There are few things more satisfying than when your dough rises. Or the smell of freshly baked bread. Or the first bite of freshly baked bread. I perfected my vegan cinnamon roll recipe nearly three years ago and it hasn’t failed me since, so feeling confident, I set out to turn it into a cinnamon roll loaf. I got the idea from a Better Homes & Gardens magazine recipe for cinnamon pull-apart bread and thought, “how fun would it be to do a sort of pull-apart bread but with whole cinnamon rolls?” The answer: very fun…after I totally botched my first attempt.
My flour was too cold (because I store it in the freezer), my coconut oil seized up (because it’s winter), I didn’t let my dough proof in a warm enough place, and thus my yeast only partially activated and I ended up with a cinnamon roll BRICK that even our dogs didn’t want to eat. Basically, I got a little too lax on the essentials of successful bread baking. So, the next time around I implemented some changes. I made sure my flour was at room temperature, I swapped coconut oil for avocado oil (it’s a healthy source of fat, neutral tasting, and most importantly for this purpose—it stays a liquid), and I used a simple hack to turn my oven into a cozy proofing drawer (detailed in the recipe notes below). My dough got super fluffy (the BEST feeling!) and I finally had cinnamon roll loaf success! I happily shared a slice with Aaron, fully expecting him to want to marry me all over again, except he said “I don’t love whatever spices you’re using.” Ummm, cinnamon?? That’s the only spice in this recipe.
The back story is that a few months ago, I switched from cassis cinnamon to real-deal ceylon cinnamon and according to Aaron, he prefers the cheap stuff. I don’t believe him because he’s been unknowingly eating ceylon cinnamon in his muesli every single day since I made the switch, which is why I responded that his taste buds must be off and forced another slice on him the next day. And guess what? He loved it and has been very happily snacking on (ceylon) cinnamon rolls ever since.
The moral of this story is that whether you use cassis or ceylon, you need to make yourself this cinnamon roll loaf and if you’re so kind as to share a slice and someone tells you they don’t like it, tell them they are wrong (because they are). 😉
P.S. Don’t be deterred by my lengthy recipe instructions and notes. I was intentionally very detailed to ensure that your first cinnamon roll loaf attempt is a win.
- 3½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling out the dough
- ¼ cup coconut sugar
- 2¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
- ¾ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 cup plain unsweetened almond milk, warmed (about 115° F)
- ¼ cup avocado oil, plus extra for greasing the bowl/pan
- ⅓ cup coconut sugar
- 1½ tablespoons ground cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons avocado oil
- 1 cup organic powdered sugar, sifted
- 2 tablespoons plain unsweetened almond milk
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Make the dough: Lightly oil a large mixing bowl and set it aside. To the bowl of a stand mixer, add the flour, coconut sugar, active dry yeast, and salt. Mix until thoroughly combined. Add the warmed non-dairy milk and ¼ cup of oil, then mix again using the dough hook attachment on medium-low speed (I use the #2 setting on my KitchenAid) for 5 minutes. If the dough is too sticky (it should pull away from the sides of the bowl), you can add additional flour 1 tablespoon at a time. Transfer the dough to the oiled mixing bowl, cover it with a towel, and set it aside in a warm place for 1 to 2 hours to rise, or until doubled in size.
- Prepare the filling: Combine the coconut sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.
- Assemble the rolls: Line a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan with parchment paper and set it aside. Line your counter with a piece of parchment paper and lightly sprinkle it with flour. Roll the dough out into a rectangle that is about 21 x 12 inches, with the 21 inch length parallel to you. Brush the dough with 2 tablespoons of oil, then evenly sprinkle it with the filling mixture. Very tightly roll the dough into a log, rolling it from bottom to top, then use the rolling pin to flatten it until it's a 21 x 3½ inch rectangle. Cut it into 7 pieces (with each approximately 3-inches wide) then transfer to your prepared pan, arranging each piece in a single row, swirl-side up. Cover the pan with a towel and allow to rise for 1 hour in a warm place, or until the dough expands to fill the loaf pan.
- Bake the loaf: Pre-heat the oven to 350° F, then bake for 30 minutes, or until golden. Using the parchment paper, lift the loaf from the pan and set it on a wire rack to cool completely, about 1 hour.
- Prepare the icing: While the loaf cools, in a small mixing bowl whisk together the powdered sugar, almond milk, and vanilla. Drizzle the icing over the cooled loaf. Slice and serve.
When making the dough, it's critical that your flour and oil are room temperature and your milk is somewhere around 115-120° F or you'll run into problems with your yeast and the dough won't properly rise. I use this thermometer to measure the temperature of the milk.
If you don't have a warm place to let the dough rise, you can turn your oven into a proofing drawer! Fill a pan with boiling water and place it on your bottom oven rack. Place the bowl of dough, uncovered, on the middle rack (you may need to remove the top rack to fit the bowl). Pre-heat the oven to 400° F for EXACTLY 1 minute, then turn off the oven. Allow the dough to rise for 60-90 minutes, or until doubled in size. Don't open the oven door until you're ready to use the dough.
Organic cane sugar also works in place of coconut sugar (it's a little sweeter).
Melted coconut oil works in place of avocado oil, although I find it more difficult to use during the winter months because it wants to be solid at room temperature where I live.
You can store the finished loaf in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
I have a feeling this would make AMAZING French toast, just sayin'.
Recipe adapted from my easy vegan cinnamon rolls.