100% Whole Wheat Cinnamon Rolls


We’ve always had a thing about cinnamon rolls. I can’t explain what it is. Maybe it’s the warm, sweet and inviting aroma of cinnamon? Maybe it’s the soft and delicious bread or maybe it’s the combination of both!

The only issue is that the cinnamon rolls you can usually buy, are packed full of saturated fats and all sorts of nasties.  A classic cinnabon roll is 813 calories, total fat 32 g, 8 g saturated fat and 55 g sugars. They make me sick thinking about them! 

I was thus on the search for a healthier option. Each one of these babies are only 340 calories, with a total fat of 3 g and 18 g sugar. They are also made with 100% whole wheat flour and are totally awesome. They make me want to sing just typing about them!

I used only half of the fondant glaze below, but if you want to use the whole amount, go ahead.

I’ve adapted Peter Reinhart’s recipe considerably… again, this is due to my habitual laziness in making bread. 



Makes 8-10 cinnamon rolls

Adapted from “Whole Grain Breads”, by Peter Reinhart


For the Soaker

  • 227 g (1 ½ c) whole wheat flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 175 ml water (¾ c) water 

For the Biga

  • 227 g (1 ½ c) whole wheat flour
  • ¼ teaspoon dried active yeast
  • 140 ml (½ c and 2 tablespoons) buttermilk*
  • 1 large egg, beaten

For the Final Dough

  • All of the soaker
  • All of the biga
  • 55 g (⅓ c) whole wheat flour
  • 2 pinches of salt
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons dried active yeast
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 60 g (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
  • Extra whole wheat flour for adjustments**

For the Cinnamon Sugar

  • 6 ½ tablespoons sugar
  • 1 ½ tablespoons ground cinnamon

For the Fondant Glaze

  • 120g (1 c) icing (confectioners) sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk/milk substitute
  • 1 teaspoon golden syrup or honey
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

* If you’re dairy-free, use 135 ml soy milk and 1 tablespoon lemon juice.

** I needed to add 25 g (about 2 tablespoons) more flour to make this recipe work for me.



1. In a stand mixer with dough hook attachment, make the soaker by placing the flour, salt and water into the bowl. Blend using the dough hook until a tacky dough is formed, about 3-4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, cover with cling film (plastic wrap) and allow to sit overnight (up to 24 hours) at room temperature.

2. In the same bowl of the stand mixer, make the biga. Place the flour, dried active yeast, buttermilk and beaten egg into the bowl. Blend using the dough hook until a tacky dough is formed. Knead on medium speed for 8-10 minutes. Cover with cling film (plastic wrap) and chill overnight.

3. When ready to proceed, add the soaker to the biga in the stand mixer bowl, together with the remaining ingredients – flour, salt, yeast, honey and butter.

4. With the dough hook attachment, knead the dough until a well combined dough is formed. Add extra flour if the dough is too sticky.  Allow to knead for a further 8 minutes on medium speed or until a smooth, elastic and very slightly tacky dough is formed. Cover and allow to prove for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the dough has almost doubled in size.

5. Meanwhile, make the cinnamon sugar. Stir together the sugar and cinnamon together and set aside.

6. Punch the dough down and roll to 25×25 cm (10×10 inch) square. Sprinkle evenly with cinnamon sugar and rolled into a tight roll. Slice the roll into 8-10 even slices and lay flat 2.5 cm (1 inch) apart on baking trays (pans) lined with parchment paper. Cover loosely with a greased sheet of cling-film (plastic wrap) and let prove for 45-60 minutes at room temperature, or until the rolls are doubled in size.

7. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F 20 minutes before baking.

8. Remove the cling-film (plastic wrap) from the tray and transfer to the middle shelf of the preheated oven. Reduce the oven temperature to 180°C/350°F and bake for 15 minutes. Rotate the tray (pan), then continue to bake for an additional 10-15 minutes. The rolls will be richly brown in color and springy in the centre. If they are still doughy, return them to the oven for a few minutes.  

9. Meanwhile make the glaze. In a medium sized bowl, beat together the icing (confectioners) sugar, milk/milk substitute, golden syrup or honey and vanilla extract. The consistency should be of a thick, but drizzly paste.

10. Transfer the rolls to a wire rack and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes before glazing. Enjoy!


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