Breakfast of Champions: Superfood Cinnamon Rolls

So I need to start by apologizing to you. I've been holding out on you! I held off sharing this recipe for months. Luckily for you, t...

So I need to start by apologizing to you. I've been holding out on you! I held off sharing this recipe for months. Luckily for you, these Super(food) Cinnamon Rolls scream FALL so now is the perfect time to bake them. 

Chewy and almost like bread on the outside, warm, sweet and gooey on the inside. Everybody wins here.These cinnamon rolls would make a fantastic breakfast for Thanksgiving weekend, or a lovely brunch on any ordinary weekend.

As far as cinnamon rolls go, these are pretty healthy. Unlike most cinnamon rolls these do not contain any white flour, yeast, butter or refined sugar. They are made with gluten-free whole grain flours like brown rice and amaranth, and are packed with amazing superfood ingredients like quinoa, amaranth, maca powder, chia seeds and flax. Instead of heaps of refined sugar, these rolls are naturally sweetened with dates, raw honey and maple syrup. 
So why do cinnamon rolls need to be so super? Why not, that's why! Making wholegrain cinnamon rolls loaded with energy boosting, anti-inflammatory, mood enhancing, anti-viral and anti-infective superfood ingredients is never a bad idea in my kitchen. And it doesn't hurt that they taste and smell amazing too.

I first made these rolls in the summertime on a unseasonably cold weekend morning. They really hit the spot that day...for me and my husband who helped me polish off all but two of them before sunset. I have been dreaming about them all September as the days get shorter and the temperature drops. 

In highschool there was a Cinnabon shop in the nearest subway station. The smell was totally intoxicating and it was really hard to resist buying one...every day. I really wanted these rolls to blow me away and bring back my fond cinnamon bun memories.These are the first cinnamon rolls I've eaten since going gluten-free and I had pretty high expectations. They needed to live up to my memories of cinnamon rolls. They succeeded.

Because these rolls are gluten free and don't contain any yeast, they don't expand much as they bake. They do expand a little but not in the billowy way a yeasted bread does -- so not quite like the huge Cinnabon cinnamon buns. But never fear! They are really delicious in their own way -- with a thin outer crust shielding the dough's soft and moist interior. 

I attribute a lot of the success of this dough to the baking technique I used and the butter substitute I used. 

I baked these rolls with a combination of baking and steaming and used my homemade vegan shortening (recipe below) in the mixture. I call my butter substitute "shortening" because while it works perfectly in baking recipes for desserts like pie and these cinnamon rolls, I don't recommend using it as a replacement for butter on bread etc.The steam/bake technique and my shortening together give this dough great texture. The shortening is pretty healthy for shortening -- full of superfoods like extra virgin olive oil, chia seeds, raw honey (vegan substitutions included in recipe), cinnamon, flax and raw cacao butter.

The delightful dough wraps around a rich, sweet and buttery (but butter and refined sugar free) caramel-like filling loaded with cinnamon flavor which seeps into the dough like all good cinnamon bun fillings should. Trust me, you'll be licking your fingers.

And now for my controversial statement of the day. These cinnamon buns are so good that they don't even need icing!...Please don't internet-stone me! However if you insist on having one I'm sure it will only improve these rolls. I recommend melting some coconut butter over low heat with a bit of maple syrup and vanilla extract (optional). Drizzle it over the warm buns and devour! Or, do as I do and skip the icing and just eat them all...quickly before they're gone.

Danielle’s Baking Shortening

Makes a great vegan substitute in baking for shortening or butter
                            Not recommended as a replacement for butter on toast.
  • ½ tsp saurkraut brine (for lactic acid)
  • 1/3 cup + 1 tbsp evoo
  • 2 tbsp safflower oil
  • dash coarse sea salt
  • 1 tsp raw honey OR maple syrup or agave nectar or coconut nectar
  • 1 tsp ground flax
  • 1.5 tsp sira
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • squeeze lemon
  • 1 tsp hunk of raw cacao butter
  • 2 tsp vegenaise
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 drop rice wine vinegar
Whisk together all ingredients in a saucepan over medium low heat until mixture becomes opaque and like a curd (think lemon curd with a white color). Transfer to small airtight container and freeze to set.
Store in the fridge.

Super(food) Cinnamon Rolls
(gluten-free, vegan, soy-free, nut-free, whole-grain)
Part I:
  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • 1 cup amaranth flour
  • 1/3 cup quinoa flakes
  • 2 tbsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp ground flaxseed
  • dash coarse sea salt
  • 4 small pitted dates (about 30g)
Add to food processor and blend thoroughly.
Part II:

  • 1 tbsp evoo
  • 2 tsp Danielle's shortening (recipe follows) OR virgin coconut oil OR vegan shortening
  • 1 tsp raw honey OR maple syrup or agave nectar or coconut nectar
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 1.5 tbsp pear sauce
  • 1/2 tsp brown rice vinegar
Add and blend thoroughly. The dough should look like light brown sugar.
Part III:
  • 1 tbsp vegenaise
  • 1/3 cup ice water
Add and blend thoroughly, drizzling the water slowly to incorporate.
Part IV:
  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour
  • 1 tbsp pear sauce
Add the brown rice flour and pear sauce and blend thoroughly until the mixture starts to pull into a dough. Turn out onto a long sheet of parchment paper. Roll out to a large rectangle between 2 sheets of parchment. If you have trouble, stop now and then to tear off the odd shaped edges. Press the torn pieces gently into the areas of the dough that are full of gaps. Top the dough with the second sheet of parchment and roll to patch the dough.

Super(|food) Cinnamon Rolls
(vegan, gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free)
  • 1 1/4 cup pitted dates
  • 1 tbsp raw honey OR maple syrup or agave nectar or coconut nectar
  • 3 tsp maple syrup
  • dash coarse sea salt
  • 2.5 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • 2 tsp flaxmeal
  • 1 tsp evoo
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup water
Add all ingredients to food processor and blend thoroughly until smooth, stop occasionally to scrape sides and blend again.

Super(food) Cinnamon Rolls
  • Rolled out dough (recipe and instructions above)
  • Prepared filling (recipe and instructions above)
  • 1 tsp evoo
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 1x 9” baking pan (round)
  • Parchment Paper
  • Lid from large roasting pan
Spread the filling mixture evenly over the centre of the dough, ensuring about 1 inch of bare dough all around. Drizzle 1 tsp evoo over the date filling. Drizzle 1 tsp maple over the date paste.
Roll the dough from short end to short end to form a long log.
Using your hands, gently shape the log, if the dough has cracked, delicately squeeze it to try and patch it but don’t worry if it doesn’t work well (my dough cracked and the rolls came out great anyway).
Using a clean and dry knife, slice the log into rolls (all the way through width-wise), slicing every 2 inches or so down the log. Grab a 9 inch round baking pan. Line it with a parchment paper sheet ( I reused the top sheet from rolling the dough for this).
Arrange the sliced pieces of the log evenly in the pan (spiral side up), they don’t need to touch each other.
Bake in oven that has been preheated to 350F for 15 minutes.
After the 15 minutes take the pan out of oven and add about 2 tsp warm water over the top of each roll. Put back into the oven and continue to bake for another 3-5 minutes. There should be some water simmering in between each roll. Grab a large baking lid ( I used a lid from a large roasting pan) and cover the 9 inch baking pan completely. This is to steam the rolls. , Continue to bake covered with the large lid for 5 minutes.
Uncover, the rolls will be soft and slightly underdone. Continue to bake uncovered for 5 minutes. Enjoy these rolls while they are fresh from the oven, after letting them cool slightly on the stove-top for a few minutes.

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