These Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls have become a must have every autumn. Soft pumpkin rolls full of sweet cinnamon swirls topped with fluffy cream cheese frosting and a hint of maple.
There is a level of rustic nostalgia with pumpkins in autumn and the idea of going to the pumpkin patch or making a pumpkin pie. For me it invokes memories of hayrides, the time my parents made the mistake of telling me I could get whatever pumpkin I could carry and the pride of learning to bake and creating a little contribution for the Thanksgiving table.
If you’re looking for pumpkin treats but a cinnamon bun isn’t your thing checkout this Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread.
History of the Cinnamon Roll
Food historians quibble over the origins of the Cinnamon Roll. There is considerable evidence that the Swedish did it first but the Swedish Kanelbulle is very different than the sweet iced rolls consumed in North America.
The cinnamon rolls that we know and love today are really a combination of the Swedish Kanelbulle, German Schnecken , and English Chelsea Buns. It was most likely created by colonists in the mid-1700s.
Kanelbulle are less sweet and have the addition of cardamom in the dough. The filling is made using confectioners sugar, cinnamon, and almond flour sprinkled over butter. The rolls are typically not glazed or frosted but rather sprinkled with pearl sugar.
Schnecken consists of a dough made of sour cream and at least three eggs. There is no butter in this roll. Instead the dough is brushed with whipped egg whites and sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar to create a tighter bun with layers that are fused together.
Chelsea Buns are a popular tea time treat created using traditional yeast dough brushed with butter and sprinkled with, brown sugar, cinnamon, dried fruits and nuts. After baking the rolls are drizzled with a simple icing made of milk and confections sugar.
Key Ingredients for Cinnamon Rolls
- Pumpkin Purée – Canned or fresh will work perfectly well
- Flour – A nice all purpose flour like King Arthur will make these rolls even better
- Dark Brown Sugar – For a roll like this brown sugar is a more balanced sweetness than typical white sugar
- Butter – These cinnamon rolls are as light on butter as you can go but its critical for getting perfect cinnamon roll layers.
How to make Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
For the Cinnamon Roll:
Begin my preheating your oven to 200 degrees and greasing a large bowl with olive oil.
Use a hand whisk or the whisk attachment of your mixer to combine, yeast and warm water. That will need to sit for a few minutes to thicken before you add milk, butter, egg and pumpkin and mix on low.
Next up add sugar, vanilla spices with the mixer on low.
Switch to a dough hook on your mixer before adding flour. Add flour one cup at a time.
Knead the dough by hand or in the mixer until its smooth and elastic. Tip – Be patient, this step is important to get fluffy tender layers of cinnamon roll that you can peel apart.
Turn off the oven. Move the dough to a greased bowl, cover with cling wrap and then place in the oven to rise until doubled (about an hour).
Once your dough has risen, combine the sugars and spices for the filling and melt some butter.
Roll our dough into roughly a 1 foot by 2 foot rectangle, brush with butter and sprinkle filling evenly across the bun.
The hard part is rolling the bun evenly, but its important to brush the non filling layer with butter as you roll so things peel apart later.
Next is the fun part, slice 2 inch buns an arrange event ply in a 9 by 13 pan, cover with a damp cloth and let those rise for about 40 minutes.
In a preheated 375 degree oven bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown.
For the Frosting:
The frosting is pretty simple, combine all the frosting ingredients and beat until creamy and smooth. You might have to add a little water if things are a little dry.
Tips for Making Cinnamon Rolls
Over the years I’ve made quite a few batches of cinnamon rolls, and I’ve learned a few things.
First, you have to be patient with yeast based baking and allow them the time to knead and rise.
To get perfect cinnamon rolls, they need time for the proteins in the dough to develop and trap air bubbles.
Three tricks will take the guess work out of knowing if your dough has risen enough.
- Letting dough rise in a warm, turned off, oven removes room temperature as a variable in your dough rising.
- Wrap your bowl tightly in cling wrap and use an expo marker to mark the starting size of your dough.
- Use the “finger test” Press your finger into the dough. If it does not stay indented then it has not risen long enough yet.
Never skimp on butter. This recipe uses half as much butter as most cinnamon roll recipes so its important to follow the recipe. The fats in the butter keep the dough from binding together, which is important for peelable cinnamon layers.
The last thing is to measure the cinnamon you put into the roll dough and avoid adding more. A compound in cinnamon can inhibit yeast dough from rising. I’ve recommended a teaspoon to avoid impacting the dough’s rise.