Vegan Franzbrötchen (Sweet Cinnamon Pastry)
There is one thing that is certain: we'll never run out of recipe ideas – especially since we receive a wide variety of recipe requests from the community every day. But from all the requests, there were two recipes you've asked for particularly often: “Franzbrötchen“ (a sweet cinnamon-flavored pastry from Northern Germany) and vegan ”Choco Fresh” (a chocolate bar filled with a milk-hazelnut cream). As we couldn't decide which recipe we'd like to do first, we left the decision up to you and started a poll on Instagram. To our surprise, the “Franzbrötchen” were the clear winner. Good for me, I thought at the time, baking a vegan cinnamon bun like pastry, how hard could it be? Very hard, as it turned out. Nonetheless, we did it, and it was worth it. After countless attempts, here is our recipe for vegan “Franzbrötchen“.
“Franzbrötchen“ are from Hamburg and there are numerous theories entwining around their specific origin. While some claim that they are Hamburg’s attempt of a croissant, others suspect that they are the invention of the “Franz'schen“ baker, a formerly legendary bakery in Altona (source). Or are they simply the German answer to cinnamon buns? Either way, the “Franzbrötchen“ has become a true classic and were part of every trip to Hamburg for me. To make sure you never have to miss out on this treat again, we're showing you a simple, vegan version today.
The most challenging part of making this cinnamon pastry is probably getting the fat into the dough to get the characteristic flaky consistency after baking. You have to repeatedly fold and roll out many layers of dough to incorporate all the fat into the dough. But don't worry, the whole process sounds more complicated than it is. It's best to use cold vegan butter instead of margarine as the latter is very soft and harder to work with. After you have successfully incorporated all the fat, you can start with the filling, which consists of sugar, cinnamon, and vegan butter. For this, you only have to coat the dough with softened vegan butter and sprinkle a good amount of cinnamon and sugar on top. How much you use is up to you, but if you like it sweet, you should start with about 100 - 150 g (0.5 - 0.75 cup) of sugar. After rolling and cutting your dough, you just have to shape the rolls. Of course, there are different ways to shape this cinnamon pastry. For my buns, I used what I call the “spoon trick“. This involves pressing the center of the dough with a wooden spoon and then flatten it. Whatever you decide on, they taste good either way. Have fun baking them!
Vegan Franzbrötchen (Sweet Cinnamon Pastry)
For the yeast dough:
- 42 g (1.5 oz) fresh yeast
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 375 ml (1.66 cups) warm water
- 40 g (1.5 oz) coconut oil
- 600 g (4.75 cups) wheat flour type 405
- 1 tsp salt
- 250 g (2.25 sticks) cold vegan butter
For the filling:
- 3 tbsp cinnamon
- 100-150 g (0.5 - 0.75 cup) brown sugar
- 5 tbsp vegan butter
For the yeast dough, mix crumbled yeast with brown sugar and lukewarm water in a bowl. The water shouldn't be too hot (only lukewarm). Let the mixture stand for 10 minutes. The yeast should swell and bubbles should appear on the surface of the water.
Heat the coconut oil until it becomes liquid. It shouldn't be too hot either. Add it to the bowl, as well as the salt. Now gradually knead in 400 g (3.25 cups) of flour. The dough may still be very sticky.
Cover the bowl with a damp kitchen towel and let the dough rise in a warm place for an hour. After one hour, the dough should have risen well and many bubbles should be visible on the surface of the dough.
Add another 200 g (1.66 cups) of flour and knead it into the dough. You should be able to form a ball now. Let it rise for another hour.
Roll out the cold vegan butter between two sheets of parchment paper into the shape of a rectangle (20 x 25 cm/8 x 10 inches).
Once the yeast dough has risen enough, roll it out to a rectangle (30 x 25 cm/12 x 14 inches). Place the rolled-out vegan butter on the yeast dough, so the shorter edges (25 cm / 10 inches) are laying on top of each other. Fold the rolled-out dough like a letter over the butter layer. Start from the narrow side, and fold a third of the dough that's not covered with butter towards the center. Then fold the third from the other narrow side over it to get three layers of dough on top of each other. Roll out the folded dough until it’s a rectangle of 30 x 50 cm/12 x 20 inches and repeat the folding step. Let the dough rest in the fridge for 20 minutes.
In the meantime, melt the vegan butter for the filling.
Roll out the dough into a rectangle of 60 x 40 cm/23.5 x 15.5 inches. Spread the melted butter on top and sprinkle generously with cinnamon and sugar.
Roll up the dough from the longer side and divide it with a sharp knife into pieces, about 4-5 cm/1.5 - 2 inches wide.
Gently press the center of each bun with the handle of a wooden spoon and let the buns rise again for another 20 minutes. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 180°C/355°F (convection heat). After the dough has risen enough, flatten the buns with a spatula.
Transfer the buns to a lined baking sheet, leaving sufficient space in between them. Bake for about 20-25 minutes. The “Franzbrötchen“ will keep in an airtight container for about three days.