breads · brunch

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Friends, anyone else feeling like you’re running on E? Between husband traveling, kids off school, kids home sick, doctors appointments, restructuring at work which has been hard and sad, volunteering at school, traveling to visit beloved family, seemingly endless rain and battling my winter blues, it has been a margin-less few weeks. Yesterday I tanked. It was bad. Many apologies had to be offered to my family. While I don’t like days like that, I’m thankful for the cue that I need to say “no” to some of the endless requests and take some time for myself. And I’m thankful for a husband who sees me and cares and rearranges his schedule to pick up kids from school so I can blog and go to a movie. By myself. If you see me, don’t have pity… celebrate that I get to be out all by myself!!

So Daylight Savings… can someone please banish it forever? In honor of my thirdborn who makes up all sorts of random claims, surely there are more people who battle seasonal depression than farmers who still need the time change. It’s a proven fact. Ok, not really.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

But what is a proven fact is how delicious and comforting these Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls are. You make them the night before, pull them out of the fridge to rise in the morning, bake them and make the frosting while they’re in the oven. Could be a really great Thanksgiving morning breakfast… just saying. I like these so much more than all the Thanksgiving food. But then again, I don’t love the Thanksgiving food…

Pumpkin Cinnamon RollsPumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

This recipe makes enough to share. Or to have a feast – I won’t judge. It makes 16-18 rolls in all. I cut mine into 18 so that I could share with another family of 6. When making bread in the winter when the house is cold (unless you also have a child who decides to set the thermostat on 78), I usually turn my oven on for a minute or two to get just a little bit of heat in it and let the dough rise in there. You don’t want it to get too warm though, so no more than a couple minutes. Any temperature will work since you just want it to feel a cozy warmth – not even 100 degrees.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Course Breakfast, Brunch
Yield 16 rolls



  • 6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter, to be divided
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) whole milk, warmed to 110-115°F (I usually use 2% because that's what I have)
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (from 1 .25-ounce or 7 gram envelope yeast)
  • 3 1/2 cups (440 grams) all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling out
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) light or dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (6 grams) 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 (160 grams) pumpkin puree
  • 1 large egg
  • Oil for coating rising bowl


  • 3/4 cup (145 grams) light or dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons (5 grams) ground cinnamon


  • 4 ounces (115 grams) cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) milk or buttermilk
  • 2 cups (240 grams) powdered sugar, sifted
  • Few drops vanilla extract (optional)


Make the dough:

  1. Melt your butter. Because browned butter makes everything taste better, you can go beyond melting it and keep it on the stovetop just until brown specks start to appear. It goes from browned to burned pretty quickly, so once it starts to get foamy, keep a close eye on it and swirl your pan (don't stir). It will smell nutty and delicious. Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly.

  2. Combine your warmed milk and yeast in a small bowl and set aside for about five minutes. It should be a bit foamy after that. If it’s not, you might have some bad yeast or maybe the milk was too hot and killed it. Start again with a newer packet.
  3. In the bottom of the bowl of an electric mixer combine flour, sugars, salt and spices. Add just 1/4 cup (or two-thirds of; leave the rest for assembly) of your melted/browned butter and stir to combine. Add yeast-milk mixture, pumpkin and egg and mix combined. Switch mixer to a dough hook and run it for 5 minutes on low.
  4. Scrape mixture into a large oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside for 1 hour in a draft-free place; it should just about double.
  5. While it is rising, line the bottom of two 9-inch round cake pans (or 8-inch round or 8-inch square) with parchment paper and butter the sides of the pan and the paper.

Assemble the rolls:

  1. Scoop dough onto a very well floured surface and flour the top of it well. With a rolling pin, roll the dough to an approximately 16×11-inch rectangle. Brush reserved melted/browned butter over dough (if you browned your butter, do everyone a favor and scrape out as much of the browned specks as possible). Stir together remaining filling ingredients and sprinkle mixture evenly over dough. Starting on a longer side, roll the dough into a tight spiral. It’s going to make a mess and things will spill out of the ends. It's ok. I just scoop it up and put it in the center of any that look like they could use a little extra goodness.

  2. Next you're going to cut them into approximately 1-inch sections, giving you your 16-18 rolls. You don't want to apply very much pressure and squish your rolls as you cut. So grab a long, serrated bread knife. Gently saw it back and forth, and if it's sharp enough, you really shouldn't need to use pressure. If you want less but bigger rolls, cut them a bit wider, say 1 1/2 inches.
  3. Divide buns between two prepared pans. You can sprinkle any sugar that fell off onto the counter over them. Cover each pan with plastic or bees wrap and let rise for another 45 minutes.
  4. If you’re doing this ahead of time, you can now put them in the fridge overnight. In the morning, leave them out for an hour to warm up and finish rising.
  5. 15 minutes before you’re ready to bake them, heat the oven to 350°F. Meanwhile, make the glaze. Beat your cream cheese with a mixer until it is light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar and vanilla. Drizzle in milk until you get the consistency you’re looking for, either thick enough to ice or thin enough to drizzle.

Bake and finish the rolls:

  1. Remove the plastic or bees wrap and bake buns for 25 minutes, until puffed and golden. Transfer pans to wire cooling racks and spoon the cream cheese glaze over them. Eat right away. This goes without saying because they'll smell so good, you won't be able to resist.


Source: Smitten Kitchen

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