Pumpkin Cream Cheese Cinnamon Rolls

Kudos to the bakers over at Food52 for crafting this delicious recipe. I made these on Christmas morning, and though they take a fair amount of time to create and more than enough calories, the flavors make for a celebration. Plus, did you notice they use pumpkin? My pursuit to teach the world that pumpkin is more than a fall food continues.

I learned a couple things that will make my next batch even better:

  • Adjust the oven down 25 degrees for a glass pan.
  • Measure the icing ingredients.
  • Clementine zest and juice are not culinary equivalents to orange zest and juice.
  • Despite my insistence that it didn’t matter, sifting powdered sugar is actually important.
  • This recipe makes two pans of rolls.

INGREDIENTS

Post cutting and ready to rise for a second time!

Dough
2 TBS tablespoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup milk, warmed but not boiling
4 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 TBS salt
4 TBS butter softened
3 eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup cream cheese

Filling
1 cup  brown sugar
1/2 cup  butter
2 TBS ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp orange zest

Icing
1/2 cup cream cheese
1 cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted
3 TBS orange juice — measure this, trust me

DIRECTIONS
1. Combine the yeast and the warm milk and let sit until foamy, about 5 minutes.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook combine the flour, sugar, spices and salt. Add in the eggs, pumpkin puree, and yeast mixture. Mix until just combined, then add the butter. Mix the dough until well combined, then knead the dough for 5 minutes until smooth and elastic. The dough will stick to the bottom of the bowl, but resist the temptation to add more flour.

3. Transfer the dough to a clean, oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise until doubled in volume, 1-½ hours at a warm room temperature.

4. When the dough is almost finished rising, prepare the filling by browning the butter in a skillet until it is golden and toasty. Let the butter cool slightly then combine it with the brown sugar, cinnamon and orange zest. Prepare two, 8 or 9-inch baking pans by buttering or oiling them generously.

5. After the dough has risen, transfer it to a well floured surface and pat the dough into a 12-inch square. Break up the cream cheese and gently spread it on top of the dough, being careful not to tear the dough. Fold the dough into thirds, starting from the bottom so the cream cheese is completely sealed inside of the dough. Then roll the dough into a roughly 16-inch by 20-inch rectangle with the long side facing you, dust off any excess flour with a pastry brush.

6. Sprinkle the filling evenly over the top. Starting from the bottom, gently roll the dough into a log. Use a serrated knife and use very, very gentle and even pressure to cut the log into generous 1-inch slices. Gently place the cut rolls into the prepared pans, cover and let rise until almost doubled in size, 1-1 ½ hours. TIP: If you’d like to freeze some rolls to bake off at a later date, now is a good time to do it. Wrap the pan in 2 layers of plastic wrap and a layer of foil and freeze. To bake, let the frozen rolls come to room temperature and complete their final rise before baking.

7. Twenty minutes before you are ready to bake the rolls preheat your oven to 350º. Bake the rolls until they are cooked through and lightly golden, 20-25 minutes. NOTE: If you’re using a glass pan, adjust the oven to 325º and watch carefully, as glass transfers more heat and will take longer to cool down once out of the oven.

8. While they are baking, prepare the glaze by whisking the cream cheese, powdered sugar, orange juice, and a tiny pinch of salt together until smooth. It won’t be smooth if you don’t sift the sugar. I know, it’s an extra step but worth it! Let the rolls cool for about 5 minutes before glazing and digging in. Be judicious with the glaze, a little goes a long way.

These were good, and can be even better. I’ll try out the wisdom gained on batch #2, which is chilling in the freezer until a special occasion arises.

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