Who doesn't love sticky buns?! I also love the convenience of making them the day before and letting the slow cooker do all the proofing and baking.
Technique tip: To speed up the dough fermenting when your kitchen is cold, turn your oven on the warm setting while measuring your ingredients. When the dough is wrapped up, turn the oven off, wrap the bowl in a kitchen towel and place it in the warm oven. It won't be so hot that it kills the yeast, and the towel will help keep it cozy.
Swap option: If you don't have an issue with dairy, go ahead and use real butter and milk instead of vegan butter and almond milk!
For the dough:1.
In a small bowl, combine the warm water, 1 teaspoon of sugar and the yeast. Make sure the water is not too hot; it should feel like warm bath water (approximately 110°F). Set aside for about 6 to 7 minutes so the yeast can activate (it'll look foamy when ready).2.
Put flour, 1/3 cup sugar, and salt in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the dough hook (if mixing by hand, use a large, deep bowl).3.
In a small microwaveable bowl, melt the butter and shortening together. Stir in the almond milk. The mixture should be lukewarm (if it's any hotter, let it cool off for a minute). Stir in all of the yeast mixture until just combined. Make sure you pay attention to this step; you can kill the yeast if the liquids are too hot.4.
Pour the wet yeast mixture into the flour mixture and turn your mixer on to low speed. You can also mix by hand using a large wooden spoon. Mix for approximately one minute, until all of the flour has been absorbed (if the dough feels a little stiff and dry, add a tablespoon or two of almond milk during mixing. If the dough is too wet, sprinkle in a little flour. The humidity in kitchens can vary; it's ok to add a little flour or milk here and there to get your desired results!).5.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl and if using a mixer, continue mixing on low speed for 3 minutes. The dough will be slightly sticky but should be collected in one smooth mass in your mixing bowl. If mixing by hand, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and knead by hand for 3-4 minutes, till the dough is nice and smooth.6.
Once the dough is finished, scrape it out of the bowl and pour a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil into the bowl. Throw the dough ball back in and give it a quick flip to coat the whole thing. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm spot to rise for 30-45 minutes. The dough should almost double in size.
For the cinnamon-sugar filling:
In a small bowl, mix the coconut sugar and cinnamon and set aside.
For the sticky nut filling:
In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients and stir until well combined. Set aside in a warm spot. For the coconut caramel sauce: In a small pot over medium heat, melt the vegan butter, stir in both sugars and bring to a boil. Pour the sauce into the bottom of your crock-pot.
For the royal icing:
Combine all ingredients in a medium bow and beat with a hand mixer until smooth.
To assemble and bake:1.
Once your dough is done resting and has almost doubled in size, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and pat it out into a large rectangle about 12- by 8-inches. It should be about 1/2-inch thick. The long end should be closest to you.2.
Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar mixture over the entire surface, smoothing it to make a nice even layer. Then, spread the sticky nut filling over the front half of the dough (the closest half to you).3.
Grab the end of the dough and roll it up, rolling as tightly as possible, keeping the filling in place. Pinch the seam of the dough to close your roll. Place it seam-side down and use a serrated knife to slice 2 inch–thick buns. You should have about 8-9 pieces.4.
Place your cut rolls into the crock-pot directly on top of the caramel sauce, cut-side down. They should be almost touching, or just lightly touching each other. Put a sheet of plastic wrap over the top of the crock-pot (most slow cookers don't have a tight-fitting lid; you need the plastic wrap to keep the hot air inside to "bake" the rolls). Put the lid on top of the plastic wrap and turn the crock-pot to "high". Cook for 1½ hours.5.
After an hour and 15 minutes, check the rolls. It's important not to check them before this; if you open the lid you will let all the heat out you've created and will lose valuable cooking time. A thermometer inserted in the bready part of the rolls should read at least 180°F. If not, return the lid and bake for another 15 minutes. Turn the crock-pot off.6.
While still hot, remove the inner crock from the machine and carefully invert it onto a large platter or tray. Drizzle with the royal icing and enjoy!