Guest Post::Vegan Sticky Buns

I invited my friend Chanelle Gontarz to share some baking secrets in the Veggietorial’s Kitchen. Y’ all know that I do not bake, but she tricked me into making these fabulous sticky buns and they turned out awesome.  Follow her blog The Vegan VirtuosoInstagram or Pheed for some wickedly delicious food and funnies.

To protect the world from devastation. To unite all peoples within our nation. To denounce the evils of truth and lo– Wait. What? Oh. MY bio? Hmm… Well, I’m a stay-at-home mom to a rambunctious kid, the wife of a Navy submariner, and a Navy veteran. A pajama-loving, coffee-drinking gal from small-town KS loving life in VA, cooking, baking, learning and growing with my son, and being as supportive as I can for my husband. Our family is owned by two rescued cats who kindly allow us to live in their house and feed them. I was inspired to go plant-based by two people: Rhiannon, who proved to me that the health concerns of a plant-based diet are nothing to worry about. She managed a vegan diet while pregnant with identical twin girls (!!). And Chris, whose work with PETA is amazing, as is his willingness to eat anything vegan put in front of him — an absolute joy to a compulsive baker.

Most of my childhood memories feature some sort of food. That’s very likely true of a lot of people, but I think especially true of those who spent a lot of time around their extended family. Every family gathering involved massive amounts of food — rolls, potatoes, noodles, several kinds of meat, lots of sides, candies, and an assortment of pies — but it’s never that kind of food that I miss. The foods I find myself going to when I want something comforting to ease homesickness or pick up my mood are the ones I rummaged from my grandmother’s fridge. Meatloaf and mashed potatoes. Garden veggie soup. Chicken and noodles. And, of course, those special foods you had to have perfect timing (or an Aunt in close proximity to Gramma’s house and a quick dial-finger) for, like her famous Sticky Buns. Warm, sweet, gooey, fluffy, and drenched from top to bottom in her secret caramel sauce. It was a favorite game of us cousins to see how many fresh buns we could eat before she kicked us outside to play again.

While I’ve found close vegan analogs to my favorite comfort foods (usually in the freezer section, aisle 12), the Sticky Bun Fix just hadn’t been met. Could I make a vegan Sticky Bun worthy of the name? Could I approximate that famous caramel sauce? Will Lassie get to the farm house in time??? Challenge = Accepted.

A quick search on The Google brought up a great starter recipe on VegWeb here. So, with a few tweaks and lots of shenanigans, THIS happened:

Total awesomeness.

I know, I know — what if you have no baking skyllz? Grab your trusty thermometer and come with me down the path of delicious enlightenment. The way is long, but the journey is easy and the reward is bliss.

Gather your ingredients first. You have lots of time with this recipe because the yeast will be proofing, or the dough will be rising or the rolls will be baking… Relax. Establish a flow. I’ll walk you through it. Don’t be frightened.

It’s really key to have your milk, sugar, and water mixture at the correct temperature. Too high and you kill the yeast. Too low, and it doesn’t activate. If you don’t have an instant digital thermometer, use the “baby-bottle” test. The liquid should be hot but not uncomfortably so.
When your yeast has properly activated, you’ll know — it’ll have a nice head of foam on it, just like a great beer. It can take anywhere from 10-20 minutes to get like this. This is when you’ll add your softened margarine.
The yeast mixture and the 2 ¼C of flour will form a very soft, sticky dough.

You’ll add ½C flour and start kneading. Dig in with the heel of your hand to squash the dough, then gently fold in half. Scrape up and bits that stick to the bowl as you go. Don’t rip the dough — this breaks the gluten proteins that are forming and will make your rolls tough and chewy. You want to strrrrreeeeetttch the dough, not break it.

When you’re done kneading, roll the dough into a cute little ball. Spray your bowl with oil or cooking spray and roll the ball around to completely coat it. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it somewhere warm and free from drafts to rise for an hour. I usually heat my oven to about 150F before I start prepping, then turn it off and let it cool until I get to this stage. Then, I slip the covered bowl in.
I usually prep my ingredients for the filling while the yeast is foaming and mix it all up during the dough rise. I like coconut oil because of the flavor, but if you want a healthier option, you could also use 2-4T unsweetened applesauce. You’re really just wanting something that will moisten the filling ingredients. I would not recommend water, as the steam from it can make your rolls chewy.

When prepping the “caramel” sauce, coat your spoon in coconut oil or cooking spray to make it easier to get the syrup off the spoon — otherwise, you’ll have a hard time getting that clingy stuff off. It’s lonely and just wants to be held.
Oil a 9”x13” pan before you add half the prepared sauce. Tilt the pan from side to side to cover the bottom in a thin layer. It’s also a good idea to prep your rolling surface before the dough is done rising.

Double dough.

Roll your dough into a rectangle. Don’t worry if you have to fold it over on itself. Do what you need to do. It’ll still taste fantastic. (I promise.)

Sprinkle on your date mixture and any other fillin’s. I like to use unsweetened coconut powder, which I found at an Indian grocery, and ground flaxseeds. Feel free to use whole flaxseeds, chopped nuts, dried fruit, toenail clippings, or whatever else you find appetizing. If you have some Linwood’s left over after making the Not Yo Mama’s Meatloaf, that would be an excellent addition. That meatloaf, by the way, would be an excellent side dish to serve with these Sticky Buns. I kid, I kid! Always eat your dinner BEFORE dessert, kids!

As you roll your dough into its big fat Pimp Daddy cigar, feel free to mutter under your breath, “They see me rollin’, they hatin’.” for motivation. We’re almost done.
Seal the seam just to be safe.
Trim the ends and start slicing. You don’t have to be perfect, but get them all close to the same thickness for even baking. An inch thick is the accepted norm. You’ll get anywhere from 10-13 buns, usually.

