The very best indulgent holiday morning treat is a big batch of homemade cinnamon rolls - soft and pillowy, sweet and cinnamony. And Alton Brown has the absolute best recipe for cinnamon rolls. Yes, the dough needs to be made the night before. Trust me, it is worth it. And if you substitute 1 of the tablespoons of milk in the icing for very strong coffee, these cinnamon rolls are pure pefection. However, for this Thanksgiving morning, I wanted something more seasonally themed, so I tried out some Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls. They were lovely and pretty and festive and entirely appropriate for a day dedicated to eating and giving thanks. This recipe is a combination of Alton Brown's instructions and this recipe from Dishing up Delights.
Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
For the dough:
- 1 packet of active yeast
- 1/2 cup of warm water
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon course salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 8 ounces light brown sugar, approximately 1 cup packed
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- Pinch salt
- 3/4-ounce unsalted butter, melted, approximately 1 1/2 tablespoons
- 2 1/2 ounces cream cheese, softened, approximately 1/4 cup
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1 tablespoon strong coffee
- 5 1/2 ounces powdered sugar, approximately 1 1/2 cups
Mix yeast and warm water in a large bowl and allow to sit for 10 minutes. Add in the rest of the dough ingredients and thoroughly combine. Add a little more flour if it needs a more doughy consistency.
Turn dough out on a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl. Transfer the dough to the bowl, lightly oil the top of the dough, cover and let double in volume, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl. Mix until well incorporated. Set aside until ready to use.
Butter a 9 by 9-inch glass baking dish. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Gently shape the dough into a rectangle with the long side nearest you. Roll into a rectangle about 1/4 inch thick. Brush the dough with the 3/4-ounce of melted butter, leaving 1/2-inch border along the top edge. Sprinkle the filling mixture over the dough, leaving a 3/4-inch border along the top edge; gently press the filling into the dough (you might have extra filling depending on how sugary you want these). Beginning with the long edge nearest you, roll the dough into a tight cylinder. Firmly pinch the seam to seal and roll the cylinder seam side down. Very gently squeeze the cylinder to create even thickness. Using a serrated knife, slice the cylinder into 1 1/2-inch rolls; yielding 9 rolls. Arrange rolls cut side down in the baking dish; cover tightly with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator overnight or up to 16 hours.
Remove the rolls from the refrigerator and place in an oven that is turned off. Fill a shallow pan 2/3-full of boiling water and set on the rack below the rolls. Close the oven door and let the rolls rise until they look slightly puffy; approximately 30 minutes. Remove the rolls and the shallow pan of water from the oven.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
When the oven is ready, place the rolls on the middle rack and bake until golden brown, or until the internal temperature reaches 190 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer, approximately 20 minutes.
While the rolls are cooling slightly, make the icing by whisking the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer until creamy. Add the milk and coffee and whisk until combined. Add the powdered sugar, and whisk until smooth. Spread over the rolls and serve immediately with more coffee.