Recently we discovered that we are happily able to consume spelt flour. What is spelt? Well, you can read a little about it here if you’d like. Spelt is an ancient grain and distant cousin of wheat in which many people find to be more easy to digest because of it’s high fiber and low, gluten content. Spelt is an excellent source of phytoestrogens and lignans, fiber, vitamin E, niacin and magnesium, and has a lower glycemic index. My son’s wheat allergy is a 2 on a 1-to-5 scale (5 being the strongest), and he has no sensitivity to spelt. Please note that If you have a strong or severe allergy to wheat and/or gluten, or have been diagnosed with celiac disease it is advised that you also avoid spelt flour. With that aside, I am quite excited on our new healthy grain discovery. Thinking of all the new things I’m going to create with spelt makes me happy (pies, tarts, pancakes…. the list goes on and on). One of the first things I made with spelt flour were these Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls…
These rolls are moist, and are delightfully cakelike in texture, as opposed to a flaky roll. When you take a bite, they are a beautiful pumpkin orange color and are filled with all the flavors you might associate with autumn. The bread is a sweet yeasted spelt dough with cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla. The filling is a quick-homemade pumpkin butter, sugar, cinnamon , with dried cranberries and chopped walnuts to keep it festive.
This recipe takes some time, but don’t let that scare you away from making them. The active time spent making them isn’t that long. It is letting the yeast work it’s magic that takes the most time. You can make this recipe in steps, starting with the dough, walking away to let it rise a couple of times before it’s time to bake. So start this recipe on a day where you have other tasks or things to do, and not on a day where you need a cinnamon roll in an instant. But they are so worth the time! The recipe makes 14 wonderful pumpkin cinnamon rolls that you can share with family, friends or co-workers; perfect for breakfast or brunch this time of year.
Spelt Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
yield: 14 servings
For the dough:
1/2 cup warm water
1 tablespoon organic cane sugar
1 1/4 ounce packet of active dry yeast
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup organic virgin coconut oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups organic spelt flour
1/4 cup organic cane sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
For the filling:
1 tablespoon vegan butter (I use earth balance soy-free), or organic virgin coconut oil
1/4 cup pumpkin butter (recipe follows)*
1/4 cup organic brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1/4 cup dried cranberries (optional)
Proof the yeast by first dissolving the 1 tablespoon of sugar into the warm water. Sprinkle the yeast on top of the water and let it sit for 10 minutes. When you return, the mixture should be bubbly and frothy, which means the yeast is active and you can proceed with the recipe. In a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment, combine the yeast mixture with the pumpkin, coconut oil, and vanilla; stir to combine. In a separate bowl, sift together the spelt flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Slowly add the flour mixture to the pumpkin-yeast mixture in the stand mixer. Mix with the stand mixer on low-speed until a soft dough forms. Remove the dough and add a small amount of oil back in the mixing bowl, pack the dough into a firm ball and place back into the bowl, rolling it around a bit to coat in oil. Place a sheet of plastic wrap on top of the bowl. Walk away and let the dough rise until it is double in size (approximately 2 1/2 hours).
When the dough has risen double it’s size, it’s ready to be rolled out and filled. First, place a large sheet of plastic wrap on a clean counter (you will need two sheets of plastic wrap, you want a square about 12-inch-by-12-inch). Sprinkle a bit of spelt flour onto the plastic and use your fingers to spread it around a bit; dust a rolling pin in a bit of spelt flour as well. Place the dough on the center of the plastic wrap and begin to roll it out until it’s about a 10-inch long rectangle and is about 1/4 inch thick. Use a flat spatula to spread on the filling ingredients in the order they are listed. Start with the end closest to you, and fold up the side using the plastic wrap to lift up the dough. Peel back the plastic and roll the dough a second time, and continue this until it is all rolled-up and in the shape of a log. Use a chef’s knife to slice in 16 rolls. The easiest way to achieve equal size rolls is to first cut the log in the center, and then cut the halves in their centers, and so on.
Line a large glass baking dish with parchment paper. Place the sliced rolls on the parchment, leaving about an inch or so apart. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and let rise until rolls have doubled in size. I waited about 6 hours, and it was well worth it. You could even let them rise overnight, and bake them fresh in the morning. Once rolls have risen, preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake for 25 minutes, rolls are done when firm when touched and make a nice little hollow sound when flicked.
I whipped up an icing to go on top of these rolls as well (although I think they are delicious without the icing). To make the icing, combine about 2 tablespoons of the pumpkin butter with my frosting recipe here. Heat in a saucepan on low-heat until warm, adding about a tablespoon or so of almond milk.
* Quick Stove-top Pumpkin Butter
Recipe makes about 1 cup of pumpkin butter which is a perfect filling for cinnamon rolls, or to spread on toast or pancakes. The orange extract is an optional ingredient, but it gives the pumpkin butter a very special and unique flavor.
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup almond milk
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons organic cane sugar
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon pure orange extract (optional)
Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and heat on medium-low heat stirring constantly for about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to very low, and let cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Let cool slightly before transferring to a jar. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use, or up to 2 weeks.