Veganizing Sohla El-Waylly's Cinnamon-date sticky buns!

(The best dough I have ever made m’self! A.k.a. math buns!)

Original recipe: /

These are the best cinnamon buns I have ever made, and the softest home-made dough I have ever tasted. Really flaky and soft like store-bought stuff, only made at home and without preservatives and other magics.

You will need a bunch of time, because the dough rises once overnight in the fridge and then 1-2 hours before baking the next time.

Author’s note: Bon Appétit had a big implosion of structural racism in 2020, with most of their POC and women on-video people leaving, including Sohla El-Waylly. If you want to support them, you can find those people doing things on their own now! For example, Sohla does regular things with NYT Cooking and elsewhere now.

The recipe

This is the adjusted recipe as I am making it, read below for how I arrived here from the original one.




glaze (optional):


  1. tongzhang
    • add 100g of yoghurt and 20g of flour to small pot
    • whisk at medium heat until it has a sticky pudding-like texture
      • be careful here, this burns quickly if not paying attention
    • take of heat immediately, transfer to different container to not cook it further!
  2. make the dough
    • warm remaining yoghurt and 6 tbsp oil to 36°C (about body temp, should not feel hot or cold)
    • combine with yeast and 50g sugar
    • mix dry ingredients (remaining flour, baking soda and salt) for dough
    • combine yoghurt mix, dry ingredients and tongzhang; mix until a ball forms (will look very wet at first)
  3. knead & fold
    • put on unfloured surface (dough should still be wet and sticky)
    • knead, pushing away from you and then pulling it back towards you; until a smooth ball forms (~3 minutes)
      • if too sticky, oil hands (and maybe surface)
      • don’t add flour!
    • roll into 20cm square, fold twice in half to get a 10cm square
    • roll back into 20cm square, fold again like before to 10cm square
  4. let it rise!
    • oil bowl with 1 tbsp. oil
    • add dough, turn over to coat in oil
    • cover tightly with cling foil
    • rest overnight for 8 hours (up to 1 day)
  5. make the filling

    • ???

    simpler alternative:

    • cover rolled out with a nice layer of butter
    • sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon to taste
  6. prepare the dough

    • punch down dough! (ouch?)
    • roll out dough on unfloured surface to 20cm square
    • fold twice again to 10cm square
    • roll out to 30cm square, about 0.6cm thick
  7. assemble the buns!

    • grease round cake tin/ceramic thing with remaining 1 tbsp oil (9 buns, ~25cm diameter should work)
    • cover rolled out dough with filling from above; leave 1cm or a bit more of free space at the farthest end (to “close” the buns at the end)
      • if using the date filling, sprinkle remaining sugar on top
    • roll into tight roll from closest edge to the one with the free space
    • cut off ~1cm at each end for clean finishes with serated knife
      • i like to bake the ends with the regular buns and then use them as samples
    • slice into three equal sections, then each section into three buns
      • wash knife in between with hot water for cleaner cuts
    • place buns side-down into greased cake tin
    • cover with aluminium foil or lid, let rise for 1-1.5 hours until doubled in size
      • should spring back and leave a small indent when poked
      • buns should be pretty close together in the tin and touch so that they grow taller when baked
  8. bake ‘em!!

    • pre-heat oven to 180°C
    • bake covered for 20 minutes until “puffed, pale and mostly set”
    • remove lid/cover
    • bake 15 minutes uncovered until golden brown for soft and squishy buns

Add glaze if you want one; and then serve still warm! Eat soon (same day) for the nicest texture!


I like to change things a bit, or somethings have to:

The Story

The original recipe uses buttermilk and eggs, which are not a thing in vegan baking. So we need to replace them somehow.

First, Tangzhong to the rescue! Tangzhong is basically a little pudding made from some of the water and flour in the dough, which somehow binds liquid and keeps it in the dough, making it softer and fluffier than it might otherwise be. This replaces the egg in the recipe, which seems to play a similar role. (I am guessing here, )

The flakyness comes from using a good amount of oil in the dough, which is worked in after kneading by covering the dough in oil and then folding it a couple of times. (Twice!)

And finally the buttermilk we can just replace with vegan yoghurt, which seems to work well enough.

Wait! Actually the most troublesome part is converting the measurements from metric to grams and then calculating how much liquid and flour we are using in the tangzhong. This amount we then need to subtract from the original recipe because tangzhong does not add or take away any mass from a recipe, it just uses some of the liquid and flour in different ways.

So you’ll need a scale as well because this seems to be a rather precise thing.

The Math

Replace egg and add tongzhang while keeping hydration the same.

Hydration: $water\ from\ wet\ ingredients / flour = hydration$.

Original recipe hydration: ~60%: $(180g + 56g * 0.75) / 375g = 0.592$ (180g + 56g * 0.75 = 222g\ water content)

One large egg = 56.7g, has ~75% water content => $56g * 0.75 = 42g$ water that needs to be added into the recipe.

Our hydration: $42g / x = 0.6$ => $42g / 0.6 = 70g$ flour for tongzhang taken from total amount of flour. (Thank you to J for listening to me talking this through, which made me realize this calculation made no sense at all.)

When we use tongzhang we need the hydration to be 75% instead, so we need to increase the amount of water in the recipe.

So: $375g\ flour * 0.75 = 281g\ water$ to get 75% hydration. So we need $281g - 222g = 59g$ additional water in the recipe. But because we don’t have the egg we also need 42g more to add the water content of the egg back in?

Finally we usually use 5-10% of the flour in the recipe for the tongzhang and the tongzhang is 1 part flour to 5 parts liquid. So $375g * 0.05 = 18.75g$ of flour to $93.75g$ of water, or up to $375g * 0.10 = 37.5g$ of flour to 187.5g of water.

It might be simpler, quoting from the same article again:

I’ve now made this standard slurry often enough that this is what I use for any yeast recipe calling for between 3 and 4 cups of flour: 3 tablespoons (23g) of the flour in the recipe + 12 cup (113g) of the liquid.

Remember, you’re using flour and liquid from the recipe, not adding extra flour and liquid! Take that into account when you’re measuring out the remaining flour and liquid for the dough.

Our recipe has 375g = 3 cups of flour, so maybe let’s go with that. Now only to decide whether to add the additional liquid for the higher hydration in water, milk or yoghurt. Let’s go with yoghurt because that is what we are using anyways.