Quick Vegan Cinnamon Rolls and a Rainy Run with Mahler

Today’s run: 9+ moderately-hilly, cold, rainy, windy miles in about 90 minutes; Mahler 2 in its entirety. It was actually a really good run. It was drizzling when I set out, and I feared I would only be able to do 3 or so miles because of the rain (not because I don’t like the rain; I was worried about my IPod!). It continued to drizzle the whole time, but not enough to make me cut the run short. I got some funny looks from drivers-by – there’s very few runners in our town, let alone folks who run in shorts and a t-shirt when it’s 50 degrees and rainy out – but it was really a wonderful run. I prefer colder, greyer weather for running. It was quiet out; I did not see a single other person out, except for people in cars. Mahler is always a treat to listen to, and the 2nd symphony is truly a glorious work of art – hearing the organ come in at the end of the 5th movement always leaves me with chills. Such moving music. I came in from the run and made myself a BIG pot of Earl Grey, and enjoyed one of these cinnamon rolls. I have a stack of papers to grade by tomorrow, but I’ll get to those in a minute. 🙂

Did you ever have one of those moments when you told your parents you needed 5 dozen strawberry-frosted chocolate-filled vanilla cupcakes for school, and you needed them tomorrow, and oh, sorry, it’s 10:00 p.m. already?

Well, I had one of those moments last night. Except that I was the one being told that something was needed the next day, and it was by my husband, not my kid. Well, really, to be fair, he DID tell me earlier, much earlier, but….um….I sorta forgot until the night before that I promised to make him something. Whoops.

He needed some breakfast-y baked goods for a class he’s teaching. So I needed something quick and easy, something that I could make with ingredients I had on hand, and something that would appeal to a group of disgruntled, sullen, non-vegan teenagers….

Enter these yummy cinnamon rolls. They’re super easy, relatively healthy (I don’t generally cook low-fat on purpose, but these are certainly lower in fat than the average cinnamon rolls), and tasty.  They are not as hearty, substantial, or sophisticated as yeast-dough cinnamon rolls, but I didn’t have the time/patience to make yeast dough. These do the job when a sweet breakfast treat is required, quickly. Husband texted from his class to tell me they were a ‘smash hit’. Success!

Makes about 24  – recipe would be easily halved

1/2 cup sugar

4 cups flour (since I was making this for omnivores, I used all white flour – plus I had run out of whole wheat flour. I’m sure half whole wheat would work fine.)

2 tablespoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup oil

1 1/2 cups water

1 teaspoon vanilla


2 tablespoons vegan margarine, melted

cinnamon sugar – about 1/4 cup total, made however cinnamony you like it


1 cup confectioners’ sugar

a dash salt

1 1/2 tablespoons soy milk, more or less

(Note: you may want to make one-and-a-half times the frosting recipe; I only had a cup of confectioners’ sugar left, and this baaarely made enough to cover the rolls. If you like really gooey, sugary cinnamon rolls, using 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar and 3 tablespoons of soy milk).

preheat oven to 350.


Sift dry ingredients. Add wet and mix until just mixed. This is a variation on an old biscuit recipe; you want the dough thick and solid, sticky but not TOO sticky, and not runny at all.

Put about 1/2 the dough on a greased metal cookie sheet. Using your hands, pat out to about 1/4-1/2 inch thickness; you want a rectangle that is about 6 inches by 12-15 inches. This is approximate; these are cinnamon rolls, not rocket science, so don’t worry if your dough is not uniform in thickness or is not a perfect rectangle. It’ll all work out, I promise. The dough will be a little sticky; a little will stick to your hands, and that’s okay. However, if LOTS is sticking to your hands and you can’t effectively pat it down, add a little flour. The dough will be too thick to use a rolling pin.

Once you have a rectangle, smear about a tablespoon of the melted margarine over the dough; sprinkle cinnamon sugar liberally over that, going as far to the edges as you can (but again, it’s not rocket science, so don’t worry about being too precise here). Using both hands, roll the dough length-wise (i.e. start rolling one of the long sides towards the opposing long side. Gosh, there should be an easier way to explain this….you want a log that is the longer length, so a 12-15 inch log rather than a 6 inch log. Got it?). Again, you might get all stressed that this rolling thing is not going to work, since the dough is kind of sticky. Don’t worry. You might have a few little tears but keep rolling, using both hands at once so that the dough doesn’t pull back. Any tears will correct themselves in the end.

Slice into 1/2-3/4 inch slices, approximately. Place on a rimmed cookie or baking sheet, with one of the cut sides (cinnamony sides) up. Leave some space between each roll because they will puff up while baking. If you use an unrimmed sheet, the cinnamon-sugar might ooze out and fall onto your oven floor, causing an icky burning smell.

Bake at 350 for about 20-25 minutes, until golden and no longer moist on top.

Mix frosting ingredients; you want the frosting not too runny; thick enough that it will stay on the rolls instead of dripping off (but some drips are good), but runny enough to spread.

When they come out of the oven, frost with the frosting. Cool in the pans. Enjoy.

These would also be good with orange icing (using OJ instead of soy milk in the frosting) but alas, we did not have any OJ on hand.

Question: if you’re an exerciser, do you use an Ipod when working out? I got through my first marathon and first 2 half-marathons without an Ipod (for either the races or training). Now, however, I’m pretty darn dependent on my Ipod. I can survive without it for shorter runs, but those lonely country roads get awfully long without some music or podcasts to accompany me. Is anyone similarly addicted? I read about the beauty of being alone with one’s thoughts during a run; I love that idea in theory, but in practice, it only works for me for about the first 5 miles.


2 responses to “Quick Vegan Cinnamon Rolls and a Rainy Run with Mahler

  1. Girl, you have a lot more time on your hands than I do! How do you make all of these yummies and work?! About the running question…I, sad to say, have not been much of a runner in my life. I’ve done several 5k’s, but that’s about it. I suppose ipods weren’t even around when I was attempting to be a runner back in the day (I’m 40 now). Oh wait, I do remember carrying around one of those huge cd portable players…total pain! I will say that my husband is quite the runner and is totally addicted to running with his ipod. He has to listen to techno trance music….he loves the way it helps him keep a steady rate of speed…and deep down my little straight and narrow science geek wishes he was one of those goth people that hangs out in trance bars 😉 I imagine listening to classical is somewhat more peaceful 🙂

    • that is too funny! I love it – techno would be really good to run to. I tend to listen to pretty lively classical stuff (I’m not a fan of Mozart or other classical-era composers – boooooring!); especially when running, I need something dramatic or heavy or upbeat. I tend to like pretty dark stuff, both in terms of music and books and other stuff 🙂 Hence all the Mahler and Brahms!
      I also laughed about getting everything done – really, it’s very simple – we have very little in terms of a social life and our house is always covered in dog fur, toys, craft paper, etc. I am not much of a housekeeper and neither is my husband (although he does all the laundry and also does some cleaning). Also, I recently switched to working part-time, so I usually only go to the office 3 days a week. I sometimes work from work but not every day.
      If I didn’t fit in my run, though, I would be a total stress ball. It’s really more for my mental calmness than any physical benefit I derive from it!

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