Big Ol’ Cinnamon Roll

giant cinnamon roll with apples dates walnuts cranberries and raisins

Don’t you just HATE when people ask for your food? For example: imagine you’re with a friend, sitting on a bench waiting for the bus. You are practically starving, not having eaten in hours, so you wait in line at some bakery, ponying up your own hard-earned cash for an overpriced little pastry. Finally you walk out of the store and return to your friend, who says,”that looks good. Can I have a bite?” So you inwardly roll your eyes, but say “sure!” as cheerily as possible and hold it out to your friend, who pulls off a bigger piece than you’d like. Okay. You still have quite a bit left for yourself. But not for long, as the random person sitting on the other side of you on the bench looks at you with puppy-dog eyes and requests a piece for himself. Then a little kid asks for a piece, and the mom looks at you with hawk-eyes until you fork over a piece to the child. Finally the bus pulls up, and you think, I’m saved! Now everyone will get on the bus and leave me alone to finish the remaining 1/2…1/3…1/4? of my snack. But as you ascend the grimy stairs to board the bus, the driver glares at you and says, “No food on the bus,” snatching away what’s left of your pastry and wolfing it down like a human garbage disposal.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against sharing, but it can be annoying when every single person around you needs to eat some of your food. Personally, I’ve noticed that the better/more appealing the food is that I’m eating, the more people swarm around me and ask for some. You’d think they couldn’t afford to buy their own food. I try to be a generous person, and am willing to share, but sometimes the mooching gets on my nerves.

That’s why I decided to create this giant cinnamon roll. It’s so humungous, I couldn’t care less how many other people come along and take a piece. I’d still be left with plenty.

We’re not talking about any old bakery cinnamon roll here. No oversized Cinnabon as big as your face, dripping with grease. This cinnamon roll is better than any of that in every way. The two main reasons are 1) it’s not dripping with grease so your body will thank you and 2) it’s even BIGGER than what you’d get from a Cinnabon factory, so everyone else in your family who invite themselves to take a piece will thank you.

cinnamon roll apple dried fruit cake

The great thing about this cinnamon roll is that it is both delicious and nutritious. I made it with almost all whole wheat flour. That plus the dried fruit provide fiber. I also used applesauce and Earth Balance in place of the butter, and used less sugar than was called for in the original recipe. And yet it is still sweet and has a great flavor! Oh, and did I mention there is no yeast involved? So it’s yummy, healthy and easy!

When my mom first saw me eating a slice of this cinnamon roll, she said it looked good. And she’s right. If they have a healthy dessert modeling agency, I’m sure this pretty pastry could get a job there. Am I right?

slice of giant apple dried fruit cinnamon roll

My mom and I both agreed that this recipe was a success. The apples, cinnamon and dried fruit are flavorful and fit like a glove with the comforting, hearty cake/batter/roll part. I’m actually not sure whether to call it a cinnamon roll or a cinnamon roll cake. Or a cinnamon twirl, or a swirl, or just a really good cinnamon treat-thingy that you should make right now this second!

Sharing-Size Cinnamon Roll

Makes 8-16 servings

adapted from this recipe on Back for Seconds

giant apple cinnamon roll


for dough

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour (I used King Arthur brand)
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt (I used Fage brand)
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tbls plain almond milk (I used Silk brand)
  • 3 tbls organic light agave syrup
  • 1 tbl vanilla extract
  • 2 tbls Earth Balance Original Buttery Spread

for filling

  • 1/4 cup Tree Top brand unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup Earth Balance Original Buttery Spread
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsps cinnamon
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and chopped (or use 1 1/2 to 2 apples; I felt it could have used a little more)
  • 1 tbl chopped walnuts
  • 2 tbls golden raisins
  • 2 tbls dried cranberries
  • 3 dried, pitted dates, chopped


Preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit. Spray a 9” cake pan with cooking spray.

Filling: In a small bowl, melt the 1/4 cup Earth Balance in the microwave. Mix it with the applesauce and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the apple pieces, walnuts, raisins, cranberries, and dates. Add the brown sugar and flour. Toss to combine. Set this aside.

Dough: In a large bowl, combine the flours, baking soda, and baking powder and mix. Add the Greek yogurt, agave, vanilla, and 2 tbls Earth Balance. (Earth Balance does not have to be melted.) Add the almond milk in increments, stopping when the mixture is a soft dough.

On a flat surface, roll out the dough so it is a rectangle of at least 1/8 inch thick.

Put it all together: Spread the applesauce/Earth Balance mixture evenly over the entire surface of the dough rectangle. Use a spoon to sprinkle the fruit/sugar/cinnamon mixture evenly all over this.

Use a sharp knife to cut a strip of dough, about an the height of half your finger, from the long side of the rectangle. Carefully roll this strip into a “cinnamon roll” shape. Place it in the center of your prepared cake pan.

Cut more strips from the rectangle and stick them onto the cinnamon roll in the center, filling side in. Build out from the center in this fashion until all the dough is used up. The outside edge of the cinnamon roll should be close to the edge of the cake pan.

Place the cake pan in the preheated oven. Bake for 18 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Enjoy warm.

**Warning: the dough will be sort of hard to work with before baking. It will not be firm, but just do your best to stick it in the pan in a general roll shape.

Mmm- mmm-mmm, you can’t go wrong with a cinnamon roll!

giant apple cinnamon roll with dried fruit and walnuts

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2 responses

  1. I can vouch for this, it’s delicious.

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