Using mashed potatoes in the dough of these cinnamon rolls creates a SUPER fluffy texture and helps the buns stay softer and moister for longer. They’ll still be best on the day they’re baked but are still delicious on the following days, especially when warmed back up in the oven for 10 minutes.
Using mashed potato in bread dough:
Usually, enriched yeast doughs rely on additions of fat (mainly butter) and/or eggs to produce a light, fluffy texture. When making vegan doughs we can substitute the butter easily for a vegan butter but the eggs can be a difficult one to replace properly. They help add moisture to the dough and provide structure whilst not making the baked bread too firm.
Adding cooked potatoes is a great way to replace the eggs as the starch in potatoes can bind more water than wheat flour can and thus holds more water in the dough, producing a soft, tender texture. The other advantage is that potatoes are cheap, readily available and quick to prep.
Kneading wet doughs:
Due to the inclusion of the mashed potato and vegan butter in this dough, it is quite sticky. The easiest option here is to knead the dough in a stand mixer with the dough hook attached however I know most people don’t have that option. And it’s unfair to not be able to make cinnamon rolls just because you don’t have a piece of fancy kit!
SO to knead by hand you can do this two different ways:
1. Usual kneading technique:
folding the dough over itself and pushing forward in a repeating movement until the dough passes the windowpane test (more on that below). You’ll have to continuously be dusting the dough with a LIGHT sprinkle of flour to stop it sticking to everything – make sure you’re incorporating as little extra flour as possible.
2. Slap & Fold Kneading technique:
This is a better method for kneading wet doughs as you don’t need to add extra flour: lift the dough up, slap it down on the counter very firmly and fold it over itself so it folds in half. Pull your hands out then lift the dough up again and repeat this. The dough will start to stick to the countertop and your hands – this is fine! You may need to occasionally ‘reset’ by using a bench scraper to scrape everything into a neat ball again & rubbing the dough off your hands. You repeat this action until the dough passes the windowpane test. It should also gradually get less sticky as the dough approaches being done. See video above to help.
How do I know when bread dough is properly kneaded?
Most recipes for bread dough will tell you to knead until the dough is less sticky and appears smooth. Whilst these can be helpful indicators of gluten development (i.e. the goal of kneading dough) you can do a better test to your dough to see if it’s ready: the windowpane test.
The windowpane test
To do this, break off a small piece of dough around the size of a walnut shell. Flour your hands if the dough is super sticky. Gently stretch the dough between your fingers until it’s thin enough to see your fingers through when held up to the light. If it breaks before you get it thin enough do this, you know you have some more kneading to do! See video above to help.
Cinnamon roll filling:
It’s inevitable that some of the gooey cinnamon-sugar-butter mixture will seep out of the rolls as they bake but there is an addition which can make the filling a little bit thicker so more likely to cling to the inside of the rolls: cornflour (i.e. cornstarch). By mixing some into the filling, the cornstarch will gelatinise as the rolls bake, thickening the filling slightly. If you bake the rolls in a deep baking dish instead of on a baking tray, you’ll also find that the goo has less space to spread into so the cinnamon rolls will seem to have more filling inside.
To make the filling easily spreadable you’ll need your vegan butter to be well softened. If, like me, you usually forget to do this, you can mix a splash of boiling/very hot water into the filling. This will loosen it up just enough to make it spreadable.
A note on yeast:
I prefer to use instant yeast (a.k.a. easy-bake yeast) which can be mixed straight into the dry ingredients. If you can’t get this type of yeast, make sure you read the instructions on the yeast packet to check if it needs to be combined with water before being mixed into the dry ingredients. If this is the case, just mix your yeast into the potato-butter-water mixture before adding to the flour mixture.
Vegan Cinnamon Rolls
- 120 g mashed potato (you'll need 1 medium potato)
- 475 g plain white flour or white bread flour
- 40 g granulated sugar
- 2 tsp instant yeast (easy-bake yeast)
- 1 tsp fine table salt
- 50 g vegan butter or vegetable oil I use Naturli block butter
- 240 g lukewarm water
- 200 g dark brown sugar
- 75 g vegan butter I use Naturli block butter
- 10 g ground cinnamon
- 2 tsp cornflour (cornstarch)
- 1 tbsp boiling water optional
Make the mashed potato:
- Peel and quarter a medium potato. Place into a small pot and just cover with cold water. Bring to the boil over a high heat then simmer for 8-10 minutes until very soft. Drain and return the potatoes to the pot. Whilst still hot, mash the potatoes until lump-free. Weigh out 120 g of the mash to use in the recipe.120 g mashed potato
Make the dough:
- Combine the flour, sugar, yeast and salt in a large bowl and stir to combine.475 g plain white flour or white bread flour, 40 g granulated sugar, 2 tsp instant yeast (easy-bake yeast), 1 tsp fine table salt
- Mix the butter (or vegetable oil) into the mashed potato until smooth then stir in the lukewarm water. Pour all of this into the bowl of flour mixture and stir together to get a shaggy dough.50 g vegan butter or vegetable oil, 240 g lukewarm water
- Tip the contents of the bowl out onto a clean work surface and knead together, dusting lightly with flour as needed to prevent sticking – try to add as little flour as possible. You can alternatively use the 'slap & fold' method as explained in the blog post above the recipe. Knead for around 10 minutes until the dough passes the windowpane test (see notes).
- Place the dough back into the bowl you used earlier. Drizzle a little oil on top and turn to coat. Cover the bowl with a clean bin bag and leave somewhere warm to rise for 1.5 to 2 hours, until doubled in volume.
Make the filling:
- Combine the dark brown sugar, butter, cinnamon and cornflour in a medium bowl. If the filling is looking a bit crumbly/dry, add the boiling water and mix until smooth and creamy.200 g dark brown sugar, 75 g vegan butter, 10 g ground cinnamon, 2 tsp cornflour (cornstarch), 1 tbsp boiling water
Roll & shape:
- Uncover the risen dough and punch it down then tip out onto a lightly floured work surface. Roll out into a 35 x 50 cm rectangle. Dot the filling over the surface of the dough and use a spatula (or butter knife) to spread the filling evenly over the whole surface.
- Starting at one of the short edges, roll the dough up tightly into a log. You can pop this log onto a baking tray and freeze for 10 minutes to make the next step a bit neater – this isn't 'necessary' but will make the rolls cut more cleanly.
- Cut the log of dough into 12 equal pieces then place each one cut side up onto a lined baking tray. Cover with a clean bin bag and place somewhere warm to rise for 30-40 minutes until puffy.
- 10 minutes before your buns are fully risen, preheat your oven to 180°C fan (350°F fan) or 200°C non-fan (400°F non-fan).
- Remove the bin bag from the tray of cinnamon rolls. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden. Allow to cool before storing in an airtight container for up to 3 days.