These dinner rolls are shaped like mini pumpkins and flavored with pumpkin puree and warm spices. This easy to make recipe is a flavorful addition to the fall dinner table.
Fall is the season when the pace of indoor cooking begins to pick up in our kitchen. Nothing like the warm aroma of spices wafting in the air to take the edge of the cooling weather. These rolls are perfect for that, the fact that these are delicious is just icing on the cake.
There is a little pumpkin puree added to the dough. It adds moisture and color without making the rolls taste like pumpkin. These rolls are shaped like mini pumpkins too. Getting that even pumpkin look is easier than you think as you will see in the video. Some of the rolls look a bit more funky – and there is a reason for that – scroll down to shaping to find out why.
What goes into the pumpkin dinner rolls
The recipe for pumpkin dinner rolls is very similar to that of a standard dinner roll. You can take your favorite dinner roll recipe and tweak it to make it. You can even add the pumpkin puree to my no Knead dinner roll recipe (add a few tablespoons more flour) as well.
There is flour, salt, milk, sugar, egg, butter, and yeast as in the basic dinner roll recipe. The additional ingredients are the pumpkin puree and spices. More on each of the ingredients below.
The quality of flour often determines how well your bread rises in the oven. Often I make bread with all-purpose flour, as the varieties that are available to me, all have good protein content (about 12%). Flour marketed as bread flour usually contains at least 12% protein. The higher protein content makes the bread rise more in the oven. Either of these options will work in this recipe. Whichever you pick try to get unbleached and bromate-free flour, preferably organic.
Salt is an important ingredient in bread making. It is not just there for taste but for texture as well. In general, 2% by weight of the flour is the amount of salt needed in the recipe. You can reduce it to 1% for low sodium diets, but leaving it out might cause the bread t turn out to be too dense.
I love fine sea salt and that is what I use in bread. This salt can be added straight to the flour as it dissolves and mixes well while kneading. If you are using specialty salts be aware that the same amount may not provide the required sodium content.
Milk is the liquid of choice in this recipe. Dairy improves the texture of the rolls. Use whole milk or low fat. In a pinch, you can substitute water, or dairy substitutes like almond or cashew milk.
The recipe calls for 2 tbsp of sugar. You can add it all while activating the yeast or divide and mix some in with the flour while kneading. 2 other ingredients – pumpkin puree and milk are also lightly sweet. So there is no need to add more sure to the recipe.
I use brown sugar as I like the light color it brings to the dough. You can use regular sugar or honey as well.
If I make these in the fall it will be with pumpkin puree made from roasting fresh pie pumpkins. Roasting and pureeing pie pumpkin is easy and tastes much better than the canned versions. Check out this recipe for roasting pumpkins. You can also steam the pumpkins instead of roasting.
I use ½ C puree for 1 quantity of this recipe. This makes the rolls bright with a very light pumpkin flavor. You can of course increase the quantity of pumpkin to 1 C for deeper flavors. But I have found that adding more pumpkin makes the rolls dense and chewy.
Need More Pumpkin Recipes
Use pumpkin pie spices or a mix of warm spices as given in the recipe. I prefer the spice mix as each brand of pumpkin pie spice is a little different. Moreover in winter it is good to have these warm spices on hand – there are so many different ways you can use each of these.
The recipe calls for 2 eggs, 1 to make the dough and the other for the egg wash. If you are doubling the recipe, there is no need to double the egg wash. One batch of egg wash is enough to coat 2 batches of the recipe.
Looking for an egg-free version? Just leave the egg out rather than trying to use an egg substitute. Try to use bread flour and whole milk in this case. You will have to add a little more milk to the recipe as well.
Making the dough
The process of making the dough is simple. Activate the yeast (if using instant yeast just skip this step) and add it to the flour along with the other ingredients and knead to get a soft dough.
If you watch the video you will notice that I start to mix the ingredients in the mixer and finish kneading by hand. The dough is a bit tacky and softer than usual and it is less troublesome to knead in the mixer.
Once the dough is ready, let it rise till doubled. This takes a little more than an hour at room temperature (around 72 ℉/ 22℃). Remember ambient temperature plays a big role here, the colder temperature reduces the yeast activity while warmer temperatures do the opposite. In general, dough that rises slowly has had more time to develop flavors.
