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.
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.
*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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