Sigh. The gluten free and vegan cinnamon bun recipe that I posted in 2011 is by far the most popular in terms of search engine visits and comments. It’s a recipe that’s been shared on other recipe sites and by individuals on Pinterest countless times. It’s also a recipe that’s been baffling me since day one. I shared that recipe back in the early days of my food blogging and I admit I tested it maybe twice (but probably really just once) before sharing it – mostly out of excitement that they turned out.
As time went on though, it was apparent that something just wasn’t quite right about the recipe. For every positive raving review comment there was one that was less than positive because the recipe didn’t work for them. For some people they turned out beautifully, for others a giant soggy mess in a pan.
So I remade them once, twice, three times and each time using a different all-purpose gluten-free flour blend I realized that the results were less than consistent. Aside from the batch using the same flour blend as when I originally made this recipe back in October 2011, the rest turned out less than perfect or ideal. It became obvious to me it was the all-purpose gluten-free flour blend causing me issues. The fact that not all gluten-free flour blends are alike is primarily why I no longer write recipes calling for a flour blend unless I’ve made it myself and can share that recipe with you too.
Well after quite a number of failed attempts – some completely inedible batches even by Levi’s completely undiscerning standards – I’ve finally come up with a recipe that is nearly similar to the old one but has exact flours and measurements, as well as a considerable reduction in the amount of liquid – oh and it works beautifully each time. Now that I have more experience with gluten-free and vegan baking I’ve also changed up the procedures a bit for the best results.
I have a few tips to help you out with this.
Use fresh regular active dry yeast. I’ve made this with rapid rise yeast and it didn’t really work well for me. I think there’s something about that slow controlled rise after the buns are rolled out that helps the texture of these. I don’t know for sure as I’m not a professional baker. Above all though, make sure your yeast is fresh. One of the flops I had with this recipe while testing was because it didn’t rise up nicely enough – my yeast was really past it’s prime and once I remade it with fresh yeast it was much better.
Make sure your warmed unsweetened non-dairy milk is not too hot. Super hot liquids can kill your yeast. You should be able to stick your finger in without it feeling ouchy-hot (that’s my way of saying lukewarm) but not cool either. According to the internet the temperature should be around 75°-80°F if you want to get your thermometer out and be extra specific.
Resist the urge to melt the vegan margarine for the filling. I’ve done this and it was basically a disaster. It stayed nicely on the dough at first but the moment I started rolling it up it just oozed out the ends and I ended up having to try to scoop it up and put it back on the cut buns in the pan. They just weren’t as lovely once baked. So, just make sure your margarine is softened to room temperature and spreadable. Since the dough is sticky you’ll probably have a tough time spreading it out with a knife. Just use your hands and the heat from your hands will soften it just that much more so you can smooth it out over the dough.
Don’t roll the dough too thinly. I did this nearly every time I remade this particular recipe – even for the ones in the pictures – and it makes handling the dough that much more tricky. The buns won’t keep their shape as nicely if you roll it out too thin. Just roll it out to 1/2″ and you should be good. Scroll down to the end to see my video tutorial on rolling gluten-free vegan dough.
Instead of flouring the plastic wrap like the video below suggests, I’ve started using a non-stick olive oil spray on the plastic wrap. You’ll still want a bit of flour on your hands for when it comes time to cut and move the little cinnamon spirals to the baking dish. I end up sprinkling about a tablespoon of brown rice flour over the rolled up dough before cutting it. You may need more or less. If you have lots of brown rice flour stuck to the buns, gently dust it off before placing in the baking dish.
Do not preheat your oven until after the cinnamon buns have risen for 30 minutes. The additional time the oven takes to preheat will give the buns just enough time to rise before baking. If you use your oven to help your baking rise (like I do – with the oven temperature off but the light on), just make sure you take the buns out before turning your oven on to preheat. (I know this sounds like a silly piece of advice to include, but I’ve done it by mistake before so I’m sure it might be handy for someone out there.) Also, make sure that your buns are in a warm, draft-free place (covered with a clean tea-towel if necessary) until the oven is preheated.