At any rate, the idea is for the dough to rise until it is doubled in size
After the dough has doubled in bulk, punch it down and divide it into individual dinner roll portions.
This is the time for shaping. You can divide the dough and roll each portion into balls and leave it at that. But for a fancier version just take a pair of kitchen scissors and snip the dough evenly around (refer to the video).
There is another way to shape it as well – wrap 4 pieces of kitchen twain around the dough ball leaving tying and tucking in the ends at the bottom. This is my preferred method when I want a large sourdough loaf to resemble a pumpkin. Using the string to shape needs more skill (not my forte) especially with smaller loaves. But this method will give you more organic gourd looking results.
So it is your choice – use the kitchen scissors for a uniform look, or the twain for a funky look.
Once shaped, let it rise till almost doubled. Brush the tops with egg-wash, poke a hole in the center for the stem and bake in the preheated oven for around 20 minutes.
As I mentioned above how fast the dough rises depends on the ambient temperature. This means you can refrigerate the dough after kneading. Just make sure that the container or the Ziploc that you are storing it in is airtight and there is ample room for the dough to expand. The dough can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours like this.
When refrigerating, take the dough out before baking and let it come to room temperature. Once it has reached room temperature or no longer cold proceed with the rest of the process.
Freezing the dough is also an option. To do this divide and shape into balls and freeze immediately in tightly wrapped freezer-safe bags. Before baking remove the rolls from the freezer, defrost, let rise, and follow the recipe instructions.
Pumpkin Dinner Rolls
- 2 ¼ Tsp Active dry yeast 1 pkt / 7g
- 1 C Milk
- 2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
- 4 C All Purpose/Bread Flour (Add more for dusting) 500g
- ½ C Pumpkin Puree
- 1 Egg
- 2 Tbsp Butter, Melted
- 1 3/4 Tsp Fine sea salt 10g
- 11/2 Tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice OR
- ½ Tsp Dry Ginger
- ½ Tsp Cinnamon
- ¼ Tsp Nutmeg
- ¼ Tsp Cloves
- 1 Egg
- 1 Tbsp Water
Few Pecan Halves / Sunflower or Pumpkin Seeds for stem
Activate the yeast
- Warm the milk to about 105℉ or just warm to touch. Mix the sugar with the milk thoroughly and sprinkle the yeast on top. Set it aside for 5 to 10 minutes until the yeast blooms and the mixture turns frothy.
Make the dough
- Take the flour in a bowl and mix in the salt and spices. Make a well in the center of the flour mix and add the activated yeast, pumpkin puree, egg, melted butter, and most of the remaining milk. Use a fork or spoon to mix the liquid ingredients together. Mix and knead for 3 to 4 minutes if using a mixer or knead about 10 -12 minutes by hand.
- This a wet dough so it sticks to the bowl and kneading surfaces. To prevent liberally dust the surfaces with flour. Whether using the mixer or not finish kneading by hand. Form into a smooth ball and place in an oiled bowl. Cover and let it rise in a warm place until doubled (1 to 1.5 hours).
- Punch down the dough. Place it on a floured surface and knead a few times. Form into a log and divide it into 12 pieces (see video). Roll each piece into a smooth ball. Slightly flatten the ball and make 8 evenly spaced snips from the outside. Do not cut into the center.
- Shape with string
- Take 2 pieces of string each about 16 inches long. Make a plus sign with then with each string meeting at the halfway point. Take one ball of dough and place on the string centering on the midpoint. Let the smooth side of the dough be facing up. Brings the string ends up and cross at the center and carry over to the bottom dicing each quarter in half (see pic). This creates 8 equal sections. Tie or twist the string ends together at the bottom of the dough. Just let the strings lay on the surface of the dough, do not pull it tight and cut into the dough.
- Arrange the balls on the baking sheet. Cover and let rise until almost doubled. At this point, the rolls have visible become bigger and you can see the final shape beginning to emerge. About 20 to 30 minutes(Note).
- Preheat the oven to 350℉ (175℃). Beat the egg with water to make an egg wash. Make an indentation at the center of the rolls. Coat the rolls with egg wash and bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack. Let cool for a few minutes before placing the stem on the premade holes.
Important: Values are only estimates. Actuals vary depending on ingredients and serving size.