I wanted to have cinnamon rolls to feed my kids on Easter and Christmas mornings, just like my mom always did, but I wanted them to be easier to make and be egg and dairy free. Easy peasy! (That last bit was sarcasm.)
But I finally figured out the perfect solution for my family. The recipe I use is actually the white bread recipe that came with my bread machine, very slightly modified. Because I am able to make these in the bread machine it is so super easy, but if you don't have a machine you can still use a good, ole fashioned bowl and spoon.
1 1/3 C water
4 Tbsp vegetable oil
4 heaping Tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
4 C flour + more for kneading
1 1/2 tsp yeast
Butter or dairy-free butter-like spread such as Earth Balance, approximately 2 Tbsp
1/3 C sugar + 2 Tbsp cinnamon, mixed together
2 C powdered sugar
2 dashes of salt
1 Tbsp water (or more depending on desired consistency)
*Honestly, for the filling and the icing I have never measured anything so these are approximate. If you like your rolls more or less cinnamon-y then adjust accordingly. Likewise, if you like more or less icing on your rolls - you guessed it! - adjust accordingly.
**I use this recipe for dinner rolls, soup bowls, bread to serve with stew, Santa Lucia buns, and more. I've found a vegan bread recipe that tastes great and I make it work for whatever I need. For non sweet breads I use 3 Tbsp sugar instead of 4 heaping Tbsp. For the Santa Lucia buns I add saffron. I have found that all you have to do is change the shape, maybe the ingredients, and possibly the baking time and this recipe can become a lot of things.
Bread Machine Directions: Add all ingredients to bread machine in order they are listed. Choose Dough setting, start, walk away.
Place dough in a large, lightly greased, oven-proof bowl and cover. Keep in a warm place until dough has doubled, about 60 minutes. (I like to pre-heat my oven to its lowest setting, then turn off, and allow my dough to rise there.)
Risen dough in bread machine should be
popping up over the top of the basket.
Next Step for Both Methods:
Once Bread Machine is done or dough in bowl has doubled turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and with a lightly floured rolling pin roll out into a 9x13 rectangle.
Cover dough with butter or Earth Balance Spread and then sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture.
Roll the dough up so you have a thick, long rope, seam-side down.
Cut off the uneven ends and discard (or, you know, eat). Cut the rolled dough in half, then cut each half in half. Cut each quarter section into thirds so you have twelve slices.
Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Allow rolls to cool before icing.
King Cake Method:
If you want to turn the cinnamon rolls into King Cake you line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and arrange the sliced rolls in a circle. Rise, bake, and ice as directed above. Sprinkle with green, yellow, and purple decorating sugar.
Some prefer their King Cake with a cream cheese filling and to do so I just substitute cream cheese in place of the butter. Tofutti makes a good dairy-free "cream cheese."
You can use this at Epiphany or Mardi Gras - both are appropriate times to feast on King Cake. If you have a little plastic baby Jesus you can tuck him in the underside of one of the rolls once they have baked. Then the person who finds the baby Jesus is King for the Day - which can mean whatever you want in your home.