Yesterday was one of those days where everything felt like a nuisance. Answering a call, replying to an email, even shopping for fall boots, all seemed like such a tiresome task. It wasn’t until I was rolling out this pumpkin dough that I started feeling the therapeutic reward of baking. I turned on my favorite French music playlist, which is a mix of Louis Armstrong, Eartha Kitt, and Edith Piaf, and started to feel relaxation wash over me. Immediately, my mood was lifted and the heavenly scent of warm pumpkin filled my kitchen.
The distinctive smell of cinnamon and nutmeg, mixed with pumpkin, will let anyone who’s present know that it’s undeniably autumn. I just love that about baking. It gives you a sense of tradition, nostalgia, and happiness all throughout the process. These pumpkin cinnamon rolls were adapted from the recipe posted on the blog Inspired by Charm. They’re surprisingly airy for dough that’s got pumpkin in it. Pumpkin tends to make foods dense. I also made sure to use a light hand when handling the dough, favoring a sticky dough that was a bit tricky to work with. The less flour you use, the lighter your rolls will be.
This recipe has 3 parts: the dough, the filling, and the cream cheese icing. The pumpkin dough is first created and laid to rest for an hour of rising time. It’s then gently rolled out and buttered. The filling is a combination of white sugar, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice, and cinnamon all mixed together, which is then sprinkled onto the buttered dough. The dough is then rolled up, sliced into individual size rolls, baked, and then cooled before it’s topped with a cream cheese icing. The result is what I imagine angels in Heaven eat during the fall season: pure, divine, pumpkin-y goodness.
for the dough
- 1 tsp pkg yeast, 2 1/4
- 1/2 c warm water, 110°F
- 1/2 c scalded milk
- 1/4 c white sugar
- 1/3 c unsalted butter, melted
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 c canned pumpkin puree
- 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1 egg
- 4 1/2 c all-purpose flour
for the filling
- 1/2 c softened butter
- 1/2 c white sugar
- 1/4 c brown sugar
- 2 tbsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
for the icing
- 1 c powdered sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp milk
- 2 tbsp cream cheese, softened
- Get started on the dough by first dissolving the yeast in warm water. Set this aside.
- In your mixer's bowl, pour the scalded milk, white sugar, melted butter, salt, pumpkin puree, spices, and the egg. Mix together with a spoon until combined. Add in 2 cups of all-purpose flour and give the mixture a stir until it's all mixed in. Then attach the hook attachment onto your mixer, add the remaining 2 1/2 cups of flour, along with the yeast mixture. Knead the dough for 5 minutes.
- Use your spoon to slide the dough into a large greased bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise for 1 hour in a warm place.
- Meanwhile, create the filling by mixing the white and brown sugars with the ground cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice. Mix until combined very well.
- Once your dough has doubled in size, hold the bowl upside down to gently dump out the dough onto a very well-floured surface (flour every inch of your work surface that you plan on using). Sprinkle some flour on top of the dough before gently rolling it out into a 15 by 9 inch rectangle.
- Grab the 1/2 cup of softened butter and using a brush to smear butter all over the dough. Then take a spoon and sprinkle your sugar mixture throughout the dough until the dough is no longer visible underneath. Grab the long 15 inch side of the dough that is opposite of you and using a type-writer motion, gently roll the dough towards you until you end up with a long log, seam-side face down.
- Brush a 13 x 9 inch pan with the remaining softened butter from the previous step. Then, brush a bench scraper with some of the butter and use the scraper to cut the dough log into 12 to 15 slices. Use the scraper to scrape up any sticky edges and transfer the slices to the greased pan.
- Brush some softened butter on the tops of the rolls before sprinkling them with a bit more of the sugar mixture. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cover the pan with a loose towel and let the rolls rise for another 20 minutes.
- When the 20 minutes are up, place the rolls in the oven and bake them for approximately 35 minutes, until they're nice and golden (give the rolls a tap, and if you hear a hollow sound, they should be ready).
- To make the icing, simply whisk the powdered sugar, vanilla extract, milk, and cream cheese until it's completely smooth. Add more milk if necessary, but the consistency should be like thick pancake batter; it should drop off your whisk slowly. Once the rolls have completely cooled, pour the icing over the rolls.