blissful eats with Tina Jeffers: Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls


Fall is one of my favorite seasons in the kitchen.  The air is crisp, the leaves are changing colors and the fall harvest has begun.  Time to hit the pumpkin patch and get baking!  This time of year signals a return to the comforts of home, a hot cup of tea next to a toasty fire and a seasonal inspired treat to enjoy.

These cinnamon rolls are filled with homemade pumpkin butter, cinnamon sugar and hazelnuts.  The dough is a challah bread recipe that I adapted by adding pumpkin puree and millet flour, they give the roll a beautiful golden orange color and slightly savory flavor.  Don’t worry if you can’t find millet flour, you can easily substitute all-purpose flour for the whole recipe.

Don’t be intimidated by the recipe, you do need to plan ahead but most of the time is spent waiting for the dough to rise.  If you want to eat them for breakfast, prep the dough the night before so you can just pop them in the oven first thing in the morning. 

As you’ve probably noticed by now if you’ve looked at any of previous posts I do use hazelnuts a lot in my recipes but feel free to substitute pecans or walnuts in the dough.  I use them not just because they are my favorite but because here in the Willamette Valley we grow 99% of all the hazelnuts in the country and I can buy them from a wonderful local grower.  I try to support my local merchants and farmers whenever I can and I love knowing where the food that I feed my family is coming from. 

If you make your own pumpkin butter you will have some leftover but don’t worry you can use it just like you would your favorite jam.  It is delicious on top of toast, ice cream, yogurt or mixed into oatmeal. 

The cream cheese frosting is totally optional, but if you want to take these over the top it really makes these the ultimate in decadence. 

Pumpkin cinnamon rolls

Makes 13 large cinnamon rolls


For the sponge:

2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast

2/3 cup whole milk

1 tablespoon honey

1 cup pumpkin puree

1 ¼ cup millet flour



3 cups all purpose flour, plus extra for mixing

1 tablespoon kosher salt

3 eggs

4 ounces (1stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature


1 cup pumpkin butter*

1/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup turbinado sugar

1 tablespoon Saigon cinnamon

1/3 cup finely chopped hazelnuts

Cream Cheese Frosting:

4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

1 stick (4 ounces) butter, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1-2 cups powdered sugar 


Pour the yeast into the bowl of a standing mixer.  Heat the milk just until it is warm to the touch, about 100 degrees, and pour it over the yeast.  Add the pumpkin, honey and millet flour and stir to combine.  Add the all-purpose flour to the top of the sticky dough, then the salt.  Do not stir.  Let the sponge sit for 30 minutes until the flour begins to crack. 

Crack the eggs and add them to the sponge.  Mix on low until the flour is incorporated, if the dough is sticking to the sides, add one tablespoon of flour at a time-it may take up to ½ cup until the dough will pull away from the side of the bowl.  Once the dough has come together increase the speed to medium and mix for 10 minutes, the dough should be shiny and smooth.

Add the butter 1 tablespoon at a time and wait to add the next piece until the butter is fully incorporated.  The dough will come apart slightly and then come back together, don’t panic. 

For the first rise, scrape the dough into a buttered bowl, cover with a clean kitchen towel and leave to rise for 2 hours.  Punch dough down and let sit for 10 minutes.  Roll out dough into a square about 10 inches by 16 inches. 

Spread the pumpkin butter all over the surface of the dough. 

Combine the sugars with the cinnamon and evenly distribute on top of the pumpkin then sprinkle the hazelnuts on top.  Starting at the 16-inch length, roll the dough into a tight log.  Cut the log into 13 pieces, each about 1 ¼ inches thick. 

Place the rolls into a buttered 9x13 inch baking dish cover with a clean dish towel and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in bulk. 

Alternatively you can refrigerate the rolls overnight then remove them in the morning, let them come to room temperature and then proceed with the next step.

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.  When the oven comes to temperature bake the rolls for 25-35 minutes until the rolls are puffed and a beautiful golden brown.  

While the rolls are baking, make the cream cheese frosting if using.  Combine the cream cheese and butter in a mixer and blend until smooth, add the vanilla and then gradually add the sugar a little at a time tasting until you are happy with the flavor. 

Let cool slightly and then serve warm or top with cream cheese frosting if desired. 

To make your own pumpkin butter:

1 (28-oz.) can pumpkin puree

1 cup apple juice

2 teaspoons ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

¼ teaspoon cardamom

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 cup light brown sugar

Combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  

Yum6 Comments