Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon rolls are best eaten while wearing flannel pajamas and fuzzy slippers in front of a roaring fireplace. They’re the Thomas Kinkade paintings of baked goods. I mean, I’m not trying to encourage emotional eating, but if you’ve had a tough day, you probably need a cinnamon roll.

 In my family, cinnamon rolls were a Christmas morning tradition. These days, I’ll find any excuse to whip up a batch as soon as the weather starts cooling (it just feels wrong to eat a sticky, sweet baked good in mid-July). After some successful pumpkin cinnamon rolls last season, I started thinking about how to marry other autumn and winter flavors to my favorite recipe. This time: gingerbread.

I used my basic cinnamon roll recipe, veganized from the one I grew up making with my mom. The molasses and powdered ginger in the dough add the “gingerbread” taste, but I think it’s a little too understated in this version. More molasses, maybe? Another spice addition, like ground cloves? Try it and let me know what you think. I think a good cream cheese  frosting would be awesome on these, but today I opted for topping these babies with a simple vanilla icing.

Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls (a work in progress)

For the dough:

2 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup warm non-dairy milk (I used soy)

2 tbs molasses

1/4 cup melted earth balance or other non-hydrogenated margarine

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp.canola oil

3 tbs. water

4 1/2 – 5 C. all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp. salt

2 tsp. ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the filling:

1/3 cup earth balance, softened

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)

To prepare the dough: 

Dissolve the yeast and sugar into the milk. Let stand until foamy. Meanwhile, whisk together the baking powder, water and canola oil. Add the baking powder mixture and melted margarine to the yeast mixture and stir. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour and spices. Gradually add the the wet ingredients until a non-sticky dough forms. Knead dough on a floured surface for about ten minutes until it’s stretchy and smooth. (You can also use a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.) Form dough into a ball, place in an oiled glass bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place for about an hour, or until doubled in size.

Prepare the filling by creaming all ingredients together in a small bowl until well combined. Preheat your oven to 400 F and lightly grease a heavy cookie sheet.

Punch down the prepared dough onto a floured surface and roll into a 15 x 9 inch rectangle. Use a butter knife or the back of a spoon to spread the filling over the surface of the rectangle. Roll dough into a cylinder and slice into 12 pieces. Place evenly on the prepared cookie sheet and let rise for an additional 15 – 20 minutes. Cover with shrink wrap and place in the fridge until ready to bake, or progress immediately to the baking step if you want them right away!

Bake for 12 – 15 minutes until lightly browned on the bottom. Drizzle your favorite icing over the rolls while they’re still warm. These are best served immediately, but keep well for a couple of days stored in an airtight container.