Pumpkin Rolls, Two Ways

These rolls have a slight sweetness with a hint of spice. Total preparation time of about three hours (perhaps even a little more) takes into account the yeast's needed development, distributing air throughout the dough and contributing to its good texture. However a lot of this time can be used tending to other "callings." For the pumpkin, we most often use what's left from our Halloween jack-o-lantern. We try to find as large a sugar pumpkin as we can, and then, post-Halloween, cook (either roast or steam) the pumpkin flesh for use in a number of other dishes, such as Baked Pasta with Roasted Pumpkin.


¾ cup Pumpkin, freshPeeled, seeded, and cooked until tender enough to mash; can also use canned pumpkin
¼ cup Dark Brown SugarNot too densely packed
¼ cup Unsalted ButterSoftened to room temperature
1   Egg/sAt room temperature works best
¾ tsp Salt
4 cups Flour, All Purpose, Unbleached
¾ cup Potato waterWater left from cooking potatoes (see Ingredients, Stocks/Broth); tap water can also be used
1 tbsp YeastOr one package of granulated
¼ tsp Clove, GroundJust a little
¼ tsp Nutmeg, GratedScant
tsp Cinnamon, GroundUsed separately, both in dough and filling for pinwheel rolls
¼ tsp Cardamom, groundScant
2 tbsp White Sugar
2 tbsp Lightly Salted ButterScant


1 Mix the yeast in three tablespoons or so of lukewarm water. Let the yeast dissolve for a few minutes. I don't usually "proof," or test, the yeast for its bubbling capacity. I find the "yeast element" of baking to be trouble-free.
2 In a large mixing bowl, mix together the butter and the brown sugar until they're well-combined. I use a wooden spoon for this, but an electric mixer should work also.
3 Add the pumpkin and mix well.
4 Add the egg and combine until the mixture is homogeneous.
5 Mix in the salt, 1/4 teaspoon of the cinnamon, and the nutmeg, clove, and cardamom.
6 Add the potato water.
7 Add the yeast/water mixture and continue to mix.
8 Add 2 cups of the flour and mix for two minutes, or until the batter is smooth.
9 If using an electric mixer, I would recommend changing to a dough hook at this point.
10 Continue adding flour by half cups, mixing after each addition. You may need to add more flour until the batter becomes more like dough, but is still soft, and is beginning to come away from the sides of the mixing bowl.
11 At this point, if doing by hand, lightly flour a baking board or surface of some kind, and with the wooden spoon, clean to dough out of the bowl and drop onto the baking board (wood, marble, formica, whatever works).
12 Divide the dough in half.
13 Melt lightly salted butter.
14 Mix together remaining 2 teaspoons of cinnamon and white sugar.
15 Grease eight inch round cake pan and twelve cup muffin pan.
16 Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
17 With one half of dough, roll out quite thin, about 1/4 inch. Pour melted butter on top and distribute over dough surface. Sprinkle on cinnamon/sugar mixture, distributing well over surface of dough. Tightly roll dough lengthwise. Slice into twelve slices. Place these spiral rolls in muffin cups. Leave to rise.
18 Note: Before rolling the spiral rolls you could also spread over the dough other additions such as cracked nuts (pecans or walnuts), raisins, or even a streusel instead of the cinnamon sugar (For streusel:2 T. lightly salted butter, 3 T. dark brown sugar, 3 T. all purpose flour, 1 T. cinnamon, all rubbed together into small crumbles). Should you choose these additions or the alternate streusel, the product becomes more like a breakfast roll than a dinner roll.
19 With other half of dough, make a tube of about twelve inches. Slice into 10 pieces. Shape each piece into a round roll by pulling the dough from the top to the underneath of the roll as best you can. Place these round rolls in the cake pan. Let these rise until about doubled in bulk.
20 Bake the spiral rolls for about ten minutes or until golden on top. Bake the round rolls about 12 to 15 minutes or until golden on top.
21 These rolls freeze well: Freeze in sturdy plastic bags (I separate the round rolls in order to re-bake just as many as needed and also so that they bake about the same amount of time as the spiral rolls). When re-baking, take from freezer; place on cookie sheets. Bake at 375 degrees for ten minutes.