If gooey vegan Cinnabon-like cinnamon rolls, steamed sweet potatoes, and a loaf of cinnamon swirl bread had a baby, it would be this vegan sweet potato cinnamon swirl bread. This bread has the gooey, doughy interior of the most delectable vegan cinnamon rolls; the subtle orange tint and moisture of steamed sweet potatoes; and the crust and overall shape of cinnamon swirl bread. It bakes up with a thin crust, soft and fluffy interior, and doughy, gooey center. Serve it warm on its own, or for an extra special treat, slather it with virgin coconut oil or vegan butter.
It’s kind of like a cousin to the Simple Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls with Maple Glaze from my cookbook. I made a handful of adjustments and swaps to make the recipe loaf-appropriate, and my goodness did it turn out tasty.
Dan and I devoured the entire loaf, end-to-end, in just two days. A rare feat given that we have to keep store-bought bread in the freezer since it typically takes us a full month to use up a single loaf.
This vegan cinnamon swirl bread is made with pure maple syrup, coconut sugar, and white spelt flour, which make it refined-sugar-free and perhaps even friendly to those with mild gluten sensitivities.
The gluten is spelt is delicate and less elastic than the gluten found in more common flours (e.g., all-purpose or whole wheat). For this reason, it’s sometimes better tolerated by individuals with gluten sensitivities. That being said, it’s always best practice to check with your doctor.
Spelt’s fragile gluten structure also means it requires less kneading (hooray!). Over-kneading spelt-based doughs yields dry, crumbly baked goods, so go easy on the stuff and you’ll be rewarded with soft, fluffy, gooey sweetness…
To make this dreamy vegan cinnamon-roll-esque loaf, you’ll start by steaming 1 1/4 cups of peeled sweet potato.
Once the sweet potato is very fork-tender, transfer it to a food processor and purée it.
In a small bowl, whisk together warm water, pure maple syrup, and yeast. Once a foam develops on the surface, add it the food processor along with the spelt flour, a tablespoon of coconut oil, a bit of cinnamon, a splash of vanilla, and a pinch of sea salt.
Pulse the mixture several times and then process for 15 seconds, or until the dough begins to wrap itself around the blade of the food processor.
Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface that’s been generously dusted with spelt flour, and knead it for 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 minutes. The dough should be smooth and slightly springy.
Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a well-oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel and let it rise in a cozy place for 1 hour, or until it triples in size.
Once the dough has completed its first rise, give it a swift punch and turn it out onto a clean, floured work surface.
Roll the dough into a 1/2-inch-thick rectangle (approximately 9 inches by 15 inches).
Brush the surface with a bit of melted coconut oil and sprinkle with a mixture of coconut sugar and cinnamon.
Then, starting at the short edge of the rectangle, slowly roll the dough away from yourself until you have a tightly wound loaf.
Then, transfer the loaf to a greased loaf pan, loosely cover it with parchment paper, and allow it to rise for another 30 minutes, or until doubled in size.
Finally, bake the loaf in a 350°F preheated oven for 18 to 24 minutes, or until just barely turning golden on top.
A bake time of 18–24 minutes yields a loaf with a thin crust, soft and fluffy interior, and doughy, gooey center (as pictured). Think Cinnabon. If that’s not your thing, bake for 24 to 28 minutes, or until desired doneness is reached.
Allow the loaf to cool (almost) completely in the pan before removing.
Once it’s just about cool, remove it from the pan and slice to your heart’s content.
Enjoy it as is (delicious), or for an extra special treat, slather each slice with a bit of virgin coconut oil or vegan butter .
Vegan Sweet Potato Cinnamon Swirl Bread
- 1 1/4 cups peeled and small-diced (1/3-inch cubes) sweet potato (7.5oz or 212g)
- 3/4 cup warm water (105˚F–115˚F)
- 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (1 packet)
- 3 1/2 cups white spelt flour, plus more as needed and for dusting*
- 2 tablespoons melted virgin coconut oil, divided, plus more for greasing
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 cup coconut sugar
- The sweet potato needs to be measured precisely, so either go by weight or ensure you have exactly 1 1/4 cups of small-cubed potato.
