I’ve been craving cinnamon rolls lately, but as with any yeasted breakfast pastries, getting up early enough to have them hot in the morning is a problem. That’s where muffins generally come into play, and last night as I was trying to decide what to make, the thought of cinnamon roll muffins wouldn’t get out of my head. Turns out I wasn’t the first to have a similar thought, and one particular recipe seems to have been making the rounds this past year.

For me, the catch was that we are currently out of eggs. Looking into substitutes, I recalled that flax or chia gel can be used as an egg replacer, and couldn’t resist giving it a try. I bought chia seeds from Rancho Gordo back in October—they are teeny tiny, essentially flavorless, and unbelievably chock-full of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, besides being easily digestible and high in fiber. Plus, you can smear them on whimsical ceramic animals or Obama heads! Like flax seed, chia is hydrophilic, so when you soak a tablespoon of the seeds in a quarter cup of water, you end up with a thick gelled substance that mimics the viscosity and volume of an egg; apparently it makes good a good base for pudding too.

I baked up my cinnamon roll muffins in a new set of Starfrit silicone muffin liners. My old silicone muffin pan is getting old, and I thought I’d give this single-serve model a try. I did pop them into a 12-well metal muffin pan for stability, and they worked out great—no sticking in sight! Notice that the chia seeds are barely even detectable in the finished product.

I didn’t get to try one of the muffins while they were still hot, but this morning I reheated a few in the microwave for breakfast and they were pretty darn good. A little dense compared to the real deal, but the flavor was there, and the look was spot-on. I have no intention of giving up honest-to-goodness cinnamon rolls anytime soon, but it’s nice to have a quick-fix recipe like this in the repertoire for emergency situations. 🙂

Cinnamon Roll Muffins

1 C buttermilk (I use half milk, half yogurt)
1/2 C brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 egg (or 1 T chia seeds soaked in 1/4 C water)
3 to 3 1/2 C flour
2 T butter, softened
1/2 to 2/3 C brown sugar

Measure the brown sugar, baking soda, salt, vanilla and egg into a mixing bowl. Add the flour and buttermilk in alternating thirds. Stir until thoroughly combined. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a minute or two.

Roll the dough into a 12-inch by 24-inch rectangle. Spread with butter. Sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon. Roll the dough into a log beginning at the wide side. Stretch the log slightly. Cut into a dozen two-inch pieces and put the pieces into greased muffin tins or muffin tins lined with cupcake papers.

Bake at 375°F for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Allow the muffins to cool for 5 minutes and then remove them from the muffin tins. Dust with powdered sugar or drizzle with a simple powdered sugar glaze.

Source: Slightly adapted from Ruby Glen.

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