Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Christmas Cinnamon Rolls, Guilt Free
It's been interesting to see my fav veg blogs post recipes for beautiful Christmas cookies. I am so glad they are posting them, because I haven't made a single cookie. Not one during this Christmas season.
It took me a while to figure out what was wrong with me...Ash, why aren't you making any cookies?! And then I realized, Oh, (picture the Fiddler on The Roof, and Tevia shouting) TRADITION!
All growing up it was our family tradition to have cinnamon rolls for Christmas breakfast. One of my favorite parts of Christmas, for sure. When we got to be a little older, and realized just how much work my parents went to in order to make Christmas the biggest event of the year, my oldest sister and I took over on Christmas cinnamon-roll-making-duty.
Then, we all got lazy, and decided to turn to Rhodes. Ah, Rhodes Cinnamon Rolls from the frozen foods section. Yummy stuff.
I usually ate about three or four of them...Once I start eating something delicious, I really cant seem to stop. When I got old enough to realize what I was doing to myself, and recognized that they made me feel sick, I also started realizing how guilty I felt after eating so many cinnamon rolls.
Seriously, how do you feel after sitting down to a Cinnabon cinnamon roll at the mall, and consuming the entire confection?
Like running a marathon?
Like shouting for joy?
Right. Me either. I feel like a big fat bump on a log. Someone ROLL me down the hall because I just ate a year's worth of fat and junk in five minutes. But then, despite how I feel physically, I really feel like I wouldn't mind eating another one. Yeah, that's me.
Every time I eat one of these delicious, marvelous, oil and dairy free cinnamon rolls, they taste so good to me, that my cinnamon-roll-eating guilt returns.
I start quizzing myself.
Okay, I should feel guilty because...let's see these have no oil in them...no butter, no eggs, no cream, no dairy...and they are made with whole grain flours...I know there has got to be something in these warm, ooey, gooey, SIN-namon rolls that I should feel guilty about!
I'm healing. How about you? Learning to not feel guilty because I enjoy my food.
After all, I'm pretty sure Christmas is supposed to be all about joy.
Christmas Cinnamon Rolls
Adapted from Seven Secrets Cookbook
One Loaf Bread (The Dough)
This bread recipe is the right amount for one loaf, and works in most bread machines. This recipe can be used to make bread, pita pockets, pizza crust, and in our case, cinnamon rolls. Oil and dairy free never tasted so good!
As to which types of flour you choose, I have made these with half unbleached all-purpose, and half white whole wheat, all white whole wheat, and with completely all-purpose flour. Each version raised well and tasted great. If you are going for a healthy breakfast, choose either half whole wheat and white, or all white whole wheat. If you are going for a very dessert-y, copycat Cinnabon mall experience, use only unbleached, all-purpose flour.
Use either date paste, or brown rice syrup and sugar filling, depending on your preference. I also provide two different types of icings, or you can simply pour maple syrup on top of your roll for a more " cinnamon roll pancake" type of breakfast experience. My kids and I prefer the brown rice syrup filling, with the cream cheese icing.
1 1/4 cups warm water
2 tablespoons applesauce
2 tablespoons honey (or agave nectar)
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups whole wheat bread flour (I find that white whole wheat flour works best)
1 tablespoon gluten flour
1 tablespoon dough conditioner (optional, I didn't have any)
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1.Place ingredients in bread machine container according to manufacturer's instructions. Once the bread maker has completed it's full cycle, roll the dough out into a long rectangle. Apply a thin layer of filling (see below, either date spread, or brown rice syrup mixture) over the surface, leaving 1/4 inch along one long edge free of spread.
2. Sprinkle entire surface liberally with cinnamon. Optionally, you can also sprinkle it with raisins, or other dried fruits and/or chopped nuts of your choice. We like it best without anything added except the filling. Roll up the long way like a jelly roll, and pinch the seam closed.
3. Cut 1-inch rolls by cutting all the way through with a sharp knife or kitchen shears. Place rolls with cut side up on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, shaping into a circle. Let rise, covered with a damp towel, in a warm place for about an hour or until doubled.
4. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Lightly brush tops with pure maple syrup or cream cheese frosting while hot (optional). Cool on a wire rack, then place in covered container until ready to eat. These taste best when warm. If they have cooled, simply place in the microwave for about 15-20 seconds to reheat, and soften. Enjoy a guilt-free, sinless cinnamon roll! (Or if you are like me, enjoy two or three!)
For the Filling:
Note from Ashlee: This spread is great because it adds body and flavor without oils or fats. It tastes the best if the cinnamon rolls are going to be eaten the same day they are baked, or when the cinnamon rolls are very warm. Once the cinnamon rolls cool, the date paste tends to get chunky. Reheating helps, but the date filling tastes the best when fresh from the oven. Make sure you only spread a thin layer, as this will prevent the paste from getting chunky the day after baking.
2 1/2 cups pitted dates, or date pieces
1 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
Bring all ingredients to a boil in a covered saucepan. Mash or process in food processor to make a thick paste. Or blend in a blender, adding a little extra water if needed, to blend until thick and smooth. (After spreading a very thin layer of the date paste, be sure to sprinkle generously with cinnamon before rolling the dough into a "jelly roll" to enjoy that cinnamon taste!)
Brown Rice Syrup and Brown Sugar Spread
Note from Ashlee: This filling is my own invention, and my personal preference as a fat free filling for cinnamon rolls. The hardest part is preventing it from becoming too runny; when that happens, all the filling oozes out of the dough. However, if that happens, the majority of the flavor remains on and around the roll during baking, and still tastes wonderful. I like this filling especially because it tastes great reheated, and retains it's flavor and texture the next day. Even at room temperature. Brown rice syrup is also a much cheaper and a faster alternative to using 2.5 cups of boiled and mashed dates!
1/4 cup brown rice syrup
2-4 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon applesauce
2 teaspoons cinnamon
In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients with a fork, until well incorporated. If the mixture is too thick and too difficult to stir, consider adding an additional one teaspoon of applesauce. However, also remember that the mixture will soften on the dough. You don't want it to become runny or the filling will ooze out of the inside of the cinnamon roll when the dough is being rolled. If you want it to be thicker, add additional 2 tablespoons of brown sugar.
Spread a layer over the rolled out dough, leaving a remaining 1/4 inch of the dough dry. The dry portion of the dough makes it possible for the cinnamon rolls to seal shut when rolling the dough into a "jelly roll."
Cream Cheese Frosting:
1/4 cup nondairy cream cheese (I use Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese brand)
1/2-1 cup confectioner's (powdered) sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
non-dairy milk, as needed
Whip cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract until they become light and fluffy. If it becomes too thick, add nondairy milk, a teaspoon at a time, until it is thinned to desired consistency. If it is too thin, add more powdered sugar.
Pour generously over cinnamon rolls while they are still warm!
From Lindsay S. Nixons, "Happy Herbivore."
1 cup confectioner's sugar
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl, whipping to combine. Add more maple syrup for a thinner icing, or more sugar for a thicker icing.
I have tried to make oil free yeast breads before, and it has turned out abysmally. I thought for sure the dough would not rise. I basically was preparing myself for massive failure.
I was so happy when it actually rose! I had to run into the next room to show Paul that it wasn't a complete doozy of a recipe.
You can see here, how the filling was a tad too runny and came out a little bit because I added too much applesauce.
If this happens, just scoop up the filling and pour it on top of the cinnamon roll after it has been placed on the cookie sheet. To prevent this from happening, be careful not to add too much applesauce to the brown rice syrup and Brown Sugar Filling. Or, use the date spread, which is not runny at all.
I was equally as ecstatic when I discovered that they raised beautifully again, the second time, as rolls.
They baked to perfection. Cinnabon in my kitchen...
I've since made these cinnamon rolls several more times, and my children heartily gobble them up, asking for seconds. (PROJECT VEGAN KIDS!)
The whole wheat versions bake up just as nicely, and feel healthier when eating them.
The icing, is, well, the icing on the cake! It is so good! (And might I add, pretty too?)
What is your very favorite Christmas treat that brings back happy memories from childhood? Have you had any success (or fears!) in trying to re-make it into a healthier version?
Any Christmas/Holiday recipe you would like to see transformed into a whole food here on this blog?