Pumpkin Rolls

When rainy autumn weather begins taking its toll and darkness descends earlier than I anticipate, I like to wrap myself in blankets, wear ridiculously fuzzy socks, and marvel at how long my evenings suddenly feel. Time passes slowly after the sun sets and my eyes grow tired when the clock strikes ten. Somehow, despite my sleepiness and couch potato tendencies, I can't get myself to crawl into bed until after midnight.

Old habits die hard, it seems.

On the few occasions when I flip on the television or indulge in a few moments on Pinterest, I can't help but notice that holiday advertisements and Thanksgiving pies are already trying to sneak up on us. Even though I can avert my eyes in mild distaste at their early arrival, these thoughts of family togetherness and comfort food have managed to weasel their way into my subconscious thoughts.

It was only after I made these pumpkin rolls for the second time in a week (the first batch disappeared sooner than I would have liked) that I realized how lovely they would be graced upon a Thanksgiving table surrounded by family and friends. I wanted to shake my finger at myself for falling prey to commercialism so early in the season, but I couldn't bring myself to do it.

Perhaps I just miss the feeling of home.

These pumpkin rolls, however, are remarkable in their own right. They are neither sweet nor savory, but fall squarely in between, toeing the line with the skill of a tightrope walker. While I often make a recipe more than once to play around with ingredients or give it a few minor adjustments (as recipe developers will do), this time I followed the recipe exactly the second time I made these rolls. There was nothing I wanted to change about them, no minor detail that needed to be altered. It was a rare and beautiful moment, as if I had stumbled upon a hidden treasure in my kitchen.

I am so excited to share this recipe with you.

Pumpkin Rolls are perfect to share with friends and family over holiday dinners or enjoyed on a simple Sunday evening at home with loved ones. The rolls are lightly spiced and lightly sweetened, which allows them to fall to the savory or sweet side depending on your mood. I have enjoyed these rolls spread with maple cream cheese, drizzled with melted chocolate, prepared with a simple butter spread, and soaked in mashed potatoes and gravy. The pumpkin flavor is present, but mild, which makes them a good choice for pumpkin lovers and skeptical fathers alike.

One Year Ago: Spicy Pumpkin Taco Dip
Two Years Ago: Apple Tart with Almond Cream

Pumpkin Rolls

Yields 12 buns

1/2 cup (118 ml) barely warm milk
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 large egg
1 cup (245 grams) canned pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups (318 grams) bread flour

In a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer), sprinkle the yeast over the barely warm milk and allow to sit about 5 minutes until activated (looks frothy). Stir in egg, pumpkin puree, brown sugar, butter, spices, and salt. Gradually add bread flour, mixing until the dough comes together. If the dough is too dry and will not come together, add small amounts of water until it does. Conversely, if the dough is too sticky, add flour until it becomes workable; however, do not add too much flour or the bread will become dense.

Knead the dough for ten minutes, or until elastic. Cover dough with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and let rise until doubled in a warm place, about 2 hours. Punch down the dough before turning out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into 12 equal portions and shape each portion into a round ball. Place in a pan (or on baking sheets) coated lightly with cooking spray. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise for another 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the tops are lightly browned and the bread sounds hollow when tapped. Serve hot.

To reheat buns, preheat oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C). Bake rolls for 5-8 minutes, or until hot.