Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Pumpkin Brown Butter Apple Cinnamon Rolls with Maple Glaze

Boy, that's a mouth full to say, isn't it?

But with so many delicious Fall flavors out there, it was really hard to limit myself!

I've been wanting to try a pumpkin-dough cinnamon roll for a while, actually. And my first thought was to use the same pumpkin dough that I'd used last year to make this delicious pumpkin pull-apart bread. But when I went to Willow Bird Baking, the awesome site where I'd found that recipe in the first place, my plans changed. Just a little.

Turns out, Julie (the awesome baker behind Willow Bird) is hosting some weekly challenges (FUN!), and that her first challenge, going on this week, is to make cinnamon rolls! But not just plain old cinnamon rolls - she challenged everyone to get innovative and create our very own kind of cinnamon rolls.  The only requirement that she gave was to use a dough recipe that she provided (here).

Perfect timing, right? Well, almost. I still wanted pumpkin. For the dough.  No problem, I simple modified her given recipe (with high hopes that it would work...) and proceeded with my original thought.  The dough is prepared the night before and refrigerated, so I don't have pictures of that process (I made it by hand in a dark kitchen - no light + messy hands = no photos), but the next day I did the fun part - the filling.

I didn't use any found recipe for my filling, rather winged it.  I started by browning two sticks (one cup) of butter.

Love that nutty smell and flavor!

Next, I chopped three (HUGE!) apples and tossed them into the browned butter, along with 3/4 of a cup of light brown sugar and a teaspoon of cinnamon.

Once the apples softened a little bit (not totally - I still wanted them to have a bit of bite, since they'd cook further when the rolls baked) and the syrup was, well, nice and syrup-y. I set that aside to cool and pulled the pumkin-ified dough out of the fridge. (I'm allowed to create words, right??)

The dough recipe makes enough to make two pans of rolls, so I divided the dough in two, rolled each half into a huge rectangle, and topped each with half of the filling.

The filling was a little thinner than I'd intended. Which made rolling it up tough and cutting them...

...a little messy.

Not one to waste brown-buttery-syrupy goodness, I scooped up the extra sauce and spooned it over my cut rolls.

Then it was time to let them proof. The rose beautifully.

And baked up even more beautifully.

And to top them off, I chose to make the maple glaze that I'd used on these other rolls.

As I said, this recipe makes two pans of cinnamon rolls. That's 24 buns. That's a LOT of sweetness. So I brought a couple over to my neighbor (who just had a baby! hooray!!), all packaged up...

And then we dug in!!

Oh my gosh, these are so good. I'll admit that I was hesitant about the dough - it is not a traditional sweet yeast dough - it actually comes together more like a biscuit dough, but with yeast added into it... but it WORKED. Sweet dough goodness with biscuit flakiness - I am a doubter no more. And the pumpkin, apple, brown butter and maple made for a perfect taste of Fall.

Pumpkin Brown Butter Apple Cinnamon Rolls with Maple Glaze

Roll Ingredients:
(slightly adapted from Willow Bird Baking)

1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (100-110 degrees F)
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 1/4 cups milk minus 1 tablespoons, room temperature
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
2/3 cup cold shortening (I use butter)
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
5 cups flour

Filling Ingredients:
(my own design)

3 large apples (or more, if they are smaller), chopped into small pieces
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, browned
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Glaze Ingredients:
(based on Joy the Baker)

2 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoon maple syrup
4-12 tablespoons milk (I needed more than I expected!)

Mix the warm water and yeast in a medium bowl and let the yeast foam, about 10 minutes. Put  tablespoons white vinegar in a 2-cup measuring cup and then add milk up to the 1 1/4 cup line. Set this aside. In a separate large bowl (or the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook), whisk together flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, and baking powder and cut the shortening into the mixture with two knives or a pastry cutter until the shortening looks like small peas. Stir yeast mixture, pumpkin puree and milk mixture into the dry ingredients and mix well, kneading just a few turns. Transfer the dough to a bowl lightly sprayed with cooking spray, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and store in refrigerator overnight.

The next morning, prepare your filling. In a medium saucepan, brown your butter, then allow it to cool a bit. Toss apples, light brown sugar and cinnamon into the same pot and cook over medium-medium high heat until the apples are well coated, the liquid is syurpy and the apples have begun to tenderize. Set this aside to cool.

When you are ready to prepare the buns, lightly spray two 9" x 13" baking pans with nonstick cooking spray and turn the chilled dough out onto a floured surface. Roll the into a large rectangle about 1/8-inch thick (I carefully cut the dough in half and worked with half at a time to make it more manageable; if you do this, just spread on half of the filling ingredients for each half you roll). Top the rolled-out dough with the filling (again, half the dough, half the filling if you divide the dough, which I recommend...) and spread the filling to about a half inch of the edges. Gently roll the dough up into a spiral and cut it into rolls, placing them close together in your prepared baking dishes (12 buns per pan).

Cover the rolls with a clean dish cloth or some plastic wrap and let them rise in a warm spot until they’ve nearly doubled, about 1 1/2 – 2 hours. About half an hour before baking, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bake the buns for about 15-20 minutes or until browned on top (if you take them out at just lightly golden brown, they may still be doughy in the center).

Whisk together the glaze ingredients (adding additional milk to get it to your desired drizzling consistency) and drizzle the glaze over the warm rolls.

Serve immediately.



  1. Oh mama. These cinnamon rolls scream fall decadence! All of the flavors you have packed in here are truly amazing, I really wish I could try a bite!!! Ok, ok, I'll take two.

  2. These are phenomenal, Shelley. I think I saw Julie's version pinned over and over. These definitely need a pin (do I even blog anymore? Barely..I just pin lol). Now I'm going to be dreaming about these all day! By the way..I like what you wrote in your yummy balsamic cole slaw post about the food blogosphere community. Perfectly described :) Miss you and Jenni!

  3. Those look delicious! Thanks for sharing at Iron Chef Mom: Cinnamon this week. Good luck!


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