t match the “rich taste of the traditional roll, but it still is really yummy (at least I think it is). 🙂

  12. In an ideal world, I would love to live by the “only eat snacks you make yourself” rule, but I don’t know that it is practical to adhere to it 100% of the time.

    I have definitely been making a conscious effort to stick to it though, although I tend to think of it more as junk food and less as snacks. My tastiest success so far has been making my own version of Spaghetti-O’s. Way healthier and tastier than the canned version I ate so often as a child. I need to work on a vegan version of it as well – that would be the ultimate success!

    • It really is difficult to eat healthy 100% of the time, isn’t it? I think the main focus, for me, is to try to bring into the house those food items that are nutritiously dense so that I’m getting the most nutrition, per calorie from the food I eat. I’m not totally against buying pre-made food. I know that there are times when this is going to be the only practical thing to do. I think making that the exception, rather than the rule, though will go a long way towards more healthy eating. I love that you’re working on adapting your favorite foods to a more healthy version! What a great place to start…with the foods that you love! Thanks for sharing.

  13. Gosh I love the story behind this! I totally agree that the best way to stop snacking and eating junk is to only eat it if you’ve made it yourself! Great motto, keep up the good work and congrats on freshly pressed.

    • Thank you. Who knew such a simple rule could help so much? It really has limited the amount of sugar I consume. Now, when I want a quick sugar fix, I just grab a handful of dried dates, or fruit from my garden. I really have to be “in the mood” before I embark upon making something more labor intensive, like this cinnamon roll. 🙂

Share your wonderful thoughts

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s