I ended up accidentally skipping last week’s post. My brother came to town to visit for an extended weekend and although we actually did some baking together, we only made a small batch of ice cream up eating the sandwiches and ended m before any pictures could be snapped. Sometimes you just have to just enjoy your ice cream before it melts.
Taking the week off, though, must have charged my baking batteries, because these Vegan Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls are expletive-using good. I dropped one off on my partner’s desk while he wasn’t paying attention and a few minutes later he tracked me down in the kitchen to cuss about how good they were and grab another.
The dough for the buns is a basic yeasted sweet dough, so although that means that you have to patiently suffer through two rises, you’ll end up with fluffy, tear-apart tender bread. The filling is very similar to any old cinnamon bun, but with the conventional sugar swapped out for coconut sugar, given them a hint of molasses slightly more complicated than your standard brown sugar (although if you can’t find coconut sugar feel free to use brown sugar or sucanat).
Chopped apples are heavily dotted throughout the gluten free vegan cinnamon rolls so you get soft squares of fruit in every bite. The best part of each apple cinnamon buns might be the bottom, where the excess goo soaks into the bread perfectly.
The caramel drizzled over the top of the buns while still warm is kind of the real show-stopper, though. It’s far easier than a traditional caramel, requiring just one or two ingredients and a little time on the stove. It’s made by taking a litre of apple juice (fresh or from a carton, I used Kiju) and simmering it until it is reduced to about a fourth of its original volume, at which point it becomes thick and intensely flavourful.
You can serve it as is, or add a couple tablespoons of vegan butter or coconut oil to get a creamier consistency. It’s both sweet and tart, and while pairing an apple roll with an vegan caramel apple might not be all the innovative, the intense apple-hood (?) of the caramel is so unique, it’s not at all boring or overkill.
Vegan Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls Recipe
Vegan Apple Cinnamon Buns with Apple Juice Caramel
For the dough
- 2 tbsp ground flax
- 3 tbsp warm water
- 1 flax egg (2 tbsp ground flax + 3 tbsp warm water)
- 1/3 cup organic cane sugar
- 1 cup warm water
- 2 1/2 tsp dry active yeast
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/3 cup melted coconut oil or grapeseed oil
- 3 1/2 cup ap flour or light spelt flour
For the filling
- 3 tbsp coconut oil, melted
- 1 1/4 cup coconut sugar or brown sugar
- 1 tbsp heaping cinnamon
- pinch salt
- 3-4 apples, peeled and diced
For the caramel
- 1 l apple juice
- 2 tbsp vegan butter or coconut oil
- Start by making the dough: in a small bowl mix together flax and 3 tbsp warm water. In a large bowl, dissolve 1 tsp sugar into 1 cup water and sprinkle on yeast. Let both bowls sit for about 10 minutes until flax mixture is thickened and yeast mixture is foamy.
- To the yeast mixture, add flax egg, vanilla, lemon juice and oil. In a separate bowl, mix together remaining sugar, 3 cups flour and salt. Add to the wet ingredients and stir until a shaggy dough comes together. Begin kneading, adding the remaining 1/2 cup flour as needed until you have a soft, uniform ball of dough. Place is a greased bowl and turn to coat. Cover and let rise until doubled, about an hour.
- After risen, roll out dough on a floured surface to a thin triangle, about 13" by 18". Brush with the 3 tbsp of melted coconut oil.
- To make the filling, combine coconut sugar with cinnamon and a pinch of salt. Sprinkle evenly over the oiled dough. Next, evenly sprinkle on the diced apple.
- Tightly roll up the dough starting with a long edge. Place seam side dough and cut the dough log into even pieces, about 12.
- Generously grease a large skillet or rectangular pan and arrange the cut rolls with even spaces between them. Brush with soy milk or additional melted coconut oil, if desired. Set aside to rise a second time, for about 30 minutes. The rolls should be fitting together snugly after the second rise.
- Bake is a 350F oven for 30 to 34 minutes, until the tops are golden.
- To make the caramel (note, you can start the caramel during the second rise of your buns)
- Place the apple juice in a saucepan over high heat and bring to a gentle boil. Immediately reduce the heat to a simmer and keep it simmering until the juice has reduced to about 1/4 of its original volume. It should be visibly thick (this took about 40 minutes for me, but keep checking. There's no need to stir or fuss over it while it's reducing, but mind it doesn't burn). Turn off the heat and add in butter or oil and stir in well. Drizzle caramel over warm buns and enjoy.