CINNAMON BUNS (also a sloth baby)

28 Feb

There are cinnamon buns under this sloth.  (They’re only there because the sloth hasn’t seen them yet.)


There they are.

Go ahead, guess the best part about these cinnamon buns, besides that they’re cinnamon buns.  Is it the fact that they don’t require overnight preparation?  That they don’t need any special equipment besides a $6 thermometer? All true.  But guess what else?

Surprise!  They’re vegan and whole-wheat with raw sugar (except in the glaze).  Enjoy your cinnamon buns and ethical consumption and a modicum of healthiness.  But they are still cinnamon buns, so let’s not get carried away here.

I’m baking caramelized walnut banana muffins with chocolate ganache right now, so I’ll keep my usual preamble to a minimum and get right to the good stuff.  Because what can you say when there’s cinnamon buns in front of you?  Nothing.  You’re stuffing them in your face.  At least I am, and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

Click through for the recipe!

Whole-wheat Cinnamon Buns
Makes 6.

3/4 cup nondairy milk
2 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast

3 cups whole-wheat pastry flour, divided (not whole-wheat flour alone!  This is important to note for crumb formation)
2-3 tablespoons vital wheat gluten, divided (see preparation instructions for more information)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/3 cup canola oil
1/4 cup raw sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
5 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce

4 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 c confectioner’s sugar
1-3 teaspoon nondairy milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 350F and grease a medium cake pan (8 inches in diameter or side length; if you don’t have a cake pan, fear not–just measure a pan that you do have and see if you can find one approximately 65-75 square inches in area.  I used a ~7″x10″ pan.)

Pour nondairy milk into a saucepan and gently heat (low heat!) to 110F.  When this temperature is reached, mix in the yeast and allow to dissolve, which will take 5-7 minutes.

Sift two cups of flour, the sugar, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, and salt together in a mixing bowl.  (To sift, use a metal mesh strainer.  Put the ingredients to be sifted together in the mesh strainer, mixed together; shake the strainer from side to side to create a soft, powdery mist of dry ingredients.  Next time I post, I will add a photo of the before and after of sifting–it makes a difference, really!  Especially with whole-wheat flours.)

Using a spatula, add the applesauce and nondairy milk/yeast; stir to combine.  Add 1/2 cup of flour and stir until evenly mixed.  Slowly, add a little of the canola oil; the dough will be a little dry and floury without.  Don’t feel the need to use the entire cup, if you don’t want to–the dough is right when it is smooth and not sticky.

Knead in 1/4 cup flour and the vital wheat gluten; add a little more oil if you find the flour to be unwilling to absorb or the dough too dry.  You should be kneading the dough 20 times or so, but you don’t have to count.  To know if you have proper gluten formation, which is the key to a fluffy, happy cinnamon bun, you should perform the windowpane test.  (I like to do this by raising the dough sample in the air like Simba and holding it up to the light, because my kitchen has awful lighting, because I live in a shoebox.)

Once your dough is sufficiently glutinous, flour a rolling pin and flatten the dough out into a large, thin rectangle.  In a small bowl on the side, combine the brown sugar and teaspoon of cinnamon (you can also use raisins, but I find them texturally disruptive); sprinkle the mixture on top of the center of the dough.  Leave 1/2-1″ of space; the sugar will decay and expand when you bake.  (I suggest erring on the side of less space, because I love that gooey cinnamon-sugar ooze.)

Be delicate, but roll the dough up tightly.  You can use a pizza cutter or sharp knife to slice the roll into six equal pieces (I like to kind of shave off the ends, since they would form a strange little roll.)  Stick your buns in the pan and stick the pan in the oven.  Bake for 25 minutes; the rolls will be just a touch golden.

While the buns are baking, make the glaze with the confectioner’s sugar, nondairy milk, and vanilla.  Drizzle over the dough while still warm.  (If you like a thicker, whiter glaze, add more sugar, but between us, I don’t love an overwhelming glaze.)

Feed one to yourself, your favorite person, and any nearby baby sloths.


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