Soft Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls filled with a gooey cinnamon swirl and topped with maple cream cheese icing.
Entire post, recipe, & photography was updated with improvements on 10/3/2013. The rolls are now more flavorful, softer, and more pumpkin-y. I’m a true perfectionist.
I have gotten so many requests for pumpkin cinnamon rolls this year. I just love the way you all think. Pure geniuses, I tell ya. It was only a matter of time before I dove into the world of yeasted pumpkin dough. That’s right, pumpkin IN the dough. And I am so thankful I took the plunge. I have you to thank.
These incredibly gooey cinnamon rolls have to be my favorite breakfast indulgence… ever. Unraveling each doughy pumpkin coil and tasting the melty pumpkin spices inside is my definition of “autumn heaven.” Look that phrase up in the dictionary; a picture of THESE rolls will be shown.
I’m on a total pumpkin binge right now and this is only the beginning of Sally’s 2013 Pumpkin Madness. Fellow Baltimorians: if pumpkin is sold out of your grocery store, I am likely the culprit…
Drenching today’s glorious pumpkin pastries is a homemade maple cream cheese glaze. I love maple and pumpkin together and am dying to make a batch of pumpkin pancakes just so I can drown them in maple syrup. Total comfort food, am I right?
I made today’s spiced-pumpkin rolls late yesterday morning so I could get some good pictures of them in the afternoon light. I tasted one and vowed to save the rest for breakfast today. But I couldn’t hold off! I had a pumpkin cinnamon roll for dinner. With a salad. Life’s all about balance, right?
Want to make a batch of these irresistible pumpkin cinnamon rolls at home? Make sure you read the details I’ve described below before making the recipe.
First things first. Make your pumpkin dough. Warm 1/3 cup of milk with 2 Tablespoons of butter. Please use milk with a fat in it like 1% or 2%. The rolls don’t taste as dreamy with nonfat milk. Warm the two together until the butter is *just* melted. A few butter specks is OK. You want the mixture lukewarm, not scorching hot. Then, using your electric mixer, beat pumpkin puree, brown sugar, a dash of nutmeg, and salt together on medium speed. Add your warmed milk/butter to this mixture and beat until combined. Then add 1 beaten egg and the yeast. Beat all of this together for 30 seconds.
Let’s talk about the yeast for a second. My favorite is Red Star Platinum. Great dough baking begins with great yeast. Their platinum line produces the fluffiest, softest dough in the world.
Now let’s talk about the flour. The first time I made these rolls, I used all-purpose flour. The rolls were wonderful, but the second time I made them I chose to use bread flour. The bread flour makes them much softer! You may use all-purpose flour, but just know that the rolls will be slightly softer using bread flour.
Back to the recipe. At this point, you will add 1 cup of flour and turn your mixer to low speed. Mix for 5 full minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl frequently. Add 1 and 1/4 cups more flour and beat for 1 more minute. The dough will be VERY, very, very soft. That’s ok! You want it nice and soft. Place the dough in a bowl coated with nonstick spray. Rotate it in the bowl so the top is coated with the spray too (or just spray the top lightly). Cover and allow to rise in a warm, draft-free environment until doubled in size, about 60-75 minutes. Here’s a little trick that I’ve learned: preheat your oven to 200F degrees. Turn it off. As it is cooling down, place the covered dough inside. Allow to rise in that warm, closed-in area.
Your dough will have ballooned up in that time! It will be very puffy and look like this (excuse the iPhone photo):
Punch the dough down to deflate it and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, a pastry mat, or a silicone baking mat. Knead the dough a few times to form a smooth dough. You will need to add 1/4 cup more flour to make it easy to handle. The dough will stick to your hands, so flour your hands as well. You want the dough as soft as possible, so don’t go adding too much flour. You’ll be tempted to keep adding more and more, but don’t. Trust me. Anywhere from 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup of flour would be OK in this step.
Next, roll the dough out into a 16×10 inch rectangle. Anywhere around that general size will be just fine. On top of your dough, spread 3 Tablespoons of melted butter, 1/2 cup of brown sugar, and a whole bunch of pumpkin spices. I used 1 Tablespoon of cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon of cloves, 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg, and 1/4 teaspoon of all-spice.
*You may use 2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice instead of the last 3 spices I just listed.
After the dough is rolled out and covered with your filling, roll it up tightly and cut into 10-12 pieces with a super, super, super sharp knife. I always cut off the ends of the dough log, but if you choose to leave them – you could have 13 rolls instead of 11. Some of my rolls were a bit larger than others because I didn’t measure how big each one was. If you’d like to be precise, go for 1.5 inch slices.
Arrange the rolls into a 9-inch pie or square dish, or an 11×7 baking pan – lightly sprayed with nonstick spray, like so:
Allow the rolls to rise again until double in size, for about 1 hour. During this time you can light fall candles, browse Pinterest, and vacuum your living room. Which is exactly how I spent that time waiting.
Or use my overnight option, which I noted at the bottom of the recipe below. That step saves time in the morning.
Here is a photo of the rolls after they have doubled in size. They are all so squished together, I love it:
Now it’s time to bake them! My rolls took about 26 minutes. I covered them for the last 10 minutes to prevent the tops of browning too much. All ovens are different and I would say to keep an eye on them after 20 minutes.
