It’s definitely pumpkin season, and those lovely, traffic-cone-orange pumpkins are everywhere! On our recent trips to the coast, we passed by one pumpkin patch after another, making it a very colorful and festive trip through Half Moon Bay. Here, in California, we are bombarded (in a good way) with everything pumpkin right now: pumpkin lattes, pumpkin bagels, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin ravioli, pumpkin juice, pumpkin pie of course, you name it they’ve made a pumpkin flavor of it (pumpkin sushi? Nah, just kidding!). Good thing we love pumpkin!
To jump on the pumpkin bandwagon, last weekend my daughter had some friends over to bake Old-Fashioned Soft Pumpkin Cookies for a special math teacher of theirs. We love these cookies and make them every year during this time of year, I guess you could call it a tradition of ours. However, it’s what we made with the leftover pumpkin puree that was absolutely mind-blowing. The addition of pumpkin puree to cinnamon rolls made it the softest, fluffiest, most delicious cinnamon rolls we have ever tasted. Where have pumpkin cinnamon rolls been all our lives?!? These cinnamon rolls had a very subtle pumpkin flavor, which we liked. The pumpkin puree’s main role was in creating the pillowy soft texture of the roll and adding a beautiful natural orange color. If you want to boost the pumpkin flavor though, you can add some pumpkin puree to the glaze and/or add some pumpkin puree to the filling, which I didn’t try, but read about since we were happy with just the hint of pumpkin flavor.
I like kneading dough and working with my hands, but sometimes I just want the easy way. Sometimes, I really want to make cinnamon rolls, but I REALLY want to watch the season finale of The Mysteries of Laura. My bread machine allows me to dump ingredients into the bread pan, turn on the dough cycle and walk away until the dough is ready. I’ve sacrificed other, probably more important, kitchen appliances to keep this lunker of a bread machine, since it takes up valuable real estate in our small kitchen, but I just can’t part with it (I mean it allows me to watch TV!). Of course this recipe can be made without a bread machine, a stand mixer would work just fine (but follow the original recipe from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe who perfected the recipe using the dough hook on her stand mixer). You can mix all of the ingredients (making sure the milk is warmed), starting with 1 cup of flour then adding the rest of the flour one cup at a time. Or mix ingredients in a bowl using a large spoon then turn out onto a floured board and knead by hand (don’t forget to let the dough rest and rise until double before you add the filling). Whatever way you choose to make the dough, the magic happens with the pumpkin puree and what it does to the texture of the rolls.
Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
- 3/4 cup 2% milk
- 3 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 large egg
- 3/4 cup pumpkin puree (Libby’s)
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
- about 4 cups all-purpose flour, more for handling dough
- 1 1/2 teaspoon yeast (Fleishman’s Bread Machine Yeast or Rapid Rise Yeast)
- 4 tablespoons butter, melted
- 2/3 cup medium packed brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon softened butter
- 1 tablespoon 2% milk
- about 3/4 to 1 cup powdered sugar, adjust to obtain desired consistency
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla optional: add pumpkin puree, 1 teaspoon at a time for desired taste
- Add all ingredients for dough into the bread pan of a bread maker, except the yeast which is added to the yeast dispenser.
- Set the bread machine to the ‘dough’ cycle.
- After the cycle is finished, let the dough rise in machine until doubled.
- Turn out dough onto well floured board and stretch out gently to about 14″x 20″ (roughly the size of my board).
- Spread melted butter onto the dough, leaving a 1/2 inch border along the top and bottom edge.
- Mix brown sugar and cinnamon together and sprinkle on top of butter.
- Tightly roll dough up and pinch the seam closed.
- Cut 1 1/4 inch slices and place on greased 9″x 13″ pan.
- Let rise until double in a warm location, about 1-1.5 hours.
- Bake at 350ºF for 20-22 minutes or until rolls are lightly golden brown (careful not to over bake).
- While the rolls bake, mix together the ingredients for the glaze.
- Drizzle glaze over warm baked rolls.
I’ve made these with Trader Joe’s and Libby’s pumpkin puree, and my family seems to like the rolls better with Libby’s puree, it seems to add a little more pumpkin flavor as well as color.
These cinnamon rolls are heavenly when served slightly warm from the oven. Next day, the rolls can be briefly microwaved to get back the softness although the glaze does melt into the roll (didn’t affect the flavor though). They also freeze well, once cooled I wrapped them in foil, and placed them in a freezer bag (they are definitely coming on our next campervan trip!). You can just thaw them to room temperature and eat, but a few seconds in the microwave after thawing does wonders.
Have a wonderful October and enjoy those pumpkin goodies while you still can!