These sticky swirly sweet banana cinnamon rolls are healthier, simpler, and sweeter than any ordinary cinnamon roll, and made in the oven with only fruit!
There are a lot of fruits I miss from my week at the Woodstock Fruit Festival. The sweet juice-drippy mangoes. The perfectly petite strawberry papayas. The hot pink pitayas that I suspect will never show up in any grocery store around here (especially since spell check doesn’t even believe ‘pitaya’ is a word). But there is one fruity sweet snack I miss most of all…
Banana Cinnamon Rolls! And when I mentioned them many of you seemed pretty eager to try them too, so I am finally sharing that recipe. Although I must say I will miss the delicious job of recipe testing these.
Fortunately dates, bananas, and cinnamon are neither exotic nor elusive ingredients. However, these bread-less buns are typically a raw recipe made in the dehydrator. But I don’t have a dehydrator, so I experimented with another way…
The oven. It’s the oven obviously. There is no other secret magical banana-drying method or anything, at least not the I know about. But rather than use the oven like a mock dehydrator at it’s lowest setting and have to wait forever for your sticky swirly rolls, I experimented until I found the highest possible temp that would still dry them out but not actually bake or burn them. Higher temperature = faster cook time = snacking sooner!
And I actually found the texture preferable with this method too–not as gooey need-twelve-napkins messy. You can pick up and eat these little banana bundles with grace.
It’s still a low and slow process that will take a few hours, but most of that time is just waiting while the oven does it’s work. The actual ingredients and assembly is very easy, and you really only need 3 ingredients! You could add vanilla or salt to the date filling. Or you could add raisins on top like they did at the festival. But honestly I just love them the simple banana + date + cinnamon way.
The trickiest part of the whole process is slicing the bananas lengthwise. If you’ve never tried to do that, trust me it’s much harder than it sounds. They have a tendency to break and mush everywhere.
A few tips…
– Use spotty but not overripe bananas. Bruises and mushy spots make it almost impossible.
– Slice each banana into 3 strips. In the video I attempted 4, but since then I have found that 3 is much more doable and actually makes for a sturdier cinnamon roll.
– Leave half of the peeling on and slice it in the peeling. It is easier to hold this way and gives the banana some support.
– The straighter the banana the better.
– If they do break, save those shorter strips. You can piece them together and roll them up inside larger ones.
These Banana Cinnamon Rolls are naturally SO sweet from the combination of candy-like dates and concentrated banana sugars. If you like those two fruits, you will love them. Better than any baked bread-style cinnamon roll will ever be if you ask me!
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- 4 spotty bananas
- 1 cup Medjool dates (about 12)
- 1/2 cup water
- Optional: 1 tsp vanilla and/or a pinch of salt
- Preheat the oven to 250F
- Slice the bananas lengthwise into 3 strips each (see tips in the post and watch the video for technique).
- Lay out the slices on 2 baking trays lined with parchment paper. Do not overcrowd. I recommend 6 slices per tray. If you have any smaller strips that broke, lay them out too.
- Bake for 1 hour at 250F.
- Remove from the oven and let them cool for 15-20 mins.
- Gently run a finger or dull knife under each slice to release it from the pan. Flip them over so the side with more moisture is facing upwards.
- Blend all the ingredients for the date paste.
- Spread about 1 tablespoon of date paste down the length of a banana slice. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Roll.
- Repeat with the remaining slices. You can roll the shorter pieces inside the longer strips.
- Arrange all the rolls on one lined pan.
- Return them to the oven for 1.5-2 hours at 250F.
- Remove from the oven. Allow to cool. Eat immediately or refrigerate for a firmer consistency. Keep leftovers in the fridge.