Making these rolls has been a good reminder to stay flexible, to challenge my own rigid ideas about what I can do and how I should be doing it. A friend of mine, who is a highly accomplished vegan baker, says that she doesn’t accept the traditional wisdom that one shouldn’t bother veganizing a recipe that calls for more than two eggs. These recipes are just an invitation, she insists, to think about new and creative ways of achieving texture and rise. I agree.
I’m happy to say that this recipe went exactly as it should have. The rolls rose on schedule; they were pliable to kneading and rolling; they baked up to sweet, golden perfection. I included raisins and pecans because I’ve always loved a little texture in cinnamon rolls. It was a treat to pull the rolls apart and find the mix-ins hiding among ribbons of cinnamon and sugar. —Gena Hamshaw
To prepare the dough, place 3 cups of the flour, the sugar, salt, and yeast into a large mixing bowl. Heat the water and non-dairy milk in a small saucepan until it's 115 F, or hot to the touch but not so hot you can't stand to submerge a finger in it. Add the coconut oil and stir to combine.
Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the liquid mixture. Mix until the ingredients are forming a soft dough; add the extra 1/4 cup flour as needed if the dough is a bit sticky. Use a stand mixer to knead the dough on lowest speed for about 5 minutes, or do so by hand on a floured surface, until the dough is elastic. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, turn to coat, and cover. Allow the dough to rise in a warm place for an hour, or until doubled in size.
Transfer the dough to a floured surface and use a rolling pin to roll it out into a rectangle that's about 14 inches by 8 inches. Spread the melted coconut oil over the rectangle—just as much as you need for it to be well coated. Mix the cinnamon and sugar together, then sprinkle the mixture evenly over the dough, followed by the raisins and pecans. Roll the dough (from the long side) into a rope, then slice it into 11-12 pieces.
Line a rimmed baking sheet or a rimmed pie dish with parchment. Place the pieces, cut-side up, into the pan. Cover loosely and allow the dough to rise again for 1 hour.
Preheat your oven to 350 F. Uncover the rolls and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden. Allow them to cool slightly. If you'd like to glaze them, whisk the non-dairy milk and confectioners' sugar together until smooth, then pour the glaze over the muffins and allow it to set. Serve.
Gena Hamshaw is a certified nutritionist, recipe developer, and food blogger. She shares her latest culinary adventures at The Full Helping. She's the author of two cookbooks, Food52 Vegan (2015) and Choosing Raw (2014). She enjoys yoga, sweet potatoes, cashews, and things that are smothered in sauce.