Soft and Gooey Cinnamon Rolls [v]
I’m going to be bold. These are the best cinnamon rolls I have ever had. Hands down. I’m pretty proud of this recipe Soft and gooey cinnamon rolls that taste so delectably sinful, yet (dare I say it..) they are actually relatively healthy…. !! Surprise surprise, not like you’d expect me to post anything unhealthy on Chowvida, but still. Act surprised. Act even more surprised when I tell you that the secret to keeping the dough perfectly soft (no dry cinnamon rolls here), is the addition of a sweet potato! The dough is basically like making gnocchi, but with yeast… so you can imagine eating a fluffy gooey little baked gnocchi…. and that’s what eating these cinnamon rolls is like! Yum!
I hosted a brunch party this morning for which my cousin requested I make cinnamon rolls. I’ve made many batches of cinnamon rolls before, but have just never been overly satisfied with the recipes. I’ve even tried making them the traditional unhealthy way with lots of butter, but have never been satisfied with the dough. It’s always too dry! The center of the roll is great, don’t get me wrong… but the outside… meh. I want the WHOLE roll to be delicious! So as you might have guessed, I set out to find a new dough recipe. I looked for ways to make soft cinnamon roll dough, and came across a recipe that used regular mashed potatoes… which piqued my interest and got me thinking: why not use sweet potato instead? More natural sugar = less refined sugar needed! Always a plus. I tweaked the recipe quite a bit, but it turned out fabulous. I actually think these could easily be made vegan too…. so I will make the vegan suggestions in the recipe below!
makes ~40, 2″ x 3″ cinnamon rolls
- 1 cup soy milk (hemp, almond, rice would all work fine)
- 2 packets yeast (about 4.5 teaspoons)
- 3 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 cup roasted sweet potato, peeled and mashed (about 1 medium/large sweet potato. I used a satsuma sweet potato, if you can’t find satsuma, another sweet white/yellow flesh variety should work)
- 1/2 cup plain non-fat greek yogurt (full fat coconut milk or soy yogurt also works great if vegan)
- 1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
- 1 egg (or flax egg for vegans – 1 tbsp flax seed meal + 3 tbsp water mixed together)
- 3 or 4 cups bread flour (you’ll have to feel this one out, as some sweet potatoes are moister than others)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup brown sugar (you can reduce this if you want them more mildly sweet)
- 3 tbsp cinnamon
- 1/4 cup coconut oil, or butter, softened but not melted (I’ve made them both ways, and they both taste amazing!)
- Optional frosting: 1 cup confectioners sugar + 1 tbsp soy milk (adjust as necessary to get the right consistency)
- Heat your oven to 400 F, place the whole sweet potato (skin and all) on a baking tray and into the oven. Roast for about 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted into it feels like it’s going through butter. If it’s not soft enough, keep roasting it longer – it needs to be soft! The time for this will vary depending on the shape of your sweet potato (round, fat, long, skinny..). Once cooked to perfection, remove from the oven and set aside to let it cool (note: you can cut it in half and poke it a couple times with the knife to help it cool faster).
- Once the sweet potato is cool enough to handle, remove the peel and discard. It should be easy to peel with your hands. Place the sweet potato in a measuring cup and mash it thoroughly so there are no lumps. The 1 cup measurement doesn’t have to be super exact… it will just change the amount of flour you need to use later, so if you have a little under or over a cup, don’t worry! Set the mashed sweet potato aside.
- Heat the soy milk to a warm luke-warm temperature (it shouldn’t be anywhere near scalding hot). Mix the warmed soy milk, yeast, and 1 tbsp of the maple syrup together in a small bowl. Set aside and allow the yeast to proof (it should get super bubbly/puffy after 5-10 minutes).
- Meanwhile, place the mashed sweet potato in a large bowl, and add the remaining 2 tbsp maple syrup, the egg (or egg replacer), the melted coconut oil, the yogurt, and the salt. Mix together until well combined. Now add the yeast mixture, and mix together again until well combined.
- 1 cup at a time, add the flour, incorporating it thoroughly each time. After about 3 cups, you should start kneading the dough with your hands instead of a mixer. Keep adding flour gradually until the dough is still sticky but manageable… not so sticky that it refuses to come off your hands easily. Remember, less is more, so stop while you’re ahead and make sure you don’t add too much flour or your rolls will become too dry.
- Once your dough is the right consistency, lightly oil another large bowl (make sure you get the sides too), and place your dough in the bowl. Cover with a cloth towel, and let it rise in a warm place for about an hour, or until the dough has doubled in size. (note: I like to set my oven to 100F and place the covered dough in there to rise, but a nice sunny spot in a window is fine too)
- Meanwhile, mix together the brown sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.
- After the dough has risen, divide it into two rounds. Sprinkle flour on the surface of your counter/cutting board, and roll one of the rounds into about a 12″x24″ rectangle. Spread half of the butter evenly all over the surface of the dough, then sprinkle half of the brown sugar/cinnamon mixture evenly over the butter. Roll the dough into a log, starting from the long end, and gently squeeze it with your hands as you go. Once you have a nice long log, cut it into 1.5″ thick rounds (you’ll probably get about 20), and place the rounds in a greased 9×14 baking pan, spaced about an inch or so apart.
- Repeat with the other half of the dough (and use the other half of the butter, cinnamon, sugar, etc).
- Again, cover the cinnamon rolls with a cloth towel, set in a warm place, and let them rise for another 45-60 minutes. (they’ll expand and end up touching each other, leave them this way!)
- Once risen, heat your oven to 350F, and bake for 30 minutes, or until barely golden brown. Don’t overcook!
- Remove from the oven, frost them if you wish, and enjoy the amazingness!