Monday, October 30, 2017

Amazing Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Still in search of a pumpkin-themed treat to make for breakfast, brunch, or as a midday snack? Can I entice you with a batch of Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls?

I have tried pumpkin cinnamon rolls before and have always been slightly frustrated with the recipe. The dough usually had way too much moisture due to the addition of pumpkin and I found myself adding copious amounts of extra flour just to get it to a point where I could knead it without having the entire mass adhere to my fingers. Not the case with this recipe. I found the proportion of flour, to butter, to sugar, to pumpkin to be absolutely spot on. I perhaps had to add a tablespoon of extra flour when kneading but that was it. It came together very quickly, rose beautifully, and was easy to roll out, fill, shape, and cut.

The smell of these rolls baking fills your house with sweet warm cinnamon, butter, and nutmeg better than any Yankee Candle. The kids love cinnamon rolls and were so excited for me to pull these out of the oven, but were equally disappointed when I told them they had to wait for Halloween to eat them. I always like to try to do something fun for Halloween and figured that a really yummy sugar-filled breakfast will help balance out all the sugar they will be eating the rest of the day. Makes sense, right? I promise I will feed them broccoli or something green before sending them out to trick-or-treat.

Speaking of trick-or-treating, how ironic was it that I had already planned for all three of my kids to dress up as physicians for Halloween before I wrecked my foot? Now, I get to dress up in theme with them - as their patient!

But back to the cinnamon rolls. I had originally planned on making a cookie butter glaze for them but ran out of cookie butter unknowingly. So I made a basic cream cheese frosting instead. However, I am still convinced that a cookie butter glaze would be amazing on this so someone please try it sometime. Basically, you just melt cookie butter in a saucepan and then whisk in a bit of milk to thin. Drizzle over the hot rolls - and that's pretty much it! I've made a pumpkin cake with a cookie butter glaze before and loved it so I can only imagine how fantastic it would be with these rolls. Not to take anything away from the cream cheese frosted version because they are still phenomenal. I hobbled out of the room for a second after frosting these and came back to find Lucy up at the counter, for in hand, happily eating one of the fresh rolls straight from the pan.

"Donuts very good, Mommy!" she confessed through a full, sticky mouth.

From the mouths of babes, folks, the verdict is in. Make these pumpkin cinnamon rolls before the fall season ends!

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting
adapted slightly from Averie Cooks

For the Dough:
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, or as needed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
2 1/4 teaspoons instant dry yeast
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted (1 stick)
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 large egg, lightly whisked

For the Filling:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon

For the Frosting:
4 ounces brick-style cream cheese (lite is okay), softened
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla OR maple extract
3-4 tablespoons half-and-half or cream, or as needed for consistency

To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, add 3 1/4 cups flour, sugar, pumpkin pie spice, yeast, salt. Mix together and set aside.

Melt the butter in the microwave for one minute and then immediately add the buttermilk and the pumpkin. Whisk together.

With the mixer running, add the pumpkin-buttermilk mixture to the bowl. Mix well, then add the egg. Continue kneading the dough for about 7-10 minutes on medium speed. The dough should come together into a nice, moist mass but if it is still stick at the bottom, add a bit of flour a tablespoon at a time. If it is dry and crumbly, drizzle in a bit of buttermilk until it reaches the correct consistency. Remove from the bowl and knead briefly into a round ball on the counter top.

Spray a large bowl with nonstick cooking spray and then add the dough ball to the bowl. Turn to coat and then cover tightly with plastic. Set aside in a warm place to rise for about 2 1/2 hours. This dough will take a lot longer to rise because of the sugar content. If your room is cold, the dough might take even longer. Let it take as long as it needs to double!

While the dough rises, prepare the filling by mixing together 1 cup of brown sugar and 2 tablespoons of cinnamon. Set aside.

When ready to shape the dough, butter a 9x13 glass baking pan. Punch the dough down and turn out onto a lightly floured countertop. Roll out the dough to a 26x13 inch rectangle. Using your hands, spread the softened butter all over the dough, then sprinkle the brown sugar mixture over the top, pressing lightly to adhere.

Starting on the long side of the rectangle, tightly roll the dough up. Press the seams together to stick. Turn the rolled log seam-side down and with a serrated knife or unflavored dental floss, cut the log into 12-16 rounds. Place the rounds in the prepared 13x9 pan. Cover tightly with plastic and let rise for an additional 1-2 hours, or until doubled.

While the rolls rise, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. When ready, bake the rolls for 15-20 minutes or until lightly golden on top and baked through. Keep an eye on them because the baking time will vary depending on your equipment and how big you sliced the rolls. Remove the rolls from the oven and let the pan cool slightly while you prepare the Cream Cheese Frosting.

To make the frosting, in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Carefully add the powdered sugar, salt, and vanilla and beat for a few minutes until very smooth, scraping down the side of the bowl as necessary. Taste and adjust sugar/vanilla/salt as desired.

Evenly pour glaze over rolls, lightly spreading with a spatula as necessary.

Enjoy immediately or keep covered tightly in the refrigerator. Heat gently before serving any leftover rolls!

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