Monday, November 8, 2010

Fall in a bite: pumpkin cinnamon rolls with maple icing

It is grey and rainy, chilly but not really cold. Leaves are falling from the trees, even the sidewalks of this not-very-green city are carpeted in browns, yellows, reds and oranges. When I ride home from work on my bike, I smell the first roasted chestnuts of the season and all I want to do is sit in front of a blazing fire and peel them, quickly moving them from hand to hand to avoid burning myself and getting my fingers all black and sooty.

I like the fall, when it starts getting dark early and you look forward to getting home and putting on your comfy loungewear; when you eat soup every evening and you still want more; when you start planning for the holidays and making lists, only to end up doing everything last minute anyway and promising you will get it right next year.

We had a busy week end ahead of us, an authentic Brazilian feijoada dinner (pig tails included! Delicious) on Saturday evening and a lunch on Sunday. I was in charge of desserts and wanted to make something that tasted like autumn. Something people haven't tasted here. Something I could make in large batches.

I combined a couple of recipes (adapted from Recipe Girl and Pioneer Woman), using the dough and frosting from one and the filling and some tips from the other. I rolled out and rolled over, a little pumpkin here, a pinch of cinnamon there, a dash of maple syrup to top it off.

Result: heaven, fall in a bite...or rather in a roll.

There are several steps to this recipe and it takes a little time (perfect for a rainy November afternoon), but don't be put off by this, it is simple. If  I made it, so can you! 

Ingredients (for about 12 large rolls or 20 smaller ones)

4 tbsp melted butter
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup pumpkin puree (canned or fresh)
1 large beaten egg
1/2 cup warm water
1 packet active dry yeast
1 tbsp sugar
3 3/4 cups flour, plus extra

1/2 to 1 cup melted butter
1 cup sugar (I used brown sugar)
a generous amount of cinnamon

3 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted (oops, forgot to sift!)
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 tsp salt

Grease a non-reactive bowl with oil and set aside. Line your baking pan with parchment paper or grease it with butter.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the first 5 ingredients of the dough until well combined.
In a small bowl, whisk together warm water, yeast and 1 tbsp sugar. Let sit for 5 minutes until the yeast is frothy and active.
Place flour in a large mixing bowl. Add yeast mixture and pumpkin mixture to the flour. Stir until ingredients have incorporated into a dough. You can do this using a stand mixer of course. If kneading by hand, turn dough out onto a clean, lightly floured surface and knead for 8 to 10 minutes. The desired consistency of the dough should be soft and just slightly sticky. Add more flour as necessary throughout the kneading process until you achieve the proper consistency. My dough was extremely sticky and hard to work with at the beginning: I had to add so much flour (almost a cup) that I was worried I would ruin it, but it turned out perfect.

Form dough into a ball and transfer to the oiled bowl. Toss dough around in the bowl to coat all sides lightly with oil. Cover with greased plastic wrap and a tea towel and place in a warm spot, letting the dough rise until nearly doubled, usually 1 to 1 ½ hours.

Roll dough to form a rough rectangle on a large, lightly floured surface. While rolling out the dough, make sure it’s not sticking to the surface. If it is, lift the dough and sprinkle flour underneath.
Drizzle 1/2 to 1 cup of melted butter over the dough, then sprinkle 1 cup of sugar (I used a little less, approx. 3/4 cup) over the butter followed by a generous sprinkling of cinnamon.
Sarting at the opposite end, start rolling the dough towards you, as tightly as possible. Pinch the seam of the roll to seal.

Cut the rolls approximately 1 inch thick and lay them in the buttered pan. I used the tips too: even if they don't look quite as pretty, I had many mouths to feed. I guarantee there wasn't one left. Let the rolls rise for a further 20 to 30 minutes, then bake at 375°F (190°C) until golden brown (approximately 20-25 minutes).

In the meantime you can start making the icing. Whisk together the cream cheese, powdered sugar, maple syrup and salt.

When your rolls are ready, remove from the oven and let cool for a while before icing. Then place a serving dish of your choice over the dish of cinnamon rolls and invert rolls onto it. I kept mine in the baking dishes to make transporting them easier. Spoon icing evenly over the rolls, dribbling it down the sides.

You can prepare the rolls ahead of time and store them in the fridge overnight before baking them. You can let them rise before putting them in the oven. Or you can even just store the dough for a couple of days in the fridge before rolling it out. I am sure these also freeze pretty well.

Thanks to F, who was assistant photographer. Finally some action pictures! I may have to hire him full time, he did a nice job. Then again, a lot of my cooking happens during soccer time, so I guess not...


  1. You are amazing with all these step by step photos! Unbelievable!

    I love fall too and yes have made many a Christmas shopping list... only to hold out too long and then do everything last minute!

    These rolls look so delicious, your dough perfect! Super impressed!

  2. D,W&D - I compensate quality with quantity, hehe... No, seriously, thank you dear!

  3. The rolls look wonderful. I will have to take this recipe to try. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Oh my gosh,your recipe came just in time. I just finished baking the largest pumpkin ever, and I was trying to come up with different recipes. Your rolls look so delicious. I can't wait to try out the recipe.

  5. My K in the R - These really were delicious. We ate them at room temperature, but I can imagine nothing better than eating them warm out of the oven.

    Anna - Glad to help. If you are looking for other ways to use up your pumpkin puree check out the pumpkin gnocchi and the lybian tershi dip. A full meal out of a pumpkin!

  6. Wow! I would luv to make these! Appreciate all the process pictures. Makes it seem like not such a daunting recipe... Looks delicious!!!

  7. Glad these turned out so great! I'm jealous of your large work surface there where you're rolling out the dough. Now I'm craving cinnamon rolls again.

  8. Ur Mom Cooks - Yeah, when I saw Pioneer Woman's photos I felt much more encouraged to give them a try. It really is simple, you just need the time for all the rising, but it is SO worth it.

    Recipe Girl - Thanks for the great recipe and the beautiful pictures, which really inspired me to give it a try. Work surface seems huge in the pictures but is actually just our plain old square Ikea kitchen table.

  9. Oh YUM. These look like heaven on a plate. You've captured the essence of fall perfectly with these.


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