These buns have a bit of a cakey texture compared to regular cinnamon buns that contain gluten – though it’s been a very, very long time since I’ve had regular cinnamon buns so maybe I’m wrong about that.
In the above photos I have glazed these buns with a mixture of icing sugar and almond milk to get a nice runny, drizzly consistency. You can choose to ice these with whatever you like or leave them plain, like I do, with a bit of vegan margarine while they’re toasty warm still.
- 1½ cups unsweetened non-dairy milk, warmed
- 2½ teaspoons active dry yeast
- 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
- 4 tablespoons warm water
- ⅔ cup vegan margarine, melted
- 1 cup chickpea (garbanzo bean) flour
- 1 cup tapioca starch
- 1 cup cornstarch
- 1 cup sorghum flour
- ½ cup brown rice flour, plus more for dusting and rolling
- ½ cup organic cane sugar
- 2 teaspoons xanthan gum or guar gum
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 2½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ⅓ cup softened vegan margarine
- Place warm non-dairy milk in a 2-cup liquid measuring cup. Sprinkle yeast over top and let sit for 10 minutes.
- In a small bowl whisk together ground flax and warm water. Let sit for a few minutes to thicken.
- Sift together chickpea flour, tapioca starch, cornstarch, sorghum flour and brown rice flour. Add in organic cane sugar, xanthan gum (or guar gum) and salt.
- In the work bowl of your mixer add milk-yeast mixture, ground flaxseed mixture and melted vegan margarine. Mix to combine. Add in sifted dry ingredients and turn the mixer on to just combine. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula then turn the mixer on to a higher speed, beating the dough for about 2 minutes. Dough should be sticky.
- Spray a 13" x 9" baking pan with non-stick olive oil spray or grease with additional vegan margarine.
- Lay out two long strips of plastic wrap on a large work surface, overlapping them by about 1 inch lengthwise. Spray with non-stick olive oil spray. Scrape out dough onto the greased plastic wrap. Spray the dough with non-stick olive oil spray. Lay out two more long strips of plastic wrap over the dough, overlapping about 1 inch lengthwise as well. Use a rolling pin to gently flatten the dough into a rectangle about 24" long by 18" wide - until the dough is just about ½" thick. Do not roll the dough too thin. Remove the top layer of plastic wrap.
- Spread the final amount of vegan margarine gently over the dough, reaching to the edges as much as possible.
- In a small bowl mix brown sugar and ground cinnamon. Sprinkle the mixture over the vegan margarine, as close to the edges as possible.
- Using the bottom layer of plastic wrap to assist you, gently roll up the dough like a jelly-roll or sushi roll, squeezing the dough gently as you continue to roll. Try to keep the dough as even in thickness from end to end, gently squeezing and shaping as needed.
- Lightly dust the rolled up dough with brown rice flour to help with handling.
- Use dental floss to slice up the dough into 12 equal-sized buns by sliding the floss underneath the rolled up dough in about 1½" increments and pulling the floss across to cut the dough. (See the instructional video.)
- Gently transfer each bun to the prepared baking dish. Do not crowd the buns but they can be touching. Once all buns are in the baking dish, cover loosely with a tea towel and transfer to a warm place to rise for 30 minutes. (Or leave uncovered and place in a cold oven with the light on and door closed for 30 minutes.)
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Bake cinnamon buns in preheated oven for 25 minutes until nicely browned and when tested a pick comes out clean.
Here’s a video I shot back in 2012 with my old point-and-shoot camera which I then edited – rather crudely – using Windows Movie Maker, I believe. This was also when my kitchen was in mid-renovation so that was kind of fun to re-watch again. Since the video is pretty informative (though admittedly sort of long) I am sharing it below for you to see my technique for rolling dough in action.