Instead of butter and sugar, the filling rolled up inside these chocolate orange cinnamon rolls is made from dates, orange, and a little coconut oil blended together (so no sugar at all!) then topped with dark chocolate. The dough is orange scented and pillowy, with non-dairy milk and a little cinnamon mixed in. What I’m saying is that they’re much better than normal cinnamon buns, but just as easy to make.
If you’re not used to working with yeast, I don’t know that I can convince you to try it, but this is a good place to begin if you’re interested in trying sweet doughs. It’s pretty forgiving and easy to work with, and you’re not doing any complicated shapes or twists.
The dough is my go-to for any cinnamon buns or other sweet breads, just with the addition of orange zest and some hazelnut oil, which is optional. It seems a bit fancy but I promise it’s simple, and rolls are so fun. There’s an even easier yeasted cake recipe on the blog for a rhubarb streusel cake if you want to try that first to get a feel for it. There are a lot of notes at the end of the recipe, but just because I want you to succeed, not because it’s complicated.
The method for the liquid ingredients is a touch different for this recipe, because you heat them on the stove, then cool slightly before whisking in the yeast. Just make sure it’s not boiling hot when you add the yeast; the milk should be just warmer than your skin if you touch it. If it’s too hot it’ll kill the yeast. My house is freezing so I place rising dough on top of a radiator (it’s topped with a stone slab) but placing it near a radiator or in the oven with a light on will do the trick.
I chose not to make a cream or icing, but if you’d like one, try the citrus cream from my vegan cream scones recipe, just substituting orange for the bergamot. You can go a more traditional cream cheese route if you prefer (maybe with coconut yogurt labneh) or simply have them as is. They’re good without anything on top but sometimes you just need a little icing.
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Chocolate, Orange, and Date Cinnamon Buns
- 250 ml non-dairy milk
- 60 ml light-tasting oil*
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
- 2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast**
- Zest of an orange
- 400 – 480 grams spelt flour***
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 100 grams packed soft dates soaked if needed
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil
- Juice of an orange ~3 tablespoons
- Zest of an orange
- 50 grams dark chocolate
- Add the milk, oil, and maple syrup to a small saucepan and heat on low until just warm to the touch. Pour the milk mixture into a large heatproof bowl and whisk in the yeast. Let it rest for about 15 minutes, or until foaming.250 ml non-dairy milk, 60 ml light-tasting oil*, 2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
- Stir in the orange zest, 1 cup of flour, cinnamon, and salt. Add the remaining flour in 1/2 cup increments, stirring between each addition, until it becomes too difficult to stir. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured countertop and knead, adding more flour as needed, until a soft and smooth dough forms, about ten minutes.2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast**, Zest of an orange, 400 – 480 grams spelt flour***, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- Oil a large bowl and place the dough in it. Brush a little oil onto the top of the dough, cover, and set the bowl in a warm place to rise until doubled in size, about one hour.
- Line a 20 cm (8 inch) springform pan with parchment paper. Punch the dough down and place it onto a floured surface. Roll it out to about 2 cm thickness and spread the filling equally over the dough, then top with the dark chocolate. Roll the dough up lengthwise and cut into 5 cm wide pieces. Place the pieces into the prepared pan, cover, and set in a warm place to rise again for 30 minutes.50 grams dark chocolate
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Once the buns are finished rising the second time, place them on the centre rack in the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until golden. Serve warm if you can and keep any extras in a sealed container at room temperature for up to three days.
- Blend the dates, coconut oil, orange juice, and zest until smooth in a food processor or high speed blender. If it’s not becoming smooth, add a tablespoon of nondairy milk.100 grams packed soft dates, 3 tablespoons coconut oil, Zest of an orange, Juice of an orange
* For American cup measurements, please click the pink link text above the ingredient list that says ‘American’.
Nutrition is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate. If this information is important to you, please have it verified independently.