Here is a photo of the rolls after their baking adventure in the oven:
And now? The maple cream cheese glaze. Ohhhh yes. I make the glaze as the rolls are finishing up in the oven.
I highly recommend you use pure maple syrup for the best flavor. First, beat 3 Tablespoons of softened cream cheese (not low fat). Once smooth, add 1/4 cup of pure maple syrup, 2 Tablespoons of milk, and 1 cup of confectioners’ sugar. Beat it all into creamy perfection. And slather it all over the warm pumpkin cinnamon rolls.
The pumpkin cinnamon rolls taste best when they are warm. The gooey brown sugar/pumpkin spice filling will get all over your fingers. The sticky maple cream cheese glaze will melt into every crevice. The soft insides of the pumpkin dough will make you wish it was pumpkin season all year (in my world, it is).
Because of pumpkin’s dense nature, the rolls aren’t as pillowy as my traditional cinnamon rolls. However, they’re still extremely soft and just as scrumptious. How can you resist something looking like THIS?
Don’t you want to reach through the screen??
I hope to make these rolls again for my family over Thanksgiving. I get all of my pumpkin-lovin’ from them. My dad loves pumpkin pie even more than I do!
Recipe & photos updated 10/3/2013 with improvements.
Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
Super soft Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls filled with a gooey cinnamon swirl and topped with maple cream cheese icing.
Yield: 10-13 rolls
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours, 20 minutes. See notes for overnight instructions.
- 1/3 cup (80 ml) milk*
- 2 Tablespoons (30 grams) unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup (120 grams) 100% pure pumpkin
- 2 Tablespoons (30 grams) dark brown sugar (or light brown)
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 2 and 1/4 teaspoons (1 standard package) instant active dry yeast
- 2 and 1/2 cups bread flour (340 grams) OR all-purpose flour (315 grams)*
- 1/2 cup (100 grams) dark or light brown sugar
- 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon EACH ground nutmeg and ground cloves*
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice*
- 3 Tablespoons (45 grams) unsalted butter, melted
Maple Cream Cheese Glaze
- 3 oz (84 grams) full-fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 1/4 cup (82 grams) pure maple syrup
- 2 Tablespoons (30 ml) milk
- 1 cup (120 grams) confectioners' sugar, sifted
- Read all of the instructions typed out in the post above before beginning the recipe.
- Make the dough: warm the milk and butter together over the stove or in the microwave. Warm the two together until the butter is *just* melted. A few butter specks is OK. You want the mixture lukewarm (105-115F degrees), not scorching hot. Set aside. Using your electric mixer with paddle attachment, beat pumpkin puree, brown sugar, a dash of nutmeg, and salt together on medium speed. Add your warmed milk/butter to this mixture and beat until combined. Then add 1 beaten egg and the yeast. Beat all of this together for 30 seconds, then turn your mixer to low speed and add 1 cup of flour. Mix for 5 full minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl frequently. Add 1 and 1/4 cups more flour and beat for 1 more minute. The dough will be VERY, very, very soft. Place dough into a bowl coated with nonstick spray. Turn the dough around in the bowl so all sides of the dough are coated. Cover tightly with plastic saran wrap and allow to rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size. This will take about 60-75 minutes. I place my dough into an oven that I pre-heated to 200F degrees and then turned off. Read above for more specific details.
- The dough will be very puffy after this time. See above for how the dough should look. Punch the dough down to deflate it and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, a pastry mat, or a silicone baking mat. Knead the dough a few times to form a smooth dough. You will need to add 1/4 cup more flour to make it easy to handle. The dough will stick to your hands, so flour your hands as well. You want the dough as soft as possible, so don't go adding too much flour. Anywhere from 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup would be OK.
- Make the filling: Roll the dough out into a 16x10 inch rectangle. Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, and spices into a small bowl. Spread the top with melted butter and then sprinkle evenly with brown sugar mixture. See above for a photo. Roll it up tightly. Using a very sharp knife, cut into 10-13 pieces, about 1.5 inches each. (I cut the ends off of my dough log, so I have 11 rolls). Arrange rolls into a 9-inch or 11x7 inch pan that has been lightly sprayed with nonstick spray. Allow the rolls to rise again in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size. This takes about 1 hour (or use my overnight option, detailed below).
- Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Bake the rolls for 22-28 minutes, covering with aluminum foil at the 15 minute mark to prevent heavy browning. My rolls took 24 minutes.
- Make the glaze: Using a handheld or stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the softened cream cheese in a medium bowl on medium speed until smooth. Add the maple syrup and milk and beat on high until smooth. Add the sifted confectioners' sugar and beat on medium speed until creamy. Pour over warm cinnamon rolls. Rolls taste best served on the same day, though they remain fresh for one day covered tightly at room temperature. Unglazed rolls freeze well up to 2 months.
*For the milk: please use milk with fat in it, such as 1% or 2%, or whole if you want a soft-textured roll.
*For the flour: As mentioned in the post above, I found that my rolls were softer using bread flour, as opposed to using all-purpose flour.
*2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice may be used instead of the starred spices listed in the filling.
Overnight: Prepare the rolls through step 4. Instead of allowing the cut rolls to rise in a warm environment, place the pan into the fridge and allow the rolls to rest for up to 14 hours before baking. When it’s time to bake the next day, allow the rolls to come up to room temperature and rise for 1 hour on the counter, or until almost doubled in size. Then, bake as directed.
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