Friday, October 20, 2023


I find great joy in baking, especially very early in the morning. There is something so wonderfully comforting in that peaceful silence while the city is still mostly asleep.
Those cosy but cold autumn mornings simply call for cinnamon rolls and a tall mug of coffee. Frankly, cinnamon rolls are always a good breakfast choice, but they become even more inviting on a chilly morning.
And these are absolutely perfect; soft and fluffy dough, and a generous chocolate filling. Just marvellous to slowly unroll and enjoy every layer.
As for the pumpkin, you can use freshly grated pumpkin or a shredded defrosted one; it will still be the same, only perhaps cooked slightly longer, so the liquid evaporates.
Do taste the filling and adjust it to your liking; perhaps by adding a dash of rum, a sprinkle of cloves, or a generous teaspoon of instant coffee granules.
I don’t enjoy icing on cinnamon rolls, as I find them sweet enough on their own, and slightly less messy this way, but a scoop of freshly whipped vegan cream or a drizzle of melted chocolate is more than welcome. Adapt it to your preferences, fill and bake them, and enjoy every bite of these wonderful rolls.

For the soft vanilla dough
325 grams plain flour
170 millilitres warm water
30 millilitres oil
20 grams yeast
25 grams granulated sugar
10 grams salt
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
For the chocolate pumpkin filling
135 grams pumpkin, grated
75 grams brown sugar
1 heaped teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon cornflour
30 millilitres cold water
50 grams vegan block butter
80 grams dark chocolate (80% cocoa), grated
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
20 grams unsweetened cocoa powder

Start by making the dough. Take a medium bowl, crumble in the fresh yeast, add in the granulated sugar and the warm water, and mix well so the yeast starts to dissolve. Set the bowl aside for about 10-15 minutes so the yeast can activate.
Meanwhile, sift the flour into a large bowl, add in the salt, and blend well. Once the yeast is ready, make a well in the centre of the flour, pour in the yeast, as well as the vanilla and the oil, and mix with a wooden spoon until a very soft dough forms.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead it by hand for about 5 minutes or so, until it becomes supple and smooth. If it is sticking too much to your hands, feel free to add a bit more flour, so it is manageable. Place the kneaded dough into a large bowl, cover it with a kitchen towel, and let it rise in a warm spot for about an hour, or until doubled.
While the dough is resting, make the pumpkin chocolate filling. Place the grated pumpkin in a medium pot, add in the sugar and cinnamon, and place over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring often, until all of the liquid evaporates, and the pumpkin starts to almost turn into a jam.
In a small bowl, whisk together the cornflour and water, quickly pour it into the pumpkin, and cook for about 2 more minutes, until smooth and thickened. Remove from the heat, and immediately add in the butter, grated chocolate, and the vanilla, and whisk until everything is melted and blended. Finally, sift in the cocoa powder, and whisk until incorporated. The filling will be thick, but spreadable. Let it cool down to room temperature.
Take the risen dough out of the bowl and knead it gently, and then roll it out into a long rectangle. Spread the cooled filling all over the dough, making sure you leave one edge free, to seal the roll. Roll it up starting from the shorter side, so the rolls are nice and tall. Slice the roll into four large pieces and arrange them in a rectangular baking pan (20x20 cm), lined with baking parchment. Cover them with a clean cloth, and let them rest and rise for about 20 minutes, while the oven preheats. Bake them in a nicely preheated oven, at 200˚C, for about 15-20 minutes, or until evenly browned and serve immediately. Yields 4 extra large rolls.
Author's note: These can be sliced into smaller rolls, and baked for a shorter period of time, 12-15 minutes.