Snow day! Here in Michigan, there is easily a foot of snow in my driveway this morning! Crazy. I shoveled my way out to the road, only to find that the snow is so deep, even if I shoveled out my driveway, the bottom of my car can’t physically clear the height of snow in the road. So I’m stuck here, at least until a plow comes through.
So. Who likes cinnamon rolls? Everyone? Good. Do you like apple pie? Even better. I personally don’t even like apple pie and I’m pretty sure these are the best cinnamon rolls I’ve ever eaten, perfect for a super-snowy day like today. Add to that, un-iced they’re only 100 calories EACH, and I’m pretty much in heaven!
I’ve tried probably 10 whole wheat, low fat/no fat cinnamon roll recipes and none of them were worth making twice– most weren’t even worth even making the first time. These cinnamon rolls are ooey gooey and come together pretty easily compared to other yeast recipes. You sacrifice nothing by opting for whole wheat and leaving our the butter and oil, everything about these cinnamon rolls is a win.
Let me explain the weird way I roll out my cinnamon rolls. I like to use a cookie sheet with raise edges spritzed with nonstick spray or lightly coated in flour. Use a rolling pin (or side of a round glass, smooth water bottle, etc) and flatten the dough so it meets the long edges of the pan. When rolling the dough up, roll from the short end of the pan to the other short end. By using the raised edges as a guide, you’ll be able to get filling all the way to the edges and will guarantee an evenly rolled cinnamon roll– no more ugly edges to cut off and waste. I also like to take my rolling pin and press down any filling gently to help keeping the filling in the rolls.
If you want a thicker, fluffier “roll” portion, use all of the dough instead of saving half for later. This wont impact rise time, but you’ll want to bake for 20 – 30 minutes. Nutritional estimate, below, is for the recipe as written.
2 tsp granulated sugar (honey or agave okay, no “sugar free” substitutions)
3 c + 3 tbsp white whole wheat flour
2 tsp salt
⅓ c almond milk
½ tsp butter flavor (optional)
2 medium apples (I used empire, fuji or another sweet/tart apple would work great)
⅓ c brown sugar or coconut sugar
½ tbsp cinnamon
Mix warm water, yeast, and sugar. Let sit 5 minutes until foamy (if it doesn’t get foamy, your yeast was dead or your water was too hot)
In a large bowl, whisk flour and salt.
Using a stand mixer with a dough hook (or a lot of elbow grease!) slowly add the yeast mixture to the flour and stir until it forms a ball. Add additional 3 tbsp water one tablespoon at a time, if necessary, to incorporate any flour remaining in the bottom of the bowl. You may need to knead by hand.
Using the hook on a low setting or kneading by hand, knead for 5 minutes. I typically split the time between hand and hook.
Cut the dough in half. Wrap one half in plastic and place in either the refrigerator or freezer– use this for cinnamon rolls later or bake as bread (following the same bake instructions as below, for 15 minutes)
Flatten the remaining dough slightly and cover. Allow to rise for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, peel and finely dice apples. Mix with brown sugar and cinnamon
After rising, punch down dough and roll out into an approximately 11” square.
Mix almond milk and ½ tsp butter flavor (optional). Using a pastry brush, paint a layer onto the dough. You want the dough to appear wet but not soaking. This milk layer will help keep the filling inside your cinnamon rolls.
Spread the apple filling over the dough, leaving a 1” gap on one side. If your filling as excess liquid, try not to get too much on the dough.
Roll tightly. Slice into 9 pieces.
Cover and let rise for 30 minutes more. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°. Fill a small dish with water and place on the bottom rack of the oven for the last ten minutes of rise time – leave this in the oven during baking.
Bake for about 18 – 25 minutes. I spritz mine with nonstick spray during the last 5-10 minutes to encourage browning.
Let cinnamon rolls cool for 5-10 minutes, top with icing and serve.
Combine all icing ingredients except sugar in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Once heated, slowly stir in sugar until dissolved.
Remove from heat and place in fridge/freezer to cool and thicken until use
Note: If you make up the apple filling and let sit, it will produce a lot of liquid — I sometimes use this liquid + powdered sugar to make the icing and skip the ingredients here. The amount of powdered sugar will depend on how juicy your apples are, but you can add milk if you need more.