All of these tips are integrated into my recipe below so feel free to skip! However, reading through these tips will help you to understand how to make the perfect buns every time, and how to troubleshoot mistakes!
Moist dough: The dough should be moist, but not overly sticky. You will not add as much flour as if you were making pizza or bread dough. I have found that about a 3:1 flour:milk (almond milk of course) ratio is perfect for cinnamon rolls.
Proof the yeast! A cooking thermometer is very useful when working with yeast. They are very cheap ($10 on Amazon). The perfect temperature for proofing yeast is between 105-110F and that is pretty hard to distinguish with your finger! I have learned first hand that this makes a huge difference. I have found that yeast proofs the best at 110F. Even visually, you can see dramatic differences in how the yeast activates if you are just 10 degrees off. If the liquid is too hot, then you kill the yeast. You'll want to activate your yeast properly to get those beautiful fluffy buns.
Don't try to make them too healthy: If you want to eat something healthy, go with a completely different dish (like many you will find on this site). If you try to skimp on the butter you will end up with dried out, tough buns. If you try to skimp on the sugar you won't get to that warm, satisfying, cinnabun flavor! These buns are of much higher quality than your average cinnabun though. I've only used as much butter as needed, and I went with a cashew based icing which is both extremely satisfying and different than anything you'd find in stores.
3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup almond milk
2 1/4 tsp. quick rising yeast
3 tbsp. melted vegan butter - "I Can't Believe it's not Butter" just came out with a vegan version, I much prefer it to Earth Balance!
3 tbsp. white sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. vegan butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 heaping tbsp. cinnamon
1/3 cup vegan butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 tbsp. agave or other thick syrup
1 cup raw cashews - Soak 8 hours unless using high powered blender
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
Pinch of vanilla powder or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Proofing the yeast:
Add 1 cup of almond milk to a microwave safe container and heat to 110F. In my microwave this takes about 75 seconds on high. Use a food thermometer to check the temperature. If you do not have a thermometer, the milk should be on the warmer side, but not so warm that you cannot hold your finger in the liquid. If you accidentally heat the milk to much, whisk in the sugar (Step 2) and wait for it to cool down before adding yeast. Liquid that is too hot will kill the yeast. Alternatively, the milk can be heated on the stove. - It is highly recommended that you purchase a food thermometer for proofing yeast for your cinnabuns, breads, pizza dough, etc.
Dissolve sugar into the milk and whisk.
Add yeast to this mixture and whisk.
Let sit for about 15 minutes, or until the liquid gets noticeably frothy. When heated correctly my mixture doubles in size with froth from the yeast.
Melt vegan butter in the microwave or on the stove. - You'll only want to heat this until the butter melts and no more. Butter that is too hot will scorch the yeast.
Transfer yeast mixture to a large bowl, whisk in melted butter and salt.
Add flour 1 cup at a time and stir with large spoon.
Continue to add flour and stir with spoon, until you need to use your hands.
Knead dough until the dough becomes workable. Only knead until ingredients are well incorporated and no more! - The dough will more on the moist side and a bit sticky.
Cover the bowl with cling wrap or a damp towel and let sit at room temperature for 45 minutes or until doubled in size.
Forming the Rolls:
Remove the dough from the container and add a generous amount of flour to the dough and your work surface to prevent sticking.
Using a rolling pin, flatten the dough into a horizontal rectangle until it is about 1/2 inch thick. - Rub the dough with more flour if it starts to stick too much to the counter.
Leave about a inch of dough at the top of your rectangle untouched by butter, sugar, or cinnamon.
Rub melted vegan butter into the dough.
Add a even layer of brown sugar to the dough. Be generous, roughly a 1/3 - 1/2 cup.
Add a generous layer of cinnamon, roughly 1 heaping Tbsp.
Starting at the bottom, roll the dough into a log.
To complete your roll, wet your fingers and carefully wet the edges of the dough and pinch together. This should hold your log together.
Slice log into about 2 inch pieces with a serrated knife. If you do not have a serrated knife use a piece of floss to wrap and "slice" each piece.
Place the uncooked rolls in a baking pan with enough space between them to allow them to expand.
At this stage, you'll want to preheat your oven to 375F.
Add butter, sugar, and agave to a saucepan on the stove. Turn stove to medium low heat. Stir, and once dissolved pour this mixture over your buns. - You should have noticed that your buns rose a little bit during the time it took to prep the goo, this is a necessary part of the process so don't rush the goo. About 10 minutes rising time is good.
Pour the cinna-goo over the buns. After all of the goo is in the pan, pick up each bun to make sure that some goo gets underneath to prevent sticking.
Put your buns into the oven, and then watch them like a hawk! Set your timer to 12-14 minutes. Bake them until the tops are just slightly golden brown.
Remove from the oven and allow them to cool, they finish cooking as they cool.
*Note: Buns bake the best when you place them close enough yet far enough apart in the pan that they are able to touch while rising.
Blend icing ingredients in high powered blender or food processor.
Splash in almond milk until the mixture reaches a sauce consistency.
Add icing to buns once they are cool.
If you have done everything right, your buns should be fluffy, moist, and SO DELICIOUS 😋
I store these in an air-tight container in the refrigerator and reheat them briefly in the microwave (about 20 seconds on high). If your buns have dried out a bit, sprinkle some water on top before microwaving. Feel free to heat them at low heat in a toaster over as well. I tested these and they do freeze well. To eat after freezing, defrost in refrigerator and then use one of the heating methods mentioned above.
When heating these from frozen I heated them for a few minutes in the oven at 350 until the tops browned slightly, then I finished heating the middle with 30 seconds in the microwave.
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