Have you ever been happy to look outside and see that it’s cold and rainy, the wind whipping the last of those clinging leaves off the trees? This past weekend I was so happy to look outside and see those grey skies.
My plan was to stay in anyway and recipe test cinnamon rolls, and there’s something about the smell of yeasty dough rising in a bowl on the counter, a full pot of coffee, and rain hitting the window early on a Saturday morning that just feels right to me. We all love to be cozy right? And then when you pop these babies into the oven and the smell of cinnamon spice and pumpkin and bread fills your house it doesn’t matter what is happening outside. You are right where you want to be.
This recipe really takes your everyday cinnamon rolls up a few notches. The dough has such a silky beautiful texture to it; it’s a dream to work with. The butter in this recipe doesn’t need to be browned, you can just melt it and proceed, but as Deb from Smitten Kitchen says, if you’re melting it in a little pot on the stove anyway, you might as well let it go on a little longer and get all nutty and browned. (There’s really nothing to it, except the occasional swirl of the pot. That’s it.) The benefit you get from browning butter far, far outweighs the work involved.
When you’re cutting the log into rolls, I find it best to use a large sharp knife, and slice down in one quick movement like you mean it. Yes some filling will fall out, but scoop it up after your rolls are in the dish and scatter it overtop of them.
You can make these up to the part where they’re in their dish the night before, then just take them out in the morning for a final rise and pop them in the oven. If I woke up to the smell of these baking, you would be my hero.
2. Combine your warmed milk and yeast in a small bowl and set aside. After a few minutes, it should be a bit foamy. (If you’re yeast hasn’t foamed, or proofed, it may be expired or bad. Try again with a new pack before proceeding.)
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer combine flour, sugars, salt and spices. Add 1/4 cup of your melted/browned butter along with yeast-milk mixture, pumpkin and egg and mix until combined, then switch mixer to a dough hook and run it on low until the dough comes together into a lovely ball and is smooth and elastic, about 5-7 minutes. If you find the dough is overly sticky, sprinkle a tablespoon of flour over it with the mixer running to encourage it to come together.
4. Scrape mixture out onto the counter and gather it into a nice ball. Place it into a large oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. (I just spray my mixing bowl with non stick spray at this point and put the dough back in. Less dishes!) Set aside to rise until it about doubles. Depending on your kitchen’s temperature, this could take 1 to 2 hours.
5. While it is rising, prepare your pans. I used pie plates, but cake pans work too - round or square. Add a tablespoon of your browned/melted butter to the bottom of each pan and brush it around to cover.
6. In a small bowl, combine your filling ingredients with 1 Tbsp of your reserved melted/browned butter and stir with a fork until the mixture resembles wet sand.
7. Once your dough has risen, scoop it onto a well floured surface and flour the top of it. Roll the dough to an approximately 16×11-inch rectangle. Brush dough with reserved melted/browned butter, and sprinkle the filling over it, leaving 1/2 inch border of plain dough around the edges. With the long side of the rectangle facing you, roll the dough away from you in a spiral, as tightly as you can.
8. With the seam side down and using a large, sharp knife, slice the log into 16 rolls. I do it by first slicing it in half, right in the middle (2 pieces). Cut each of those two pieces in half, (4 pieces) then half again (8 pieces), and one more time for a total of 16 pieces.
9. Divide buns between two prepared pans, first placing a roll in the middle then placing the remaining 7 around it, pinching the seam tight to the dough as you place them. You can sprinkle any sugar that fell out while you were rolling them overtop of the rolls. If you have any melted/browned butter left, dab it over them, too. If you are making these ahead of time, cover them in plastic and put in the fridge. Take them out to have their final rise in the morning. If you are making these to eat straight away, cover them and leave on the counter to rise for about 45 minutes, until they’re puffy.
10. 15 minutes before you’re ready to bake them, heat the oven to 350°F.
11. To make the glaze, beat your room temperature cream cheese until it is light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar and buttermilk and continue beating. Start with less buttermilk and add more until you are happy with the consistency.
12. Remove the plastic and bake buns until golden and sugar is bubbly, about 20-25 minutes. Transfer pans to cooling racks and top with icing then dig in - they’re best served warm.
* 1 stick plus 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, to be divided over the rest of the procedure
* 1/2 cup whole milk, warm but not hot
* 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (from an envelope of yeast)
* 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling out
* 1/4 cup (packed) light or dark brown sugar
* 1/4 cup granulated sugar
* 1 teaspoon table salt
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
* 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom (optional)
* 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
* 2/3 cups pumpkin puree, canned or homemade
* 1 large egg
* Nonstick spray for coating rising bowl
* For the Filling
* 3/4 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
* 1/4 cup granulated sugar
* 1/8 teaspoon table salt
* 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
* 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
* For the Icing
* 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
* 2 tablespoons buttermilk, or milk
* 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted