Earth to Belle: Vegan Cinnamon Rolls

Belle Zhao

Is there something that you’ve been meaning to do, but just… haven’t yet? Like clean your room, do your laundry, or study? Me too. There’s this recipe I’ve been meaning to try for years now. And I’m not exaggerating.
Ever since I was little, I’ve had strong food cravings. So much so, that when I crave something, I make some kind of silent promise to myself that I must have that food one way or another. Even if that means I won’t have it until many years later. I don’t forget my cravings no matter the timeline, and I feel the need to go through them and “check” them off my list of cravings I need to get out of the way. It’s odd. But it makes perfect sense to me. I don’t know why I can’t have this kind of determination for my classes at school. But I digress.
One day, years ago, baby Belle was craving cinnamon rolls. And for some reason, I couldn’t get my hands on any at that moment. So I did the next best thing and looked up the recipe so I could make it myself. And that’s when I found this cinnamon roll recipe by Minimalist Baker. It was 2013, and I was just starting high school. I immediately saved the recipe to my “must trys” folder I used to add to almost everyday, but I’ve still yet to make them years later. I remember trying to get my friends to come over so we could make cinnamon rolls on numerous occasions, but the plans always fell through for one reason or another. I’ve never really had the courage to make them on my own because I’ve never worked with yeast, and screwing up on this recipe scares me especially since I’ve built up so much momentum in my head to finally make these rolls. But today, we are turning a new leaf of courage. Even if I don’t succeed, at least I can share it with you guys.

Icing ingredients not pictured
The dough doubled… also I’m very surprised this worked
Add a little.. or a lot

Vegan Cinnamon Rolls
Serves 10
Recipe by Minimalist Baker

For the Rolls
1 packet instant (or rapid rise) yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
1 cup (240 ml) unsweetened plain almond milk
1/2 cup (112 g) Earth balance (vegan butter), divided
1/4 tsp salt
3 cups (408 g) unbleached all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp (63 g) organic cane sugar, divided

For Cream Cheese Icing
4 Tbsp non-dairy butter (such as Earth Balance), softened
2 cups powdered sugar (I only put 1 cup of sugar)
4 ounces softened “Tofutti” dairy-free cream cheese, softened (I added 8 ounces)
1/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract

    1. In a large sauce pan (or in a bowl in the microwave at 30 sec increments), heat the almond milk and 3 Tbsp Earth Balance until warm and melted, never reaching boiling. Remove from heat and let cool to 110 degrees F (43 C), or the temperature of bath water. It should be warm but not too hot or it will kill the yeast.
    2. Transfer mixture to a large mixing bowl and sprinkle on yeast. Let activate for 10 minutes, then add 1 Tbsp sugar and the salt and stir.
    3. Next add in flour 1/2 cup (68 g) at a time, stirring as you go (you may not add it all). The dough will be sticky. When it is too thick to stir, transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead for a minute or so until it forms a loose ball (be careful not to overmix). Rinse your mixing bowl out, coat it with canola or grapeseed oil, and add your dough ball back in. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise for about 1 hour, or until doubled in size (see photo).
    4. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a thin rectangle. Brush with 3 Tbsp melted Earth Balance and top with 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 – 1 Tbsp cinnamon (to taste).
    5. Starting at one end, tightly roll up the dough and situate seam side down. Then with a serrated knife or a string of floss, cut the dough into 1.5 – 2 inch sections and position in a well-buttered 8×8-inch square or comparable sized round pan (you should have about 10 rolls). Brush with remaining 2 Tbsp Earth Balance (melted) and cover with plastic wrap. Set on top of the oven to let rise again while you preheat oven to 350 degrees F (176 C).
    6. Once the oven is hot, bake rolls for 25-30 minutes or until slightly golden brown. Let cool for a few minutes.
    7. While cooling, make your frosting by beating dairy-free butter and cream cheese together, then add vanilla and beat again. Add powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time until you reach desired consistency and sweetness. It should be fairly thick but still spreadable. Drizzle to your heart’s desire and serve immediately.
Artificial lighting is food’s worst enemy. But also, the rolls were SO fluffy :’)