Pumpkin may be a fall staple, but I’ll be the first to sign the petition to have pumpkin recipes all year long. These pumpkin cinnamon rolls are a Huber Thanksgiving break tradition, but should really be made anytime of the year.
It can be tempting to unroll a pack of premade cinnamon rolls (I do it too), but once you taste the homemade version, it’s hard to go back. Yes there are a couple of rising times, but the dough is so easy and non-tempermental, it’s hard to complain. You can even prep them the night before and then simply pull them out of the fridge the next morning for an hour to rise before baking.
The ingredients list of the Pillsbury cinnamon rolls is pretty cringe-worthy including things like partially hydrogenated soybean oil, corn syrup solids, monoglycerides, polysorbate #60, and Red 40 (why?). Cinnamon rolls are definitely a special treat, but I feel far less bad about eating them knowing everything came from our kitchen.
Warning: these go fast. Double the recipe, including the frosting, and divide between two pans if making for a crowd.
PUMPKIN CINNAMON ROLLS WITH VANILLA CREAM CHEESE FROSTING:
- Inspired by Smitten Kitchen
- Yields: 8-10 cinnamon rolls
For the dough:
- 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
- 1/4 cup whole milk, warmed in the microwave for 15 seconds on high
- 1 1/8 tsp. active dry yeast
- 1 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour + extra for rolling out the dough
- 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
- 2 Tbsp. white sugar
- 1/2 tsp. sea salt
- 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp. ground ginger
- 1/3 cup 100% pureed pumpkin
- 1/2 egg *I usually beat 1 egg in a cup and then divide it in half, saving the other half for scrambled eggs.
For the filling:
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 2 Tbsp. white sugar
- pinch of sea salt
- 1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
For the vanilla cream cheese frosting:
- 2 oz. full-fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 1 Tbsp. whole milk
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted
- 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- For the dough: In a small saucepan, melt your butter and brown it a bit over medium heat.*To brown your butter, continue cooking it a few minutes longer after it melts. It will start to sizzle and a nutty brown color will develop. Pull it off the heat before it darkens too much and burns.
- In a medium bowl, combine your warmed milk and yeast. Set aside for 5-7 minutes until it is foamy. Also, spray a large mixing bowl with non-stick spray and set aside.
- In the bowl of your standing mixer with the paddle attachment, mix together the dough’s flour, sugar, salt & spices. Add about 2/3 of your melted brown butter, the yeast with milk, pureed pumpkin & egg and mix on low until just combined. Then switch to the dough hook and allow it to knead on low for 5 minutes. At this point it should come together in a ball. Turn out the dough into the prepared bowl with nonstick spray and cover it with a clean kitchen towel. Allow it to rise in a warm place* for 1 hour until doubled in size. *Tip: I usually use our oven to guarantee a warm, draft-free place for the dough to rise. Preheat your oven to its lowest temperature (around 170 degrees F usually) and then turn it off once the bowl of dough has been added. Do not open the oven while the dough is rising.
- For the filling: While the dough is rising, you can mix together the filling ingredients in a bowl. Blend everything together with a fork until crumbly and set aside. You can also get a 9 in. cake pan and spray it well with non-stick spray. Set aside until ready to bake.
- For the rolls: Once the dough has risen, lightly flour your clean countertop and scoop out the risen dough onto the counter. Roll the dough into an approximately 8 x 5 in. rectangle. Brush the rest of your brown butter over the dough’s surface. Sprinkle on the filling evenly over the dough and press down lightly with your hands. Starting with the longer side, roll in the dough into a tight spiral. *The dough will be soft and some of the filling might fall out, but it’s okay. Using a serrated knife, very lightly (to prevent squishing) cut the rolled up dough into 1 to 2 inch rolls. You should end up with 8-10 rolls. Add the rolls to the prepared cake pan with a bit of space between one another and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Allow them to rise in a warm, draft free place for another 1 hour. The rolls should spread out and take up the whole pan once done rising. Tip: If you’re making these ahead of time, stop after adding the sliced rolls to the pan. Cover with Saran wrap and put them in the fridge until ready to bake. When you’re ready to bake, take them out of the fridge and allow them to rise in a warm, draft free place for an hour before baking.
- During the last 15 minutes of rising, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F (remove your rolls if they are in there rising!). Once preheated, bake the rolls for 20-25 minutes until golden brown on top.
- For the frosting: While the rolls are baking, add all the frosting ingredients to a medium bowl. With an electric hand mixer, beat everything together until well-incorporated. *This makes a thick frosting. Add more milk, a tablespoon at a time, if you’d like it to be thinner for drizzling.
- Once the rolls are done, drizzle or spread on the frosting and serve immediately!