Arrange the rolls in the dish so that they have a little bit of space between them. It’s also okay if they’re touching each other a little. You want to give them a little room to rise a tiny bit more, just to regain some of the fluffiness from all the stress you just put them through. When they touch, they’re ready for the oven.

Pour your newly-prepped caramel icing sauce over the tops after the rolls have cooled for a few minutes. Let it sit just long enough to soak in some — usually about 5 minutes. I know you’re ready to dish one up and tear into it!

Recipe and photos courtesy of the lovely Chanelle Gontarz

Guest Post::Vegan Sticky Buns
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Guest Post::Chanelle Gontarz,The Vegan Virtuoso Ooey Gooey Vegan Sticky Buns
Serves: 12 servings
  • For the Buns
  • ¾C water
  • 3T soy milk powder {or use ¾C soy milk,omit ¾C water}
  • ¼C sugar
  • ¼C cold filtered water
  • 1 T active dry yeast
  • ¼C non-hyrdrogenated margarine, softened
  • 4oz dried pitted California dates, roughly chopped {or another type of date -- I just happened to have these on hand}
  • ½C firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1T cinnamon
  • ¼C coconut oil, melted
  • 2¼C unbleached AP flour + ½C + more as needed
  • 1-2T coconut powder, unsweetened
  • 1 T flaxseed
  • (1/2C finely chopped nuts, ½T wheat germ or sesame seeds, etc., optional)
  • For the Caramel Sauce
  • ¼C non-dairy milk {I used coconut-almond}
  • 2-3 T brown rice syrup
  • 1 T corn starch
  • 1 tsp + ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1-2 C powdered sugar
  1. Whisk ¾C water and soy milk powder together. Microwave 1 min. Stir in sugar until dissolved, then add the cold water. Using a kitchen thermometer, wait for this milk mixture to cool to between 110-115F. Stir in the yeast until it has dissolved. Set aside.
  2. Add dates to blender and pulse until they form a thick paste. In a small bowl, combine dates, brown sugar, cinnamon, and coconut oil. Use a fork to break up any really large remaining chunks of dates.
  3. Stir margarine into the yeast mixture.
  4. In a large bowl, add 2¼C flour. Stir in yeast mixture just until a soft dough forms. Scrape any flour off the sides of the bowl to incorporate it. Mix in ½C flour. Knead the bread in the bowl, about 5-10 minutes, until the bread is smooth and elastic.
  5. Oil the bowl and turn the dough to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and place somewhere warm to rise for about an hour or until roughly doubled in size.
  6. Preheat oven to 350F.
  7. Turn dough out onto a floured or nonstick surface and roll into a rectangle. I put my dough on a medium Silpat (roughly 11x16) and simply use it as a guide, rolling the dough to the edges of it.
  8. Crumble the date mixture evenly onto the dough, breaking up any large chunks of sugar. Sprinkle with coconut powder and ground flaxseeds (and any other fillings). Beginning with a short (11") side, roll the dough. Place seam-side down on the silpat and set aside.
  9. In a small bowl, whisk together ¼C nd-milk, brown rice syrup, and corn starch. Microwave 30 sec. Stir in 1 tsp vanilla. Microwave 30 sec.
  10. Pour about half the syrup mixture into the bottom of a greased 9"x13" pan.
  11. Trim up the ends of your roll by cutting the "rough" edges. Cut cinnamon rolls nearly an inch thick. Place in prepared pan, with just a little space between them. If they touch a little, that's okay, too. Cover and let rise 10-20 minutes, until rolls are noticeably larger and they are touching.
  12. Bake at 350F for 15-25 minutes.
  13. To the remaining syrup mixture, add ½tsp vanilla. Whisk in 1-2C powdered sugar, starting with 1C and adding in ¼C-1/2C increments until desired consistency is reached.
  14. Allow rolls to cool at least 5 minutes before pouring icing over them, then let sit 3-5min more.
  15. NOTES:
  16. *It’s important to use glass or “non-reactive” bowls when mixing/proofing yeast. If you use a metal bowl, Science happens and the yeast won’t activate properly.
  17. *No soy milk powder? No worries! Use your favorite soy or coconut milk.
  18. *If you decide to use "instant" or "rapid rise" yeast, 1 packet (1/4oz ; 2 1⁄4tsp) will suffice. The rising times will be shorter and you won't need to allow them to rise before going in the oven (unless you want to)
  19. *If you want your cinnamon rolls to have a harder exterior, space them apart in the baking pan so they don't touch. This makes them less likely to absorb the icing, though, so will be less "sticky" and with a chewier texture.
  20. *If you like super-gooey rolls, don't bake them as long, obviously.
  21. -Guest Post Recipe by The Vegan Virtuoso-

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  1. This looks so amazing! I have to try them.

    • Let me know how they turn out :)I’m going to experiment with different fillings the next time I make them.

      • Amazing! If I had known before that cinnamon rolls were so easy to prepare, I would have indulged quite a few times already. They were delicious and reminded me a lot of my mom’s, which were of course the best. The filling is so tasty with the dates! I think next time I’ll add a bit of raisins too. Oh, and I used about 3/4 cup of whole wheat pastry flour. I made them last night and there is only one left! And we’re only two people.

        I’ll make them again for sure.

        The video was very helpful too. Thank you!

  2. Super easy and super delicious!Thanks for the recipe.

  3. No way! I’m such a sucker for sticky / cinnamon buns. These look too good!

  4. How creative! I have to try this soon! 🙂

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