Sweet Potato Pecan Cinnamon Rolls

What a perfect Sunday morning.  I woke up around nine to prepare the dough so these rolls would have time to rise. By the time they were in the oven, my housemates were just stumbling out of bed, lured to the kitchen by the smell of freshly baked cinnamon rolls.  After everyone helped themselves, Rose (housemate) and I sat at the kitchen table doing homework, drinking tea, and picking at leftover rolls for a couple of hours.  How relaxing.
This was my first attempt ever at making cinnamon rolls… wow.  Usually, I find the traditional Cinnabon-type roll way too sweet and overwhelming as a breakfast food.    I tend to prefer savory foods in the morning, and if I do eat something sweet I like it to be sweetened by fruit.  But these are vegan, and sweet potatoes are a vegetable, right?  I’d never seen a combination like this… so obviously I had to try it.
These buns have the perfect, doughy, cinnamon roll texture.  Even though there is no oil in the actual dough, the pureed sweet potato makes them so soft that you would never be able to tell.  The glaze has sweet potato in it too, but it isn’t too sugary sweet– each bite is the perfect combination of chewy, sweet and nutty.  Make these next time you have guests over for brunch, it will impress them for sure :).
Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls
Makes 8 rolls

Dough
1 cup almond milk, warmed in the microwave for 45 seconds or until it reaches around 100 degrees F
2 1/4 tsp (or 1 0.25 oz packet) active dry yeast, at room temperature
1/4 cup sweet potato mash
1 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour (plus up to 1/4 cup for kneading and rolling)
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp salt

Filling
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
2 Tbsp Earth Balance, melted
1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans

Sweet Potato Glaze
1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 1/2 Tbsp almond milk
2 Tbsp sweet potato mash
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Directions
Coat a 9-inch round cake pan with canola oil baking spray. Set aside.
Scatter yeast over warmed non-dairy milk and allow to activate for about 10 minutes, or until frothy (you may need to help out the yeast a bit by gently pushing it into the milk, but don’t stir the mixture quite yet).

Meanwhile, whisk together both kinds of flour, baking powder, 2 Tbsp brown sugar, spices, and salt in a large bowl.

In a small bowl, stir together the 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1 Tbsp cinnamon, and melted margarine. Stir in chopped pecans until well-coated. Set aside.

When yeast and milk mixture is bubbly, stir in the 1/4 cup sweet potato puree. Add wet ingredients into the dry and mix just until incorporated. Transfer dough onto a clean lightly floured surface and knead until soft and smooth, adding enough extra all-purpose flour to keep dough from sticking, about 2 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes.

Lightly flour work surface again and roll dough out to about 1/4-inch thickness, about a 12-inch x 9-inch rectangle. Sprinkle brown sugar, cinnamon, margarine, and pecan mixture evenly over the rolled-out dough, leaving about a 1-inch border around the perimeter. Starting at a short end, carefully and tightly roll the dough jelly roll-style, making sure the filling doesn’t come out at the sides. Gently pinch seam closed. Cut the roll into 8 even pieces and place in prepared pan. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 30-60 minutes. Either refrigerate, covered, overnight or proceed immediately to the next step.

Preheat over to 350° F.

Remove the towel and bake rolls at 350 degrees for about 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown on top.
While cinnamon rolls are baking, prepare the sweet potato glaze by blending the ingredients in a blender until smooth. (I used a whisk and mine had sweet potato chunks in it, not so pretty).

Remove rolls from the oven and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Run a butter knife around the outside of the rolls. Transfer rolls to a wire rack, glaze, and let sit for an additional 10 minutes before serving.

Recipe from Healthy Food for Living

Pictures by Sarah- check out her blog!

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