October wouldn’t be complete without a pumpkin recipe! And fall wouldn’t be complete without diving face first into delicious baked treats. Enter: Pumpkin Challah Cinnamon Rolls. They’re subtly sweet, rolled with spices and raisins, baked until golden and finally drizzled with a simple icing.
When I began testing this recipe I initially wanted to make a rolled loaf of pumpkin challah for morning toast. But I was quickly overcome with a craving for cinnamon buns. One thing led to another and poof, we had pumpkin challah cinnamon rolls.
These rolls are less indulgent than more traditional sticky buns. They’re made with a challah inspired dough, which is made with eggs, oil, yeast and a little sugar for a hint of sweetness. While challah is typically braided we’re instead rolling the dough to make individual buns. Speaking of rolling, make sure you roll the log of dough as tightly as you can when it comes time. This will make it easier when cutting the “dough log” and transferring the individual rolls to your pan.
An interesting tip that I learned in the process of testing this recipe is to not add cinnamon to the dough as it will significantly decrease the rise. It turns out that since cinnamon is an anti-microbial it hinders the fermentation process. Science! Alternatively, ginger can enhance fermentation. So, you will notice in the recipe that there is ground ginger in the dough, while cinnamon is only in the filling. And now you know why! To spice things up a bit more, the filling also has cardamom, ginger, nutmeg, and orange zest.
If you’re like my husband and don’t love raisins, you can substitute other preferred dried fruit like cranberries, cherries or figs. As well, you can get creative with the icing and make something a little fancier! As I mentioned I initially thought I was going to make a cinnamon raisin challah loaf, so I have included those instructions in the recipe notes as well. The loaf makes fantastic French toast too. Just sayin’!
I hope you start one of your autumn weekend days with a bit of work early in the day to make this recipe (most of the time required to make this recipe is just waiting for it to rise, so you’ll have lots of time to do other things while that’s going on). You’ll be rewarded with a sweet treat for later in the day. Nothing better than enjoying a warm cinnamon bun curled up with a blanket and a hot cup of tea. You won’t regret it.
Ciao for now,
- ½ cup (125 ml) warm water
- ¾ cup (175 ml) pumpkin puree
- 3 large eggs, lightly beaten (room temperature)
- 3 tbsp (45 ml) light brown sugar
- 3 tbsp (45 ml) neutral oil, (i.e., grape seed, canola)
- 2 tsp (10 ml) salt
- 1 tsp (5 ml) ground ginger
- 1 tbsp (15 ml) instant yeast
- 4¾ cup (620 gr) unbleached all-purpose flour
- ½ cup (125 ml) raisins
- ¾ cup (175 ml) brown sugar
- Zest of one orange, finely grated
- 2 tsp. (10 ml) cinnamon
- ½ tsp. (2.5 ml) cardamom
- ½ tsp (2.5 ml) ginger
- ½ tsp (2.5 ml) ground nutmeg
- 4 tbsp (60 ml) butter, melted
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine water, pumpkin puree, eggs, brown sugar, oil, salt, and ginger. Add instant yeast. Mix on low speed with the paddle attachment until combined.
- Slowly add the flour, continuing to mix on low speed until the flour is fully incorporated into the dough. At this point, change to the dough hook and continue mixing on medium speed until dough is smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.
- Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl and let rise in a warm place for about 45 – 60 minutes, until doubled in size.
- While the dough is rising, make the filling. Soak raisins in hot water for 10 minutes. Drain and set aside. While raisins are soaking, combine brown sugar, orange zest, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and nutmeg in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- When dough has risen, gently deflate and divide into two equal pieces.
- On a lightly oiled surface, roll each half into a rectangle that’s roughly 8” x 18” (20 cm by 45 cm).
- Brush dough rectangles with melted butter. Sprinkle each with half the prepared filling mixture and raisins. Using a rolling pin, lightly roll the dough to slightly press the raisins into the dough. Starting at the wide end, roll the dough, quite tightly, all the way to the end to form a log. Pinch the seam edges together. Slice rolls evenly into 8 to 10 pieces. Place in two buttered round dishes (about 10” in diameter), or two 9” square metal pans. Brush tops with butter. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm place to rise until the rolls come together and are slightly puffed, about 1 hour.
- While the rolls are rising, preheat oven to 350℉ (175℃).
- After the second rise, bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the rolls are slightly brown. If you have a food thermometer, the rolls are baked when an internal temperature of 188℉ (85℃) is reached. Remove from oven and let cool on wire rack.
- If desired you can make a simple glaze by combining 1 cup (250 ml) sifted icing sugar with 1-2 tbsp (15-30 ml) liquid (water, milk, or orange juice). Whisk until combined, adding just enough liquid so you can drizzle the rolls.
- Special Equipment: I used a stand mixer to make the dough, but you can make the dough by hand, or use a bread machine, following the manufacturer’s general instructions.
- Make ahead and timing: These are great right out of the oven. However, they will keep in a sealed bag, on the counter, for a couple of days, or in the freezer for up to one month.
- Variations and Substitutions: Another option for this dough is to make two loaves (or one loaf and one pan of rolls). To make loaves, after first rise, divide dough into two pieces. Roll each loaf into an 8” x 12” (20 cm x 30 cm) rectangle. Brush each piece with butter, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and raisins. Starting at the narrow end roll all the way to the end. Seal the seam by pinching. Pinch the ends and tuck underneath. Place seam side down in two 8 ½” x 4 ½” (22cm x 12 cm) loaf pans. Let rise for about 1 hour. Bake at 350 ℉ (175℃) for about 30 to 40 minutes, until browned. If you have a thermometer, the bread is done when an internal temperature of 188 ℉ (85 ℃) is reached. Let cool on wire racks for 10 minutes. Remove loaves from pan and let cool completely before cutting.
- Dietary Considerations: Vegetarian, Dairy -Free