Imagine cinnamon rolls and croissants had a baby, and you will end up with German cinnamon rolls aka Franzbrötchen! These buttery-sweet rolls are loaded with cinnamon and sugar and beautiful layers of pastry. Follow this vegan recipe to enjoy them at home.
💡 The recipe in a nutshell
- Vegan (eggless and dairy-free)
- Made with simple ingredients
- Buttery, crunchy and soft at the same time!
- German baking made plant-based
- Comfort food!
🇩🇪 What is Franzbrötchen?
Franzbrötchen is a sweet cinnamon sugar-filled pastry roll from Hamburg, in northern Germany. Think of it as the lovechild of a croissant and a cinnamon roll! It is a flaky cinnamon roll, that is incredibly delicious. Traditionally, it’s made using a yeasted laminated pastry dough (called Plunderteig in German).
In this article, you learn how to make (vegan) puff pastry dough from scratch, but if you are in a hurry you can also use a store-bought variety.
☕ How to serve German cinnamon rolls?
You can serve and eat German cinnamon rolls just as you would regular ones. In Germany, they are often served during coffee and cake time in the afternoon. But they are also enjoyed as a sweet breakfast which you can get in most bakeries.
They taste great with a side of some fresh fruit, jam, or compote too!
To make German cinnamon rolls you only need some simple and pantry-friendly ingredients! You will need a puff pastry sheet. Either store-bought or homemade work!
If you are making the puff pastry from scratch you need:
- all-purpose flour
- full fat coconut milk
- active dry yeast
- vegan cane sugar
- A pinch of salt
- flaxseed meal
- vegan butter (use sticks, do not use a spread)
For the filling
👩🏽🍳 How to make the vegan puff pastry
If you decide to make the yeasted laminated puff pastry from scratch start with making a yeast dough following the instructions in the recipe card at the bottom of this article. I also have a how-to video that you can watch added below to the recipe!
Once your yeast dough is ready, it needs to rest for 2 hours. While it is resting you can prepare the vegan butter sheet by rolling it into a 14 by 14cm parchment paper square (which is 5.5 by 5.5” inches) as shown in the images below. Once rolled out it is important to put the butter in the fridge to chill and harden.
🤔 How to fold puff pastry?
Once the yeast dough has rested, it is time to fold it. This step will create those beautiful flakes and buttery layers. Start by rolling the dough out into a flat 50 by 20cm rectangle (20 by 8” inches). Then place the chilled butter rectangle on one-half of the dough. Fold the other half on top and press the edges firmly to fold in the butter.
Roll it out again into a 50 by 20cm rectangle (20 by 8” inches) by first pressing gently with your rolling pin, then rolling wide. Be sure that the butter does not come out on the sides of the dough. Then fold ⅔ of the dough to the center, followed by the other side on top. This will make 3 layers forming a "letter". Place the folded dough flat in the refrigerator for 20 minutes covered with parchment or plastic to prevent it from drying out).
Then repeat this step two to six more times. The more often you fold it, the more layers you will get!
After the last chilling all you need to do is roll the dough out into a big rectangle and fill it with cinnamon and sugar. Roll it back up, cut and shape into Franzbrötchen, bake and enjoy!
🥐 How to make German cinnamon rolls
To make German cinnamon rolls you will need to prepare the puff pastry dough, fill it, roll it, shape into Franzbrötchen, and bake them. If you want to take a shortcut you can use a store-bought puff pastry sheet as well.
To shape the Franzbrötchen cut rolled-up dough crosswise into 14 trapezoid-shaped pieces. Take a rolled-up piece and place it with the cut end facing you. Place the handle of a wooden spoon across the center of the roll and press firmly. The spoon will sink through the roll, causing the cut ends to bulge outward and upward. Stop the spoon just before it splits the roll in half.
Then press with the palms of your hands on the two fanned-out sides to flatten the roll a bit. Do not flatten the roll completely! This may take a little practice at first. Repeat the process with the remaining dough pieces. Once all rolls are shaped let them rest for 20 minutes, then bake in a preheated oven.
🛒 How to bake with store-bought puff pastry
The advantage of using a store-bought puff pastry sheet is that it is quicker! There are a couple of things to keep in mind to make sure that your rolls turn out great.
- Read our full article on vegan puff pastry with a brand list, if you are not sure which one to buy.
- Make sure to let the puff pastry thaw before you start using it (otherwise, it will break, rip or snap.)
- Read and follow the package instructions properly!
They are best fresh on the day they are baked. Store for 1 to 2 days in an airtight container. We advise refreshing the Franzbrötchen in your (convection) oven shortly before eating.
