Sunday, 27 July 2014

Quick & Easy Vegan (Yeasted) Cinnamon Buns

Cinnamon Rolls. Cinnamon buns. I won't quibble over specifics - if there's bready goodness with a sweet, creamy, gooey, cinnamony filling - I will be there in a flash. With or without the glaze that makes them totally over the top.

Photo from James' attempt!
I grew up with a single, working Mum who didn't have a lot of spare time. But every now and then, I'd wake up to gorgeous scents floating through the house, jump up excitedly, and run to the kitchen to find that she'd made us cinnamon rolls. 

Now, my Mum was a busy, single working mother, so she didn't have time to mess around with yeast and kneading, so the cinnamon rolls she made were unyeasted - basically, a rolled and filled almost-shortcrust pastry. And they were darn delicious. My mum is actually extremely, horribly allergic to dairy and eggs, so I grew up with cinnamon rolls that were unintentionally vegan, which made returning to them as an adult even easier - they didn't even require any tweaking of the recipe. I still make them sometimes.

Me at approximately 4, baking with my Grandma. Look at my crazy eyes - I loved it.
As I've gotten older, I've also found an equally passionate love of cinnamon buns - which, are obviously more bakery style - and are yeasted, with a silky, tender, puffy, slightly chewy tender dough in place of that creamy almost-shortcrust I grew up with, but are otherwise pretty much the same. The yeasted nature gives them an almost un-explainable umami richness.

I have a Kitchenaid stand-mixer, so pretty much the only thing that stops me making either buns or scrolls is a) the unavoidable rolling-out of the dough and the sprinklings of flour that I know are going to get everywhere and b) the time component.

I'm now learning just to relax, put down a Silpat (silicone baking mat), and spread that flour everywhere, knowing that it won't be hard to clean up afterwards. If I just start, I'll overcome the mental hurdle of hatred of mess. Watching the way Nigella Lawson gleefully gets her hands right into every step of the cooking process has also helped me too. It just takes a quick wipe down and a hand-wash for her to revert to looking pristine. Maybe I could too... Now if only I had her lighting team, and luscious, luscious hair...

A screenshot I took from Nigella's 2005 talk show on dieting, as she announced she was giving the entire audience free Krispy Kreme donuts, because "you mustn't deprive yourself". You've gotta love her.

Getting over this hasn't helped fix the time component for yeasted buns. I'm pretty bad at delaying gratification - so making something and waiting four hours to eat them is akin to slow, painful torture for me. And then, this morning, the Universe smiled down on me, and I saw that my friend Kittee had made quick cinnamon buns, based on the recipe that Somer McCowan of Vedged Out had posted on Instagram. They're yeasted, but only require 10 minutes rising time, thanks to a special ingredient she (and I) had on hand after making Bryanna's palm-oil-free vegan butter, called Liquid Lecithin, an emulsifier and humectant which I've discovered has properties that greatly improve yeasted doughs, and require little or no rising time.

I thought I'd take a punt and give them a try, and they worked out gorgeously. You may still get covered in flour, but at least you won't have to wait. I can't find the recipe on her website, so thought I'd share it here. It's quick, little fuss, and very satisfying. Thanks very much to Somer for pulling this together.

Somer McCowan's Quick & Easy Cinammon Buns, re-written (so blame me, not her!):

1. Preheat your oven to 180 C / 350 F and grease a square or circular baking dish (I used a glass Pyrex pie dish and canola spray).

2. In the bowl of your stand mixer, fitted with the beating paddle, add:
1 cup warm water (not too hot, or you'll kill the yeast)
1 tablespoon instant yeast (I used Lowan brand)
1 tablespoon liquid lecithin (eyeball this, because it's near impossible to get it off either utensils, OR your hands - trust me, it's a very unpleasant feeling to have this all over your hands (James/Bryanna's note: spray the tablespoon with oil before measuring the lecithin and it will slide right off the spoon!))
2.5 cups + 2 tablespoons plain flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
3. Knead for 8-10 minutes, or until smooth and elastic. My dough was pretty touchable, and not sticky.

4. Flour your work area and your rolling pin, and roll the dough out into an 8 x 14 inch rectangle (my silicon mat has inches marked, which is fantastic).

5. Mix together:
1/4 cup softened butter (I'm not going to get into naming wars. Use whatever you use as butter - whether nuttelex, earth balance, or dairy butter - just don't write to me proselytising and raving about how unhealthy butter/margarine is, because I truly don't care. Add salt as needed, if what you're using is unsalted. Salt makes things delicious).
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
6. Spread butter mixture all over the dough, right to the edges (I used a pastry brush)

7. Grasp both edges of the longest length side (bottom of the rectangle), and gently roll it forward, taking care to keep the filling even, until you end up with a cylinder which is spiralled inside. 

8. Cut cylinder into one inch rolls, turn them sideways (spiral visible from above), and place in your greased baking dish. Continue cutting and arranging until complete. I had to squish some of mine up, but that's okay, their will to rise is strong, and they will be fine.

9. Set the dish, packed with yummy buns full of potential in a warm (but not hot) place, to rise for 10 minutes, or until almost doubled (which I admit I forgot to do, I was so eager - and they turned out fine, with no "yeasty" taste).

10. Bake for approximately 20 minutes, until the tops are lightly golden.

They're good as they are, or you can make an icing sugar/butter/milk glaze to drizzle over them if you're feeling really Nigellicious and want your hands dripping with sugar and fat.

Unfortunately, I was pretty slap-dash and devoured half of them like a ravenous beast, so I don't have a photo of the outcome, sorry (not sorry). So here's a photo of my darling Devon Rex cat Sylvia, when she was a baby kitten and I had just brought her home. Today, she's a ferocious beast, but she's still gorgeous.

She's not shy. Work it, girl!

I'm also interesting in hearing about your experiences with liquid lecithin - I've read you can use it to make super fast-rising pizza dough as well. Let me know what you think.
And in the words of Nigella Lawson - "I don't believe in deprivation. Enjoy yourself".



  1. I am only forgiving you the lack of bun photos because your other pics are such high quality.

    1. Cindy find all the pics and the original story here:

  2. You look so cute in that photo!! BTW, I oil the spoon when measuring liquid lecithin and it helps the sticky stuff slip off the spoon more easily.


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