Cinnamon buns have long been to me the most tempting of offerings, always out of reach as I could never find a way of making them gluten, dairy, egg and yeast free – those ingredients (especially the yeast) being integral to their creation. Yet finally, and in nearly every way thanks to inspiration from the wonderful Sarah Britton at My New Roots, whose original recipe is the basis for this creation, I think there may well be a way of creating a cinnamon roll that offers all of the beauty and taste of the original kanelbulle but that can enjoyed by those of us eating free-from diets.
Walnuts have a true kinship with sticky and sweet, mellow flavours like cinnamon, toffee, maple syrup and apple and so what better way of drawing on their mellifluous scents than by combining their various forms, tastes and textures to make this most glorious treat.
The dough, made with a gluten-free flour blend, leavened simply with baking powder and bound with apple puree is rolled out and spread with a gooey, unctuous sweet date paste, delicately spiced with cinnamon and cardamom. I should be honest with you here and say that they are a noticeably denser than a leavened version would be but 1. That’s unavoidable without yeast and eggs 2. It also means no proving so cinnamon rolls in half the time! 3. It’s a small price to pay for such a heaven-scent (I know what I did there) treat. Plus, as Cinnamon Rolls are really meant to be served for breakfast or during Fika (why don’t we have this in England!) it seemed natural that they have a slightly more ‘wholesome’ consistency, all the better to soak up your almond milk latte with!
With Valentine’s just around the corner, treat your favourite person (or people), or frankly, just yourself, to a beautifully pleasing and delicious wintry treat, the Sweetheart Cinnamon Rolls. Note, these are best eaten when first made as they don’t keep so well, but if you do want to store them then do so in an airtight tin lined with a bit of baking paper.
SWEETHEART CINNAMON ROLLS
300g gluten free plain flour
½ tsp xanthan gum
4 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp golden caster sugar
200g apple puree
3 tbsp rapeseed or sunflower or melted coconut oil
For the filling
225g chopped dates
2 tsp cinnamon
A pinch of ground cardamom
A small pinch of sea salt
75g walnuts, chopped
3 tbsp pure maple syrup, to glaze
Preheat the oven to 190c and find a 10 inch/25cm round baking dish or cake tin.
Begin by making the filling. Remove the stones and chop the dates into small chunks. Place them in a saucepan with the water, cinnamon and cardamom. Bring to a simmer and then simmer gently, stirring occasionally until you have a chunky paste – this will take about 10-15 minutes and if you think the mixture looks a little dry you can add more water, you want a thick and unctuous but spreadable paste. Once made set aside to cool down while you make the dough.
Sift the flour, baking powder and xanthan gum into a large mixing bowl. Stir in the sugar, then pour over the rapeseed oil and apple puree and mix together until the dough begins to clump together. Then use your hands to pull the mixture into a ball and very lightly knead the dough until smooth to your touch and pliable.
Lay out two sheets of clingfilm onto your worktop, turn the dough onto one and use your hands to loosely shape it into a rectangular blog. Cover with the remaining sheet of clingfilm and then roll the dough into a rectangle, approximately 6 x 16 inches (that’s 16 x 41cm) in size – you will need to trim the edges to get a sharp line so feel free to do that and then roll in the trimmed pieces to your existing dough to get extra length.
Peel away the top layer of clingfilm and then spread the filling in an even layer over the dough and sprinkle with roughly chopped walnuts, reserving a handful for scattering at the end.
Beginning at the short end of the rectangle, and using the clingfilm to help pull up and shape the dough, roll the dough up carefully until you have one very large cinnamon roll. Use a sharp knife to then cut into seven smaller cinnamon roll rounds.
Place the cinnamon rolls in the baking dish or tin and bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven, allow to cool for five minutes and then drizzle over the maple syrup and sprinkle with the remaining walnuts.