❄️ How to freeze
To freeze them put them completely cooled in a freezer-safe bag or container and label with the date of freezing. Squeeze out any access air and freeze. They keep fresh for around 3 months if stored properly. To thaw stick in your (convection) oven or on the counter overnight.
German Cinnamon Rolls - Franzbrötchen Recipe
- mixing bowl, rolling pin, baking sheet, parchment paper, bowl cover,
Puff pastry dough (alternatively use store-bought puff pastry sheet)
- 620 g all-purpose flour (21.8 oz)
- 220 ml full fat coconut milk (7.4 fl oz)
- 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 3 tablespoon vegan cane sugar
- A pinch of salt
- 2 flax eggs (2 tablespoon flaxseed meal + 5 tablespoon water)
- 65 g vegan butter at room temperature - use sticks, do not use a spread (2.3 oz)
- 250 g chilled vegan butter - use sticks, do not use a spread (8.8 oz)
- Prepare the flaxseed eggs by mixing the flaxseeds and water in a small bowl or cup. Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes. If you are using a store-bought puff pastry dough skip to step 3, then to step 8.
- For the puff pastry dough, place the yeast, flour, sugar, and salt in a mixing bowl and combine well. Form a well in the center. In a separate bowl, mix the coconut milk and the prepared flaxseed egg. While stirring with a wooden spoon, pour the milk mixture into the flour well. Then cut the 65g of butter into coarse pieces and add it to the mixing bowl. Mix everything together until you have a rough dough. Transfer the dough to a clean work surface (no extra flour is needed) and start kneading for about 5 minutes until it is no longer sticky, it should be soft and gentle. If you have a kitchen machine, you can use it to knead the dough. Place the dough back in the mixing bowl and cover it. Place the bowl in a warm, non-drafty place and let the dough rise for 2 hours. During the resting time, you can prepare the filling and remaining butter.
- For the filling, simply mix sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and set it aside.
- To prepare the butter: Cut the butter into cubes and place them on a piece of parchment paper to form a square. Now fold the baking paper around the butter and roll it out into a flat 14x14 cm square (5.5”x5.5” inches). Then put it in the refrigerator.
- After 2 hours of resting the dough should have doubled in size. Take the prepared butter square out of the refrigerator so that it softens just slightly. Gently press your fist into the dough and use a dough scraper, or kitchen spatula, to scrape the dough onto a clean work surface (no extra flour needed). Knead it lightly, then roll it into a 35x20 cm rectangle (14”x8” inches). Then place the butter on one-half of the dough. Fold the other half on top. Press the edges firmly so that the butter is well folded in.
- Now roll out the dough into a 50x20cm rectangle (20”x8” inches) by first pressing gently little with your rolling pin, then rolling it out. Make sure that the butter does not come out. Then put one side on ⅔ of the dough to the center, and put the other side on top, making 3 layers forming a "letter". Place the folded dough flat in the refrigerator for 20 minutes (cover the dough with parchment or plastic to prevent it from drying out).
- After cooling, repeat as before: roll the dough into a rectangle and fold it into a "letter", cover, and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes. Repeat the whole process a third time including chilling. Do not skip cooling the dough, otherwise, you risk that the butter mixes with the dough. This is how the many layers are created later during baking. You can repeat the folding up to 6 times, but 3 times is quite enough.
- To assemble the rolls, lay out parchment paper on a baking sheet. After the last chilling, remove the dough from the fridge. Roll out flat into an 80x50cm rectangle (32”x20” inches). Now sprinkle the dough completely (leave no border) with the cinnamon and sugar filling. Then starting on the long side roll up the dough and cut crosswise into 14 trapezoid-shaped pieces. Take a rolled-up piece and place it with one of the cut ends facing you. Place the handle of a wooden spoon across (parallel to the cut ends) the center of the roll and press firmly. The spoon will sink through the roll, causing the cut ends to bulge outward and upward. Stop the spoon just before it splits the roll in half. Then press with the palms of your hands on the two fanned-out sides to flatten the roll a bit. Do not flatten the roll completely! This may take a little practice at first. Repeat the process with the remaining dough pieces, spreading them evenly on the baking sheet. When all the rolls have been shaped, pressed, and squashed, cover them and let them rise one last time for 20 minutes. Preheat your oven to 200°C (400°F) top and bottom heat.
- To bake the rolls, place the baking sheet with the risen buns in the oven and bake them for 20 to 25 minutes. They should be golden brown, risen, and flaky, with a caramelized bottom. Put the baked rolls on a cooling rack to cool, or enjoy slightly warm and enjoy.
Do you want more vegan German recipes? Browse our German recipe page! →
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