Luscious Pumpkin Orange Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon rolls are so indulgent and crazy good. I rarely make them because of that. I promise myself I'll only eat one and then I talk myself into another and end up needing an immediate siesta. Sugar crash.
But with the holidays rolling around and pumpkin season in full effect, 
I figured...why the heck not? I love working with yeasted doughs and this one is fun to make and the rolls come out beautifully.
This time I only ate one and a half, gave a few to the hubs, and took the rest to work. Yay.

I've made cinnamon rolls many times over the years, but never one with pumpkin. The pumpkin taste is subtle and the color of the dough is so pretty. And the orange zest just takes it to another level.

I love baking in the morning, when all the lovely light pours in through my kitchen window. From measuring and mixing to rolling out the door, it feels like therapy to me. Baking is no doubt in my blood and makes me incredibly happy.
And, always the multi-tasker, here's my breakfast bowl that I made along the way. It's "Chattahoochee cereal" from Nora Mill Granary in the foothills of N. Georgia, with apples, brown sugar, and toasted almonds. So good.

And here, they are. Warm, gooey, pumpkin goodness. Thanksgiving morning anyone?
Pumpkin Orange Cinnamon Rolls
Makes 14

For the dough:
1 package active dry yeast {2 ¼ teaspoons}
1/2 cup warm water {105 and 110°F}
1/2 cup whole milk, scalded and cooled to lukewarm
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1½ teaspoons orange zest
1 egg, room temperature
3½ - 4 cups all-purpose flour {plus more for rolling}
1 teaspoon sea salt

For the filling:
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1½ Tablespoons ground cinnamon

For the frosting:
1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Make dough:
Activate your yeast, by dissolving it in the ½ cup of warm water in a small bowl with a good pinch or two of sugar. Let it sit for at least 5 minutes or until bubbly and foamy. If it doesn’t change in appearance, your yeast may have been old or perhaps your water temperature was too cold or too hot. Start over. While yeast activates, scald your milk in a pot and set it aside to cool to lukewarm.

Pour yeast mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment {make sure to get all the little bits at the bottom scraped in there}. Add milk, sugar, softened butter, pumpkin puree, orange zest and egg. Mix until gently combined.

Place 3 ½ cups of the flour onto a piece of parchment paper and gently mix in your salt {you don’t want to place the salt directly onto top of your yeast…they won’t make nice}. With mixer running on low speed, add 1/2 cup of the dry ingredients at a time, until you get a smooth and just slightly sticky dough. Use the extra ½ cup of flour as needed.

Turn out your dough onto a lightly floured board or counter surface and knead for about 2 minutes. Round off your dough between your hands and place into a greased bowl {bowl size should be large enough to allow dough to almost double in size}. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm place to rise for about 1 hour.

To check if your dough has risen enough, do the “finger poke” test. Stick your finger into the dough about ½ inch. You should see an indentation that stays partially formed and springs back very slowly. If it springs right back filling the indentation, it hasn’t risen enough and you need to go a bit longer.

Roll it out and fill:
Mix together your brown sugar and cinnamon and set aside.

Sprinkle some flour across your board or counter surface and pat your dough down into a rectangular shape. Sprinkle some flour on top of the dough and roll it out into a 14x16 rectangle.

Using an off-set spatula, spread butter evenly across the dough and follow with the brown sugar mixture, leaving about a ½ inch border.

Begin rolling the dough away from you, keeping the dough as tightly rolled as possible. Once it’s rolled up, pinch the seams together to ensure that the filling stays inside and the rolls don’t fall apart. Using a serrated knife, slice off the ends first. Then slice the log 14 rolls, about 1¼ inches each.

Place the rolls into a greased 9 x13 baking pan and cover with plastic wrap. Place in a draft free warm area and allow the rolls to rise for about 40-50 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°F and bake the rolls for 25-30 minutes, until they’re golden brown.

Take the pumpkin cinnamon rolls out of the oven and let cool about 10 minutes. Then frost as generously as you like with the cream cheese frosting. Oh yum.


Place your cream cheese and butter into a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix together well, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl once or twice.

Sift your powdered sugar with your cinnamon onto a piece of parchment paper. Slowly add in the powdered sugar on low speed and add vanilla. Once Increase to medium speed and beat until the mixture is well combined and smooth. Again, scrape down sides and bottom of the bowl once or twice.
Spread on top of pumpkin rolls and serve to your favorite peeps.


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