Vegan Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Vegan Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

I know what you’re thinking… Pumpkin is not something you cook with in June. And I wouldn’t typically disagree. But do you ever have those wild cravings for something that keep you awake at night? I can’t understand why, but for the last few weeks, I’ve been craving the spices of autumn. I woke up last Saturday morning to the heavy pitter-patter of rain streaking across my windows. It was foggy and gray outside; my farmer’s market plans were quickly abolished. I moved sluggishly out of bed, my eyes took an eternity to focus on the room in front of me. I brewed some coffee, sat on the couch, contemplated what was next. I knew I wanted to take on a hefty weekend baking project. Because when, if not on a rainy saturday, would you go through the trouble of making dough from scratch? 

And so I began. Warming soy milk, awakening yeast, smelling spices, kneading flour. I began my ascent up the small mountain that is making these vegan cinnamon rolls, and boy was it worth it. The kneading woke up my arm muscles. The intoxicating scent of cinnamon wafting through the apartment roused my olfactory senses. The excitement I felt waiting to eat one pumped adrenaline through my veins. I was finally alert. 

These rolls are everything that a cinnamon roll should be. They’re soft, and squishy, spicy and sweet. They’re covered in a "cream cheese" glaze that creeps into the folds, and makes for a truly luscious eating experience. I used pumpkin butter for my filling but you can get creative and try anything from apple to peanut butter. When you’re looking for your next big baking experiment, give these a whirl. I promise they’ll give your mind and body a deliciously rewarding workout. And yes, they’re vegan, but you wouldn’t know if I hadn’t told you. 

Vegan Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
adapted very slightly from the Minimalist Baker

  • 1 packet instant yeast (~2 1/4 tsp)
  • 1 cup unsweetened soy milk (you can use almond, but I kept my version nut-free)
  • 5 tbs vegan butter (such as Earth Balance), divided
  • 1/4 tsp salt, I used kosher
  • 1/3 cup + 1 tbsp + 1 tbsp organic cane sugar, divided
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin puree
  • ~3 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp + 1 tbsp cinnamon, divided
  • 1 tsp + 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice, divided
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin butter or apple butter or fruit butter that you like

Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting
adapted very slightly from the Minimalist Baker

  • 4 tbs vegan butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup of tofutti or vegan cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp of pure vanilla extract 
  • powdered sugar (about 1-2.5 cups, see instructions below)

Directions:

  1. To begin, microwave the soy milk and 2 tbs vegan butter for 45 seconds. Then let it sit, consistently whisking until all of the vegan butter melts. Touch it with your finger, it should be lukewarm but not boiling hot. If you have a food-safe thermometer, the liquid should be 110 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  2. Sprinkle on the yeast and lightly whisk. Let the yeast "awaken" for 10 minutes, then add 1 tbs sugar, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, and 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice and stir. Let it set for a a few minutes, then whisk in pumpkin puree.
  3. Next, combine your wet ingredients with your flour. You want to add flour in small increments (about 1/2 cup at a time) until the dough is thick and sticky. I had to start kneading the dough by hand at around 2 cups of flour. Additionally, I ended up using slightly less than 3 cups of flour, but you may have to adjust depending on how your dough feels. Knead it for a minute. Here is a good article with some tips on kneading, and knowing whether dough is ready for it's rest AKA nap. 
  4. Place your dough in a clean dry bowl that has been brushed with oil or vegan butter, and cover with damp paper towel (not directly touching the dough as it will rise). Set it aside for an hour. It should double in size after 1 hour. If it does not, the yeast was dead (RIP) and you may have to start over. 
  5. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  6. While the dough rises, make the icing. Simply whisk together vegan butter, vegan cream cheese, and vanilla extract. Then begin to add powdered sugar. It's really up to you how much to add, as it will help to thicken the glaze. I personally prefer a glaze that is less sweet and more liquidy, so I added slightly over a cup, but play around with it! Don't worry, you can't mess this one up. The original recipe calls for up to 2.5 cups of powdered sugar.
  7. Find a clean, dry surface. Sprinkle on a few tablespoons of flour, then roll out the dough into a large rectangle. Brush with 2 Tbsp melted vegan butter and then 1/2 cup fruit butter of your choice. Top with 1/3 cup sugar, 1 tbs cinnamon, and 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice.
  8. Starting on one end, carefully roll the dough up and slice it into 1.5-2inch slices. Add 1 tbs of remaining melted vegan butter to coat the bottom of your pan, then place each slice down gently. You should have ~10 slices. I used a deep 9-inch pie pan that worked perfectly. You can also use an 8x8 pyrex, as the Minimalist Baker did. 
  9. Sprinkle the top of the cinnamon rolls with a bit more sugar, then bake in the oven for 30-45 minutes until the top is golden brown and crusty. Let the rolls sit for 10 minutes, then glaze them! 
  10. Dig in!!! If you're not enjoying these immediately, I highly recommend holding off on glazing, and warming them up again before eating (8 minutes, 350 degrees). Then, just glaze them right before serving. This will help keep everything fresh. 
how I felt when I finished this Herculean task....

how I felt when I finished this Herculean task....

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