Part of the Antidote: Mile-High Cinnamon Roll Bread

Stretch it, psyche!

“Everyone comes to shame through a people that cannot profit them, that brings neither help nor profit, but shame and disgrace” (Isaiah 30:5, NRSV).  Yes, dear readers, like many before me, I’m doing a circular, self-referential hermeneutic of the Bible. 

Speak English? 

I’m reading my life into and from the Bible and/or other sacred text I find on the path.

“ ‘We have the antidote, so enjoy the poison!’ Such things, I feel, must never be spoken” said Buddhist master Shinran.

I agree with Shinran (in this case, anyway). Sure, the antidote to staring at the computer all day might be eventual retirement and living in the mountains (or at the shore).  Why must I put off enjoyment of the extremes of the earth, mortgaging misery in my present existence—the only thing I have—on hopes of a joy-filled future?  Nope.  I know I’m not the first person to figure this out and I don’t claim these as terribly original thoughts.  I’d like some balance please.  Oh wait, you have to make your own balance; no one can hand it to you.

Nay, dear readers, I am leaving my fellowship at the end of the month in order to enter a job where I will be able to do work that relates to my ultimate goal of being a health coach (and baker and writer and spiritual adviser).  Instead of doing fundraising data entry, I will be a cashier at global organic grocery store (while studying to be a health coach—starting IIN for realz on Monday!!1). 

Once I had a job offer—and accepted it—I began feeling an incredible lightness and energy, despite the fact that I have dark circles under my eyes that rival those under grad students’ hollow-eyed stares.  I guess I’m kind of a grad student since I’m pursuing this coaching certificate. 

To complement this rising feeling, I present to you the one-and-only Mile High Cinnamon Roll Bread.  My mom makes this every year for Christmas and it is full of win.  Its dark cinnamon filling can make a wee Q forget hir Star Wars Legos in favour of a slice of spirally bread with margarine.  “One-and-only” isn’t quite true—Google cinnamon roll bread and everyone and their mom and their grandmother has a version (vegan, GF, wheat, you name it; it’s there).  Maida Heatter’s awesomesauce filling takes the cake and makes this bread rise above the rest, pun very intended.

Mile-high Cinnamon Roll Bread
Modified from Heatter, Maida, “Mile-high Cinnamon Bread,” in Maida Heatter’s Best Dessert Book Ever (New York: Random House, 1990), 178-80.

Vanilla Water
3 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cinnamon Sugar
1/3 cup organic granulated sugar
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
4 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg

1/4 cup warm water
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon organic granulated sugar

1 cup non-dairy milk (I used vanilla almond)
3 tablespoons coconut oil, solid

1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed

1 cup oat flour
1 cup sorghum flour
1 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 cup coconut flour
2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 cup organic granulated sugar

1/4 cup tapioca flour (AKA: tapioca starch) for rolling

In a small bowl, combine the vanilla and water and set aside.  In another small bowl, combine the cinnamon, sugar, cocoa, and nutmeg and set aside.

Grease an 8*4 1/2-inch loaf pan and set aside.

In a small saucepan, heat the non-dairy milk and coconut oil until bubbles appear on the edge and the coconut oil is mostly melted.  Remove from the heat and stir for the coconut oil to melt completely.

In a small measuring cup, combine the warm water, yeast, and half teaspoon of sugar.  Mix well and set aside to foam.

In yet another small measuring cup, combine the water and flaxseed and set aside to gel.

In a large bowl, sift together the flours, xanthan gum, and salt and whisk together to combine.  When the yeast has foamed about 1 inch, add the yeast, milk, and flax mixtures to the flour mixture and stir well.  Maida says to add the egg (aka: flax mixture) to the yeast measuring cup after pouring out the yeast mixture in order to get all the yeast—do it!  Knead the dough a few times to ensure uniform distribution of everything.  It will be slightly sticky.

Have the vanilla water and cinnamon sugar at the ready.  Liberally sprinkle tapioca flour on a piece of waxed paper (use about half of the tapioca; you will thank me later).  Flour a rolling pin.  Carefully scrape the dough onto the waxed paper and dust the top of the dough with tapioca flour.  Roll the dough to a 12-by-22-inch rectangle (probably bigger than your waxed paper). Brush the entire surface of the dough with two-thirds of the vanilla water.  Sprinkle two thirds of the cinnamon sugar on the watered dough.  Fold one long side of the dough to the centre and then fold the other to the centre so they about meet in the middle (be very patient as the dough has probably stuck to the waxy paper despite your best efforts; nudge it with a spatula and use the waxed paper to help you).  Reroll the dough gently to form a rectangle about 7 by 25 inches (or as my [mom’s] pan was 8 inches pretty much square top to bottom, eyeball the width of the dough to fit the bottom of the pan; Maida’s pan was different).

Paint the newly exposed dough with the rest of the vanilla water and apply the rest of the cinnamon sugar.  Begin rolling from whichever narrow end makes sense to you.  Roll it like a sleeping bag, and before you make the roll meet the opposite end of the rectangle, brush the opposite end with a little water, then seal.  Place the roll seam side down in the prepared pan.  Set aside in a warm, draft-free space (for example, in or on a barely preheated oven) to rise for 90 minutes or until doubled in size.  The dough will begin to crack a little along the top when it’s all risen.

About 20 minutes before the dough has finished rising, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (remove the bread if you stashed it to rise there!).  Bake for 45-50 minutes or until it sounds hollow when tapped, springs back to the touch, and has browned on top.  Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely.

My grandmother kindly removed it from the oven since I made it on Christmas Eve and wanted to go to bed before it was finished baking.

Slice and go!

I’ve been making a bread-grain mélange since Christmas; I had quinoa brownies, OM’s crumbly pumpkin bread (tasty, but crumbly), OM’s teff cornbread, and the abovementioned bread.  Then I added quinoa.

Last week’s mélange included quinoa, black bean brownies with pumpkin mousse, the abovementioned bread, and the usual suspects of flaxseed and nut butter (or raw chocolate spread).  This is how I have dessert for second breakfast since I’ve figured out that I function best when I drink green juice, commute, then eat carbs and protein at work about an hour later.  Drinking the juice, I can go without caffeine for longer that when I would eat everything at once…

I finish with another Buddhist teaching.  Chinese Buddhist Master Chu-hung reportedly said/wrote,
You have too many concerns that preoccupy your mind too urgently.  That’s why you develop all these illnesses.
Just work continuously [on Buddha-remembrance] without any breaks, without mixing in any other thoughts.  This is the work [for you].  Excessive austerities are not needed.
False thoughts are powerful, but after a long struggle, they will submit. Have no doubts about this.

Have no doubts about this, friends.


  1. I like your rising thoughts coupled with the rising bread dough. A new day is coming!


    1. Thank you! You said last year, wouldn't it be great if I could find a job where I wore an apron all day? Well guess what, I *will* be wearing an apron all day in the new job--livin' the dream!


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