The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Whole wheat cinnamon buns

sglanders's picture

Whole wheat cinnamon buns

Good Morning!

I came across a label for high protein whole wheat cinnamon rolls from Great Harvest Bread Company.  It's exactly what I would like to bake, however, it wasn't a recipe.... :(

I've made something like these before (without the high protein part)  5 cups freshly ground WW flour, 3 cups water, 1 c walnuts, 2 cups raisins, yeast, salt, cinnamon to taste and love them!  I'd like to figure out how to make they with more protein since my kids eat them for breakfast.  Here's a list of the ingredients.  Any ideas of amounts of each item??  I'm hoping for a starting place.  I figure it's not going to be perfect the first time ... or tenth....

  • WW flour
  • raisins
  • water
  • honey
  • gluten 
  • tofu
  • walnut
  • eggs
  • wheat bran
  • olive oil (I'd like to switch this to butter)
  • flax meal
  • oat bran
  • rolled oats
  • salt 
  • cinnamon


cranbo's picture

Let's assume 500g or so of WW flour, I would suggest the following percentages of 500g:

  • WW flour (100% aka 500g)
  • 30% raisins (30% of 500g = 150g)
  • 65% water 
  • 10% honey
  • 6% vital wheat gluten 
  • 5% tofu
  • 15% walnut
  • 6% eggs
  • 2% wheat bran
  • 5% butter (in lieu of olive oil)
  • 4% flax meal
  • 4% oat bran
  • 4% rolled oats
  • 2% salt 
  • 3% cinnamon
  • Yeast: You left this off, but probably should be around 2%, although you could easily use up to 3%

Some other suggestions:

1. Do you grind up the tofu? You may want to put it in a blender with some of the recipe's water and puree until smooth.

2. You may want to soak the WW, water, flax, brans with most of the water overnight. Creating this "soaker" will bring out the sweetness of the WW and help hydrate the other ingredients. 

3. Knead at high speed (KitchenAid mixer speed #4) for about 10 minutes to develop a nice fluffy texture for the buns.

4. Keep copious notes about the results, it will make it easier to tweak the formula for the future. 

5. Take some pictures of the finish product and post back, would love to see it, and even help troubleshooting further. 

sglanders's picture

Thanks for the percentages.  I tinker with recipes all the time but I have never baked something without a recipe.  I would love to take you up on your offer of troubleshooting.  Hopefully I'll get to these in the next couple days.  I'm a teacher and school starts next week...

cranbo's picture

Sure thing, feel free to post back here as you make progress. Would love to see and hear about the outcomes. 

jannrn's picture


WOW that sounds awesome, but I also have a question....could some of the WW flour be substituted with say, Amaranth which I think has highter protien content?? And How many grams are the other percentages? Can you tell I struggle with Bakers Math??? A very kind member offered to convert my favorite recipe but I lost his message. Rattsss.....Anyway, I would appreciate if you can explain that a little more. I love the idea of making them healthier but am not sure about Tofu.....

Thank you!!

cranbo's picture

You can substitute ~25% of the WW with Amaranth flour and probably get a very similar result.

A quick alegbra lesson to resolve the bakers math:

If 500g = 100% then

  • 60% of 500g = 500g multiplied by .60 = 300g
  • 5% of 500g = 500g multiplied by .05 = 25g
  • 4% of 500g = 500g multiplied by .04 = 20g
  • 2% of 500g = 500g multiplied by .02 = 10g


You're just multiplying the total flour weight by the percentage of a given ingredient. The result of that calculation is the weight of the individual ingredient. That's basically all that bakers math is. 

FYI, percentages are most easily expressed as a decimal, as follows:

  • 1.00 = 100%
  • 0.80 = 80%
  • 0.75 = 75%
  • 0.05 = 5%
  • 0.025 = 2.5%


The percentages are useful, because if you scale up your recipe, you use the same percentages to calculate how much of each ingredient to use. 

For example, if you decide to use 1000g (1kg) of WWflour, then:

  • 100% WW flour = 1000g
  • 30% raisins (30% of 1000g = 333.3g)
  • 65% water (65% of 1000g = 650g)


Does this make more sense now?

cranbo's picture

Also, I think the tofu should be fine; as I suggested, pureeing it in a blender with some water will work fine. Like adding other proteins to breads, it will make the crumb more tender. Its flavor is virtually neutral so that shouldn't be an issue.

If you hung up on toful, you can use soy flour instead to enhance protein and lighten your crumb:

sglanders's picture

Thanks for the suggestion of soy flour.  Do you just replace some of the flour with soy?

cranbo's picture

Yes, or just add it as an additional ingredient. I wouldn't use more than about 15% of your total flour weight. So for 500g of WW flour, use no more than 500 * .15 = 75g in your recipe. Soy flour will add denseness and moistness to your crumb. 

I'd say start with maybe 5% soy flour. Because you have so many ingredients in this formula, you may want to limit what variables you adjust, otherwise it will be tough to troubleshoot issues with your dough. 

yozzause's picture

Hi Jannrn

The first thing i do is establish what 1% of any formula is  eg Flour 1000g, divide by 100 = 10  then all your percentages after that are multiples of of 10

so 2% yeast would be 2 x 10 = 20g yeast and so on say water a@ 57% = 570g.

In fact i tend to always right down in the right hand corner of any formula  1% = (whatever it is ) so it allows a quick check by both yourself and anyone that might be following a formula.

kind regards Yozza

BellesAZ's picture

But I think the appeal of Cinnamon Rolls is the gooey goodness of the roll itself, which cannot, in my opinion and experience, be achieved with whole wheat - especially at a 100% formula.  That said, however, I have made them using a combination of whole wheat and white unbleached, which can work to improve the texture, but in spite of the liquid content, they still lack in texture and satisfaction.  Maybe White Whole Wheat flour would work better?

In my opinion (and I'm not trying to suggest you follow it or take my advice), if you're not eating cinnamon rolls regularly, what's wrong with the occasional treat?  I probably eat them twice a year and even then.. I just have one.  I want those times to be spent on eating something that totally satisfies the craving of gooey, warm sweet roll dough wrapped around sugar and butter. 

I'll save the tofu, whole wheat and other healthy ingredients for my every day life, there is nothing unhealthy about naturally unbleached white flour and as long as you balance everything else, why mess with perfection?  In my household, it's hands off the Cinnamon Rolls!  Some things are just perfect the way they are.

sglanders's picture

I agree with you about cinnamon rolls.  These, however, are not meant to be an occassional treat.  I am looking to develop a recipe for healthy, on-the-run, cinnamon buns.  Something my kids can grab and eat on the way to school that I made for them that includes some protein.

Breadbabe's picture

I make 100% whole wheat cinnamon rolls all the time. Its the darling of my bakery business, selling at 2 to 1 over everything else combined (buyers are very choosy - they won't buy something that tastes like tree bark). These are moist, soft, delectable, slightly sweet and a good pungent cinnamon finish to pull it all together. I also grind my own grain, so its not the WW that comes on the store shelf (KA comes close). For me the recipe works best when I keep it simple and don't try too hard.

pmccool's picture

Seeing how cinnamon is tree bark after all.  ;-)



Breadbabe's picture

Hah! I did too!!  I have a granddaughter named Keziah (cinnamon and/or the bark) so i have really no excuse for the ironic word choice.  The reality is my customers are always telling me that they expect a horrible taste from WW  and they often use the term 'tree bark'. Like everyone else, I wouldn't waste my time if that was the result.