Easter morning is such a good time for a bit of a splurge, and these cinnamon rolls fit that role perfectly. The “sourdough cinnamon roll” idea had been floating around in my head for quite some time, and what better time to give them a try than a beautiful Easter morning?
These worked wonderfully. We started the dough the afternoon before, and then after going to a beautiful 7AM sunrise service, rolled them out and let them rise. We were enjoying them by 10AM, which was perfect timing. Certainly a bit easier & faster than starting the dough that morning and having to wait for multiple rises!
I’d never made cinnamon rolls on my own (still haven’t really, since Joe handled much of the bread-making!), but have spent countless mornings and afternoons helping my mom produce dozens of them. In case I haven’t mentioned it before (and even if I have), she is quite the baker, known all around town for her light and delicious whole wheat bread, doughnuts, cinnamon rolls, and just about anything else that would fall in the bread category.
This being my experience with cinnamon rolls, of course I have somewhat high standards. Thankfully, these rolls delivered. As I expected, they’re different than mom’s, with their characteristic sour note and a less “fluffy” end result, but still delicious.
The sourdough flavor complimented the normal sweetness of cinnamon rolls quite well, but if you’re a bit fan of a really light, fluffy cinnamon roll, the yeasted version may be the one for you. I did read a few recipes for 36-hr sourdough cinnamon rolls, and perhaps a longer process like that would meet even higher standards, but we didn’t start thinking about our recipe early enough to give that method a try. There were also recipes which combined yeast and sourdough, but we wanted to stick with a wild fermentation this time around.
These would be wonderful for a weekend breakfast, or a treat anytime. We’ve reheated our leftover rolls and enjoyed them for even more special breakfasts yesterday and today, but they are certainly best fresh out of the oven.
Since I grew up helping mom make cinnamon rolls and never measuring the ingredients that went into the filling or the glaze, that’s how I made these. I’ll give approximate guesses for how much brown sugar to use, etc., but just follow your instincts, really. My mom has made cinnamon rolls with coconut oil in the filling before, so that Joe could eat them, but we used ghee (since the milk solids have been removed, Joe doesn’t at all react to it) this time, which fulfills the buttery factor perfectly. You could use butter, ghee or coconut oil (if vegan or allergic to milk products) for delicious results.
Whole Wheat Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls
makes about 16
1 1/2 cup sourdough starter (ours is the consistency of pancake batter)
2-3 cups whole wheat flour
2/3 cup coconut milk
2 Tbsp maple syrup or honey
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
about 1/2 cup brown sugar (I used organic evaporated cane juice mixed with a lil’ organic molasses)
butter, ghee, or coconut oil, softened
chopped nuts (we used pecans) and/or raisins, optional
about 1/4 to 1/2 cup powdered evaporated cane juice sugar
1-2 Tbsp coconut milk
1 Tbsp maple syrup
The afternoon before you plan to make cinnamon rolls, mix together your sourdough starter and 1 cup of the flour. This will help the yeast activate and spread throughout the flour. In the evening (ours sat for about 6 hours before this step), add the remaining ingredients for the dough, adding enough flour to make the dough workable & not too sticky, but keep it pretty soft. Knead for 4-5 minutes, adding more flour if necessary.
Place in an oiled bowl. Cover with a damp cloth and leave in a warm place to rise overnight.
The next morning, punch down the dough and transfer to an oiled surface (my mom always spreads the countertop with palm fruit shortening; this works a whole lot better than flour in keeping the dough from sticking!). Roll out into a rectangle, about 12 x 18 inches. Using your fingers, spread the softened butter (ghee, or coconut oil), over the entire surface of dough. The sprinkle with the brown sugar, some cinnamon and nuts/raisins, if using.
Starting at the long side of the rectangle, roll the dough into a long log, working gently and being careful not to tear the dough. Pinch the ends together to seal. Here’s the fun part: you can cut the rolls with a knife, or you can use my mom’s method, which keeps the rolls much rounder. Take a piece of dental floss, wrap it around your two pointer fingers, slide the floss underneath the dough, then bring your two fingers up to meet in the middle above the dough, as the floss slices through and gives you a perfectly round cinnamon roll! Place the rounds in an oiled 9″x13″ baking pan (I love my pyrex for this). Let rise 1-2 hours, or until about doubled in size. Keeping them warm will help them rise faster!
Preheat oven to 350. Once rolls have risen, bake them for about 20 minutes, or until beginning to brown. Prepare glaze by whisking together the powdered sugar, maple syrup and enough coconut milk to make it the right consistency. When rolls are done, let cool slightly, then cover with glaze.