Sweet Cinnamon Rolls (Vegan, Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free, No Yeast)
There’s something about a cinnamon roll. It’s warm, it’s comforting. The smell of them baking in the morning is just divine. They can be made all year but there’s something just cozy about making them the fall and through the winter. I usually spend my seasons in LA, and this year I’m in New England. So I’m getting all the feels!
I’d love to make cinnamon rolls a tradition. Make them on Sundays. Make them on Christmas morning. However making cinnamon rolls without gluten or yeast is SO, CHALLENGING. Yeast and gluten are what give the bread a nice stretchy pull. I stopped eating yeast when I got a bad Candida overgrowth years ago, and even fighting still to this day. If you are on a Candida diet, do not eat yeast! It’ll just join the party. A great substitute for yeast is apple cider vinegar. The bubbles will create a rise and give you a nice crumb in your breads and doughs. So my mission was to make a bready cinnamon roll that resembled the real thing. It may not stretch and pull, but it is bready and delicious. Remember those little packaged Spinwheels by Little Debbie? This is what they remind me of. I like to peel the layers back and eat one layer at a time. That’s where you get all the cinnamon-y goodness. It took me a few attempts but I finally achieved a cinnamon roll that I can make on Sundays. It's hard to find good gluten free desserts (and gut healthy desserts) in restaurants and shops, so I've learned to just make my own!
These gluten free cinnamon rolls are made with gluten free all purpose flour. I have not tried to make them paleo but it is up next on my list. My paleo flour may be substituted but I’m not sure how it’ll bind. So I’d hold off until I post that recipe! These can also be made with all purpose flour if you are not gluten free, and real butter as well. I bet they’d be even more divine. I used Earth Balance butter sticks for these, but I also love baking with Miyoko’s butter. It’s a cleaner option, but they both come out great.
Are these cinnamon rolls easy to make?
Yes! No fuss. No waiting for the dough to rise and warming the yeast. These can be made in under an hour. The dough is easy to roll and I have no trouble with it being too sticky or too crumbly. Make the dough, roll the dough, sprinkle the cinnamon/sugar mix, roll it up, slice it up, and bake! Keep in mind these cinnamon rolls are less stretchy, and more doughy and bread-like in texture due to the lack of gluten and yeast. You can pull them apart or eat them with a fork!
The frosting is a vegan cream cheese frosting that compliments the cinnamon in the rolls perfectly. You need the frosting to elevate these from delicious to epic.
What do I need for these cinnamon rolls?
9" baking dish, circle or square
Hand mixer for the frosting
What are in these cinnamon rolls?
All Purpose Gluten Free Flour: I have not tried a paleo version yet and I used Bob’s GF 1:1 here. You may also try cassava but I’d reduce the recipe by 1/4 the amount. I haven’t tried it but it may work
Baking powder: This gives your dough a nice rise
Sea Salt: Salt is always used in baking to balance out sweetness
Vegan/Dairy Free Butter: I used Earth Balance sticks but Miyoko’s will work as well. Or real, grass fed butter. This recipe calls for a good amount, that’s what makes them so delicious
Cinnamon: The star of the filling!
Coconut Sugar: My go to for all my baking. It’s low glycemic, safe on most diets and does not taste like coconut!
Non Dairy Milk: Any unsweetened non-dairy milk. I always bake with Oatly. I have a love affair with Oatly. But you can use regular milk here too
Apple Cider Vinegar: This acts as your yeast, it reacts with the milk and baking powder and allows a nice rise so these become bread-y
Powdered Sugar: I always make my own unrefined powdered sugar by putting any granulated sweetener in a high speed blender for 30 seconds. I typically use coconut sugar but any powdered sugar works here. This is the base of your icing
Vanilla Extract: This is the vanilla flavor in your frosting
Vegan Cream Cheese: This is for your dairy-free cream cheese frosting. I use Violife, it has a great texture and is a nice bright white color
2 cups of all purpose gluten free flour* see notes for subs
4 tbsp of coconut sugar
1 tbsp of baking powder
1 tsp of sea salt
5 tbsp of non-dairy butter, or regular grass fed butter. I used Earth Balance Sticks
3/4 cup of non dairy milk
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2/3 cups of coconut sugar
3 tsp of cinnamon
4 tbsp of melted non-dairy butter (or real butter)
1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
1/3 cup of vegan cream cheese. I used Violife
3 tbsp of non-dairy butter (real butter works too)
1 tsp of vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups of unrefined powdered sugar* see notes
1 tbsp of maple syrup (or non dairy milk)
Preheat the oven to 375F. You will need a 9” round pan or square baking dish, so have that ready and give it a good buttering, or spray it with cooking spray so it’s fully coated.
In a small bowl, mix together the milk and vinegar and set aside for 5 minutes.
In a medium size bowl, mix together the flour, coconut sugar, baking powder and sea salt.
Now cut in the butter with a knife, fork, or your hands and mix until just crumbled. The butter pieces should be pea-sized and smaller. You can also do this in a food processor.
Add in the milk and mix well until a dough forms. Roll into a ball, it should be formable but a little sticky.
Find a clean, flat surface and sprinkle with some extra flour, a few tablespoons. You'll want to roll your dough ball into this flour and knead a bit so it’s incorporated. This helps with the stickiness of your dough. It should now be the texture of a stickier play-doh.
Take 2 pieces of parchment paper or wax paper and flour them a bit. Transfer your dough ball between these two pieces and start to flatten it with your hands. Now you want to roll it out with a rolling pin. Try to roll it in a large rectangle shape, about 9” x 12” and about 1/4” thick. It doesn’t have to be perfect on the edges. Those will be cut off.
Once it’s rolled out into a nice rectangular shape, spread your filling mixture in the center of the dough, leaving a little bit of dough remaining plain on the sides. About a 1” border. Your filling will spread to the edges when you roll it up.
Now carefully lift one of the shorter sides of your dough up and start to roll it in. This should be easy and not crack or stick to the paper. You may have to use your fingers to guide it up and tuck it under, in the beginning.
Once fully rolled, your dough should be in the shape of a log. It will be soft so try not to to move it around. Some of the filling may have come out of the edges. I save that and spread it on top after. Take a sharp smooth knife and carefully cut into the log, in about 3/4” pieces. You may have to hold the sides with your fingers to keep it from wiggling and losing its shape while you cut. Alternatively, if it’s too soft to cut without smooshing it, you can transfer to the freezer for 5-8 minutes to firm up before cutting.
Now transfer your cut rolls to your baking dish, placing them side by side. Just touching. They will spread a bit when baked which will make them ‘pull apart'. You can reshape the rolls into circles once they are in the baking dish.
Bake about 18-20 minutes until just golden brown on the edges.
While these are baking, prepare your frosting. With a hand mixer, cream together the butter and the vegan cream cheese. Now add in the remaining ingredients and mix on medium until a frosting forms. If too runny, add more powdered sugar. If too crumbly, add 1 tsp of milk until it becomes spreadable. (See notes about making unrefined powdered sugar)
When your cinnamon rolls are done, remove from oven and let them cool a bit before spreading the frosting. Spread frosting over all the rolls, covering them. They are best enjoyed warm, the frosting may melt a bit and they may pull the others apart with them! But it’s worth it.
Store these on the counter for 1 day, and then transfer to the fridge in an airtight container for up to reheat when you want to enjoy! You can also store them frozen and thaw when ready to eat.
To make unrefined powdered sugar, place any granulated sweetener in a high speed blender (preferably dry container) for 30+ seconds until it becomes a power.
You can substitute the GF flour for all purpose flour. You can also try to substitute cassava flour for grain free, but I would reduce the flour to 1 3/4 cups and add more if the dough is too wet. Cassava absorbs a lot of moisture so you always add a bit less when using it. I haven’t tried this yet but if you do please leave me some feedback!
Knead and roll your dough on a floured surface before rolling out flat. This helps with reducing stickiness and also helps your dough rise as you activate the apple cider vinegar.
Carefully roll up your dough into a log shape, starting with the shorter end of the dough rectangle. You may need to use your fingers to help tuck the dough in as you begin to roll.
Keep in mind, these do not have yeast or gluten so they will not be very stretchy. They are more doughy and bready in texture but you can pull them apart or cut into them with a fork.
If you try these cinnamon rolls or have any questions, leave your comments and ratings below! And tag me @gusty_baker on Instagram, #gutsybakes!