Spicy love

Wow, February has been busy in my house!  It’s Valentine’s Day already… can you believe that?!  Yikes!  Well, Valentines day seems to me to be about sweet treats and indulgence and expressing love with fun foods.  My kids are certainly not strangers to treats, but we definitely don’t do refined sugar in the way that we used to.  Today I made cinnamon rolls my way and loved them!

A couple things make my cinnamon rolls different from the massive cinnabon style buns.  First, my guys aren’t sickly sweet.  They are citrus spiced and subtly sweetened with dates.  Oranges, whole, juicy oranges provide the liquid mass for this dough.  It’s whole food goodness with no milk or oil fillers and fat to cloud the flavor of the ingredients.  The gluten free flours tend to lend an earthier quality than white wheat flour, but teff, sorghum and amaranth are among the earthier alternative flours out there.  These are not rolls that will leave you feeling gluttonous, rather, these are treats that are meant to be enjoyed as a component of a healthy breakfast… not as breakfast alone.  I’m talking about having one cinnamon roll alongside a fruit salad and a cup of tea.  The rolls are balanced… and that may be why I love them.

Here are two variations on the same basic roll.  I’ve made this recipe with a few different flour combinations to show you how you can change things up to suit your taste and also to work with what’s in your pantry.  The first is a roll roll, and is great with a meal or with a cup of tea.  The second is the cinnamon roll.  It is versatile and lightly sweet and also makes a great biscuit/cookie!

Spiced Orange Rolls

Spiced Orange Rolls


Spiced Orange Rolls


1 Tbsp Yeast
3 cups Sorghum flour
¾  cup Teff flour
¼ cup Tapioca flour
2 Tbsp chai spice or 2 tsp Cardamom, ground
12-oz orange puree (from about 3 oranges)
1 tsp. Lecithin
4 dates, pitted
½ cup Water (use if needed to get a moist but not sticky dough)

½  cup Raisins

Preheat oven to 345 degrees. 

Put oranges and dates into the food processor and process until smooth. 

orange and date blend

orange and date blend

You’ll have a pulpy juice mixture and the dates should be well incorporated.  Keeping your raisins aside, add the remaining ingredients and pulse until a dough forms.  Add a bit of water as you go if your dough seems dry.  We don’t want a wet or sticky dough, but it shouldn’t be crumbly either.

Let’s turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board.  I used Sorghum flour since it’s lighter than the teff.  Put the raisins on top of the dough and knead them in.  Once they are relatively uniformly distributed pat the dough out into a rectangle that is about 12 inches long and 6 inches wide. 

Spiced Orange Dough

Spiced Orange Dough studded with Raisins

Using a knife, score the dough in half lengthwise and then make 6 cuts spanning the width so we have 12 equal pieces.  Take each piece and roll it into a ball in your hands, then make flatten the bottom for a cute roll shape. 

Place your formed rolls onto a parchment lined baking sheet or onto preheated baking stones in the oven.

heading into the oven

heading into the oven

Bake for about 25 minutes.


Cinnamon Orange Rolls


1 cup pecans
6 dates
1 Tbsp ground Cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla powder

12-oz orange puree (from about 3 oranges)
4 dates, pitted
1 Tbsp Yeast
2 cups Amaranth flour
1 cup Arrowroot flour
½  cup Teff flour
1 Tbsp ground Cinnamon
1 Tbsp vanilla powder
1 tsp. Lecithin

Equipment you’ll need:
2 bowls
food processor
rolling pin

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 

First things first, we need to make the filling.  Dump all of the filling ingredients into the bowl of your food processor and pulse it until everything is combined and you’ve got a sticky paste.  Tip the mixture out into a bowl and give the food processor a quick swish with water so we can get going on the dough.

date nut filling

date nut filling

Down to business: put your 3 oranges and 4 pitted dates into the food processor and process until smooth. 

Oranges and dates

We start with whole foods

You’ll have a pulpy juice mixture and the dates should be well incorporated.  Add the remaining dough ingredients and pulse until a dough forms.  You will likely need to scrape the sides of your food processor several times during the process to ensure uniform mixing.

amaranth dough

amaranth dough

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface.  I used Amaranth flour since it’s the main flour in this dough.  Knead the dough a turn or two and then grab your rolling pin.  Make sure that your work surface is well floured or this dough will stick!  Roll out a rectangle about 24 inches long and 12 inches wide.  

rolled out

Even though it's a tender dough, it rolls out beautifully.

Scoop the filling out its bowl and drop it in clumps down the center of the rolled out dough.  Using a spatula or flat knife spread out the filling until the surface of the dough is covered.  You will have a thin coating of the nut mixture.

spread out the filling

Now it’s time to roll this guy.  Starting at the long edge that is closest to you, begin to roll the dough.  Think jelly roll, think rolling a sleeping bag… we are rolling the dough over onto itself until it is one long rolled log.  Mission accomplished with the roll, so we’re going to use a serrated knife to slice 1.5 inch pieces of dough.  I ended up with 16 equal pieces.    

cinnamon rolls

snug as a bug!

Place your sliced rolls in the pan of your choice.  They don’t rise very much so you need not leave a ton of room between them… in fact, you can pack them in like snug little bugs.  The only real prerequisite  is that you lightly oil your pan or line it with parchment.

Bake for about 35 minutes.

fresh from the oven

fresh from the oven


Alternative: Slice the roll into cookie thickness, about ¼ inch thick and bake on a hot baking stone or parchment lined cookie sheet for 12-15 minutes.  Super, super crunchy and tasty treats.  Heck, make some into cinnamon rolls and some into cookies.  These are great with a cup of tea.

This entry was posted in Breakfast, Chai, cookie, dates, Family Friendly, Nuts, snack and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Spicy love

  1. Sarah says:

    I LOVE the idea of using the orange juice in place of other not-so-great ingredients, fabulous! Can’t wait to try them!

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