These cinnamon rolls are what holiday baking is all about: a rare treat that lets you play in the kitchen and create something that shows your love. This recipe takes more time and effort than my usual recipes, but it is still probably easier than clawing your way to a Cinnabon at the mall. I like to make one pan for my family and one to give away, but you can also bake all the tall rolls in one big casserole dish. My book club gave good reviews to the "potluck" sized cinnamon rolls made by cutting the rolls half as high.
Like my Good Whisk Bread, this recipe adds wheat germ to a mix of all-purpose and white whole wheat flour. You'll get the nutrition of whole wheat flour without "healthy" taste that makes some kids recoil and some relatives snort. Walnuts add crunch and raisins add sweetness and texture with a minimal amount of sugar.
Active time: 55 minutes. Total time: 2 hours and 30 minutes. Makes 9 to 10 tall rolls or 18 to 20 potluck rolls.
Considering reading this recipe through, setting out the ingredients, and choosing a warm place to let the dough rise before you start. Then plunge in with confidence! I've left out steps and ingredients several times while testing this recipe, but the results have always been delicious, if not always pretty.
2 cups unsweetened coconut drink or other plant milk (472 grams)
6 tablespoons buttery spread (84 grams) (I use Earth Balance Soy Free Buttery Spread)
2 1/4 teaspoons bread-machine or instant active-rise yeast (1 packet)
4 cups all-purpose flour (480 grams)
1/4 cup sugar (50 grams)
2 cups white whole wheat flour (240 grams)
1/2 cup wheat germ (64 grams)
1/2 teaspoon salt
plus more buttery spread or shortening to grease pans and flour for kneading
3 tablespoons buttery spread, melted (42 grams)
3/4 cup brown sugar (165 grams)
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1/2 cup raisins (80 grams)
Glaze and Topping
1/2 cup walnut pieces (55 grams)
3 tablespoons buttery spread, melted (42 grams)
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar (180 grams)
2 tablespoons coconut drink (32 grams)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- Put coconut milk and 6 tablespoons buttery spread in a microwave-safe measuring cup or medium bowl. Microwave for about 2 1/2 minutes until spread just melts, stirring every minute to distribute heat. The temperature should be about 120°F or baby-bottle temperature. When the milk is warm, melt 3 tablespoons of buttery spread in a small microwave-safe bowl, about 30 seconds at medium-high power.
- Put all-purpose flour, sugar, and yeast in a big bowl and stir to mix. Pour warm coconut milk into flour mixture, stir slowly until mixed, then stir briskly for another 30 seconds. Cover dough with white whole wheat flour, wheat germ, and salt but do not stir. Cover bowl with a plate and put in a warm place to rise for 10 minutes.
- While dough rises, mix brown sugar and cinnamon in a measuring cup or another bowl. Measure raisins. For tall rolls, grease two 9x2-inch cake pans or two 8-inch square baking pans or one 11x17x2-inch pan. For potluck rolls, grease twice that many pans. Of course, you can make a mix of tall and potluck rolls too. Set out a baker's bench scraper or a thin metal spatula for cutting the rolls. Flour a large cutting board (about 15x11 inches) or clean counter top.
- When dough finishes its first rise, heat the oven to 325°F with one oven rack in the center of the oven. Stir the flour blanket into the wet dough beneath until dough is well mixed and ropy. Put dough on the floured surface. Flour your clean hands and knead dough for about three minutes, until it feels silky and alive.Cut dough in half, put half back into the bowl, and cover with a plate.
- Sprinkle flour over top of dough and roll it out into a 15x11 inch rectangle. Put half the filling evenly on top of dough except for a 1/2-inch boarder on the long edge away from you: first spread melted buttery spread, then sprinkle cinnamon sugar, and finally sprinkle raisins.
- Roll dough in a tight log shape, starting with the long edge nearest you. Pinch long seam together, flour the counter to provide a resting place so dough doesn't stick when you cut it, and roll log onto flour so the seam side is down. For tall rolls, cut dough into 9 or 10 rounds with a smooth pressing motion and arrange evenly in a pan. For potluck rolls, do the same but make 18 to 20 rolls and use two pans. Reflour surface and repeat with remaining dough and filling. Makeahead tip: at this point, you can cover the pans with plates or foil and refrigerate until the next day.
- Put pans in a warm, humid place (I use my microwave as a rising box) or cover them lightly with clean kitchen towels to rise until doubled, about 40 minutes. Bake tall rolls for 40 to 45 minutes and potluck rolls for 35 to 40 minutes until tops begin to turn golden and your kitchen smells amazing. A baking thermometer put into the center of a roll should read about 200°F. Let pans cool on wire racks for about 10 minutes.
- Chop walnuts and sprinkle over rolls. Make glaze by melting remaining buttery spread in a medium bowl (use the bowl you heated the coconut milk in) and then stirring in powdered sugar, coconut drink, and vanilla until glaze is smooth. Drizzle glaze over rolls.
- Serve warm or at room temperature. Keeps covered at room temperature for about three days.
- To remove rolls from pan, loosen ends with a plastic knife, put a plate over the pan and hold tightly, then flip pan and plate over. Admire the spiral underneath each roll, a sight only seen to bakers and those who share our kitchens. Shake rolls loose, then flip rolls again onto their serving plate.
- Simpler, faster rolls. You can leave out the raisins, walnuts, and glaze and still have wonderful rolls.