I think it’s funny that we only use pumpkin in the fall. It’s like a nod to the original settlers who could only eat pumpkin when they harvested it in the autumn months. The thing is, people, we can find perfectly wonderful canned pumpkin every single day of the year at our local grocery store! Not only should we find it, we should buy it and bake with it! It seems like before the first leaves turn we get hit with a deluge of pumpkin bread/muffin/cake/pie recipes (have you looked at Pinterest lately? Geesh), and I’m happy to say I am going to jump on that (healthy, delicious, seasonal) bandwagon.
Not only is pumpkin tasty, but it makes baked goods moist without the addition of unwanted fat and calories. For instance, I’ve made several recipes for cinnamon rolls in that past, and sweet, yeasty dough ALWAYS contains at least 6 tablespoons of butter. Here we have just 1 tbsp. of veggie oil (so we reduce the saturated fat by a LOT). The dough itself is still crazy moist and flavorful. Next, cinnamon roll filling is usually another 4 tablespoons of butter, but here we reduce that to just two, using more pumpkin. Pumpkin, like most orange and yellow fruits and veggies, contains a wonderful amount of vitamin A. Vitamin A can help boost your immune system – perfect for these annoyingly fluctuating temperatures that seem to spur on colds.
Now I’m not saying that this is “health food”, it’s just a MUCH lighter, perfectly seasonal comfort food for your next girls’ brunch. Tip – make them the night before, letting them rise in the fridge overnight. Since you’ll use almost an entire 14 oz. can of pumpkin (ps, make sure you get plain pumpkin, not “pumpkin pie filling” which contains a silly amount of sugar), you won’t have that half a can of pumpkin collecting green mold in your fridge. In fact, you should be left with just about 1/4 cup of pumpkin. If you are a smoothie type of person or want to trick your kid into eating healthy food, puree the pumpkin with a frozen banana, cinnamon, plain or vanilla yogurt, and milk (unsweetened vanilla almond milk do it). I’ll even stir extra pumpkin into cottage cheese or Greek yogurt with cinnamon and a Truvia packet. Yum.
Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Glaze
Makes 12 Rolls
1 c. warm water
1 tbsp. sugar
1 packet active dry yeast (or 2 1/4 tsp)
3 3/4 c. flour, plus 1/4 c.
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 c. plain, canned pumpkin puree
1 tbsp. vegetable or canola oil
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
2 tbsp. butter, melted
1/2 c. plain, canned, pumpkin puree
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
8 oz. light cream cheese, softened
2 tbsp. milk
2 tbsp. light corn syrup
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar, whisked well to remove lumps
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1. Combine water, sugar and yeast and let sit for 10 minutes or until bubbly.
2. In the bowl of a standing mixer (or in a large mixing bowl), whisk the 3 3/4 c. flour with the salt and pumpkin pie spice.
3. Add the yeast mixture, the pumpkin, and the oil and stir until just combined.
4. If using electric mixer, attach dough hook and knead dough, adding remaining 1/4 c. flour as needed until dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. If using hands, dump dough onto floured counter and knead with hands (adding remaining 1/4 c. flour as needed for hands not to stick) about 10 minutes or until tacky and elastic.
5. Spray a large bowl with nonstick spray and add dough, turning to grease all sides. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour or until doubled in size. I put my oven on to preheat for several minutes, then turn it off. This is a warm, draft free spot for the dough to rise. Just don’t forget to turn it OFF!
6. Uncover dough, punch down (literally punch it down with your knuckles to release air bubbles), recover and let sit for five minutes. Meanwhile, lightly flour a counter top and mix filling ingredients.
7. Dump dough onto counter and roll to a 20 x 12 inch rectangle.
8. Spread filling evenly across surface.
9. Roll tightly starting at a short end. Pinch seam and ends and pat log to reshape, making it as even as possible.
10. Using a very sharp serrated knife, slice the log into 12 pieces. If you have thread or unflavored dental floss, this is the best way. Cut a 12 in. piece of thread and slide it under the dough (I work in sections – cut log in half, then fourths. Cut each fourth into three pieces). Bring up the two edges of thread, crisscross them and pull, cut through the dough.
11. Grease a 9×12 baking dish with nonstick spray and place rolls inside, cut side up and evenly spaced.
12. Cover tightly and let rise 30 minutes (in a warm, draft free spot) or overnight in the fridge.
13. Preheat oven to 375. Bake rolls, uncovered, for 30-33 minutes or until golden. Cool five minutes on wire rack.
14. Meanwhile, add all glaze ingredients to a mixing bowl and beat with electric mixer until smooth. Refrigerate until needed.
15. Invert rolls onto wire rack then set right side up onto serving platter. Spread with glaze (top AND sides). Slice and serve. If inverting the rolls scares you, frost in the dish and serve them that way! Tastes the same either way.