Classic buttery cinnamon rolls made with a sourdough starter and no yeast. Easy, delicious and not too sweet!
These sourdough cinnamon rolls have the same flakiness as your classic cinnamon rolls but are slightly less sweet. The fermented sourdough starter adds a subtle tang, which is actually addictive!
The basics of a sourdough starter
Many sourdough guides are really complicated so here are my cherry-picked tips, without any compromise on the fermentation and taste.
To begin, you need your own sourdough starter, which is basically flour mixed with water and fermented over a few days. If you already have a sourdough starter, you’re good to go! Or you need to create a sourdough starter from scratch? Here are a couple of options:
- If you want to make your starter from scratch, use this recipe from Bake with Jack. Due to accessibility, I use plain flour for my starter and it does the trick!
- If you can take 20g of someone’s sourdough starter, great! Add it to a jar with 50g plain flour and 50g lukewarm water and mix until combined. Loosely cover it with a lid and leave it at room temperature or a warm spot overnight. When the starter is bubbly and has doubled in size, you’re good to go!
Feeding your sourdough starter
To keep your starter alive, you need to feed it (just like a baby or a plant)!
The Perfect Loaf explains how to feed your starter in some detail. Normally, you need to discard the majority of your bubbly starter every day or every few days, mix in some flour and water and repeat until you need to bake with it. When I first got my starter, I did this for about 1 week, got fed up with it then researched simplier and less time-consuming methods.
Ingredients for sourdough cinnamon rolls
To make the dough for the rolls, you only need five ingredients including:
- Plain or all-purpose flour
- Cane sugar or coconut sugar
- Active and bubbly sourdough starter
- Melted vegan butter
- Plant-based milk, such as soy, coconut or almond.
For more ‘wholesome’ rolls, you can substitute the plain flour for spelt or wholemeal flour. The rolls won’t be as fluffy but you’ll get more fibre in your body!
Making the dough
Once you have all the ingredients, simply pop them into a stand mixer or large bowl then mix or knead it for a few minutes. This activates the gluten and allows it to be soft and stretchy.
Initially, it’ll look quite shabby with pockets of flour or milk. However, just keep kneading until it forms a smooth and cohesive dough! The dough should come away from the side of the bowl. If it doesn’t knead until it does!
There’s no major difference between using a stand mixer or your hands. You’ll just get a free arm workout if you do it by hand ;).
Resting the dough
Place the dough in a bowl, cover it with a tea towel and place it in a warm area. In an hour or so, the dough should increase in size.
From the angle of these pictures, you can’t see the dough doubling in size, but I promise it did! It may not have ‘doubled’ in size because it’s cold where I am right now but I know they’ll increase in size later.
How to prepare the sourdough cinnamon rolls
If you’ve made cinnamon rolls before, these are a breeze to make. But if this is your first time, don’t fear!
Roll out the dough to form a rough rectangle then brush it with your melted butter.
Liberally sprinkle on the cinnamon sugar – this is the most delicious part! Then rub it in so it doesn’t go everywhere when you roll up the roll.
To roll the dough, imagine it is like a jam roll but FIRMER. Try to make sure there are no gaps when you roll the dough. I like using both hands so both ends of the dough are rolled evenly.
I prefer cutting the dough with a very sharp knife. Some people use a serrated knife or tooth floss (though neither have worked for me).
Cutting into the dough may squish the cinnamon rolls but simply reshape them with your hands…. or don’t, it won’t hurt either way!
Resting the rolls
Place your rolls in a baking dish and let it rest for the second time. You can rest them for 1 hour or overnight in the fridge.
Just make sure you bring them back to room temperature before you bake them :).
Frosting the cinnamon rolls
The recipe includes a basic vanilla frosting flavoured with MAPLE syrup because it’s delicious!
However, If you prefer refined sugar-free cinnamon rolls, eat them without frosting or drizzle them with only maple syrup.
I hope you enjoy this recipe!
Other recipes for cinnamon rolls, scrolls and buns:
Sourdough cinnamon rolls with a maple vanilla glaze (vegan)
- 3 cups (375g) plain or all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- ~1/3-3/4 cup (75g-150g)* bubbly and active sourdough starter, to taste
- 1/2 cup (125mL) plant-based milk, such as almond, soy or coconut, lukewarm
- 1/2 cup (115g) vegan butter or margarine, melted
- 3 tbsp (38g) organic cane sugar, or coconut sugar
- 2 tbsp (30g) vegan butter or margarine, melted
- 3 tbsp (35g) brown sugar, or coconut sugar
- 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
Maple Vanilla frosting**
- 1/2 cup (120g) vegan cream cheese, softened
- 1/4 cup (25g) powdered sugar, or to taste
- 2 tbsp (40g) maple syrup
- Dash of vanilla bean extract or powder
- Add all the roll ingredients to a stand mixer with the dough hook or a large bowl. Mix until combined. Knead for about 3-5 minutes or until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl and forms a soft dough. If the dough is too wet, add a little more flour and knead until it's no longer sticky (avoid doing this if you can as it'll make the rolls drier). If the dough is too dry, add a dash of milk and knead until it forms a smooth dough.
- Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel. Set it aside in a warm spot for 1 hour or until the dough has increased or doubled in size.
- To prepare the filling: Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.
- Dust a clean surface with flour. Scoop the dough onto the surface and roll it out into a large rectangular shape.
- Use a pastry brush to spread the melted butter or margarine on the dough, making sure it reaches all edges. Liberally sprinkle the cinnamon sugar and rub it into the surface with your fingertips.
- If your dough is too soft to be rolled, chill it in the fridge for at least 10 minutes. Starting from the long side, tightly roll the dough into a large tube. Use a sharp knife to cut rolls out of the dough.
- Place the rolls on a baking tray, leaving a little space between each roll to allow them to spread. Cover the tray with a damp tea towel and allow them to rise for at least 1 hour. You can do this step overnight if you leave the rolls in the fridge.
- When you're ready to bake the rolls, preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
- When the oven is hot, bake the rolls for 15-20 minutes. The rolls are ready when they are slightly golden brown or when you insert a skewer in one of the middle rolls and it doesn't have wet dough on it. Set aside to cool.
- To make the frosting: Whisk all of the ingredients in a small until smooth and there are no lumps. Generously drizzle the frosting onto the rolls.
- The rolls are best eaten the day they are baked. Alternatively, store them in an airtight container at room temperature for 1-2 days or in the fridge for 3-4 days. Warm up the rolls before you enjoy them.
This recipe and post was originally published in March 2019 and updated in May 2020.
Please leave a comment below if you made this recipe, have any questions or thoughts! Your comment will help other readers and Rainbow Nourishments.