Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Vegan Strawberry Cinnamon Rolls & Making Roots

Well hello there! It's been a while.

Last time we talked I might as well have been a different person for all of the changes that have happened in my life, big and little, internal and external. It’s next to impossible to summarize, so I’ll just tell you a bit about what’s going on currently.

It’s practically summer in Tangier these days, which means this is the month of events and wrap-ups. I just finished two separate dance performances, one that I choreographed and danced in and another where my lovely friend Natalia directed and we both danced. Now I’m preparing for a showcase of my dance classes that I teach throughout the academic year and once that is over I can finally start to look ahead and begin anew with summer adventures & projects.

I guess the major change in me since last fall is a sort of focusing- a honing in- on what is important to me and where that will most likely take me in my foreseeable future. As a freshly-turned 23 year old (am I though?) I’ve realized dance is more than just a passion- it’s truly my career and my life. I train harder, dig deeper and push myself more than I ever have in this field. 

I also have started to finally form some roots. Even though my freelance work and endlessly itching wanderlust will keep me traveling, the wonderfully weird city of Tangier, Morocco, is a place I can call home now without flinching. In fact, it feels good to say it. This is my home.

I tell people that 3 things happened successively when I came to Morocco about a year and a half ago. First, I fell in love with the country. Then I fell in love with my work. And then I fell in love with a Moroccan. He cinched it. Yep- I’m getting rooted in this city, and I’m happy about it.

The lovely news about all of my projects and performances wrapping up this month, is that now I have more time for simple pleasures. Reading, writing, yoga in the sun, and of course, baking. 

I go through these weird phases where I get obsessed with using yeast in everything I bake. It's usually when my stress levels are higher and I need to knead some dough to get it all out. Hence, yeasted cakes, yeasted rolls, yeasted everything. Let's stop saying yeast and just look at how delicious these are:

It's strawberry season here, so time to get crazy. These rolls are fluffy, sticky, finger-licking goodness. No excuse not to make them.

Strawberry Cinnamon Rolls (vegan)
makes about 8 rolls

1 cup chopped strawberries
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp water
1.5 tsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon

125g vegan margarine/earth balance
100g sugar
350g flour
5g yeast
160 ml lukewarm coconut milk

2 tbsp softened vegan margarine
3-4 tbsp coconut milk
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla

Begin by mixing the yeast with 80 ml of lukewarm coconut milk until the yeast is dissolved. Whisk in 25g of the flour, then cover with a cloth and let sit somewhere warm to double in size and get frothy, for 30 minutes. 

Meanwhile, prepare the strawberry cinnamon filling by combining all of the ingredients in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir and let simmer until the strawberries get mushy and a compote forms. Take off the heat and let chill in the fridge until you're ready to use it.

Once the yeast is doubled, combine the remaining dough ingredients and knead until a sticky dough forms. If it is too dry, add a bit of water, one tablespoon at a time. Knead for about 5 minutes before transferring to a greased bowl. Cover it with plastic wrap and let it sit in a warm place for another 45 min-1 hour.

Preheat your oven to 180ºC (350ºF) and roll out your dough into a large rectangle on a floured surface. Spread the strawberry filling evenly, leaving about a 2 cm border around the edges. Carefully roll the dough into a log and cut 8 slices, placing them in a greased baking pan. If any filling falls out during this delicate process, just use a spoon to tuck it back into the rolls once they are in the pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until they are risen and golden-brown on top.

While the rolls are cooling, prepare your icing by whisking together the margarine, 2 tbsp of coconut milk, powdered sugar, cinnamon and vanilla with an electric hand-mixer. Add more coconut milk a tablespoon at a time until it is a thick, dripping consistency.

Dollop the icing over the buns and serve warm. They are best eaten the same day, but they will last (if for some crazy reason you have extras) for another day or two in an airtight container.

I'm so happy to be back! Happy spring/early summer, everyone.