- Steam the diced sweet potato in a steamer or steamer basket for 30 minutes, or until fall-apart tender. (Do not steam in the microwave, because it will dry out the sweet potato out rather than infusing it with moisture.) Add the steamed sweet potato to a food processor and process for 1 minute, or until puréed, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed.
- In a small bowl, gently whisk together the warm water, pure maple syrup, and yeast. Let stand for 5 minutes, or until a foam develops on the surface.
- Meanwhile, lightly grease a large glass mixing bowl with coconut oil.
- Add the yeast mixture, plus the spelt flour, 1 tablespoon of the coconut oil, 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon, vanilla, and the sea salt to the sweet potato puréee in the food processor. Pulse five 5 times, and then process for 15 seconds, or until the dough begins to wrap itself around the blade of the food processor. The dough should be very soft, very sticky, and shaggy yet pulled together around the blade. If it's too loose or too wet, add more spelt flour, 1/4 cup at a time, and pulse until the desired texture is reached. Alternatively, if it’ is too dry or dense, add more warm water, 2 tablespoons at a time, and pulse until the desired texture is reached.
- Pull the dough from the food processor (yes, it should and will stick to your fingers) and turn out onto a clean work surface that has been generously dusted with spelt flour. Knead for 1 1/2 to 2–2 1/2 minutes (set a timer if you can), or until the dough is smooth and springy, adding more spelt flour as needed (I usually add about another 1/4 cup, but if you added more than 3 1/2 cups while blending in the food processor, you may not need to add more flour now). You’ll know the dough is ready when it begins to hold its shape and springs back, slightly but not completely, when pressed. The gluten in spelt is delicate, so be careful not to over-knead or you’ll end up with dry, crumbly bread.
- Shape the dough into a ball and place it in the prepared bowl. Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel, and let the dough rise in a warm place for 1 hour, or tripled in size. (Simple test for readiness: poke a finger tip about 1 inch into the dough. If the dough retains the indentation, it's good to go.)
- When the dough has just a few minutes left to rise, lightly grease a 5" x 10" loaf pan with coconut oil. Whisk together the coconut sugar and remaining 1 tablespoon of cinnamon in a small bowl.
- Punch down the dough and turn it out onto a clean, generously floured work surface. Roll the dough into a 1/2-inch- thick rectangle (approximately 9 inches by × 15 inches).
- Lightly brush the top of the dough with the remaining 1 tablespoon of melted coconut oil. Then, sprinkle with the coconut sugar and cinnamon mixture.
- Starting at the short edge of the rectangle, gently roll the dough away from you until you have a tightly wound roll. Use your fingers to pinch the seam closed.
- Carefully transfer the loaf to the greased loaf pan, swirled-side-down. Loosely cover the pan with parchment paper and let the loaf rise in a warm place for another 30 minutes, or until doubled in size.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350˚F.
- Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 18 to 24 minutes, or until just barely turning golden on top. The top should feel firm to the touch and the loaf should sound hollow when gently tapped. (Note: this baking time yields a loaf with a thin crust, soft and fluffy interior, and doughy, gooey center. Think Cinnabon. If you prefer a non-gooey center, bake for 24 to 28 minutes, or until desired doneness is reached.)
- Remove from the oven and transfer the pan to an oven-safe cooling rack. Allow the loaf to cool in the pan almost completely before serving.
- I recommend slicing off pieces just before enjoying rather than slicing the entire loaf. This keeps the bread from going stale. Serve on its own or slathered with virgin coconut oil or vegan butter.
- Store the loaf in the pan at room temperature, loosely covered with foil, for up to 3 days. Alternatively, refrigerate for up to 1 week.