Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

Food historians quibble over the origins of the Cinnamon Roll. There is considerable evidence that the Swedish did it first but the Swedish Kanelbulle is very different than the sweet iced rolls consumed in North America.

The cinnamon rolls that we know and love today are really a combination of the Swedish Kanelbulle, German Schnecken , and English Chelsea Buns. It was most likely created by colonists in the mid-1700s.

Kanelbulle are less sweet and have the addition of cardamom in the dough. The filling is made using confectioners sugar, cinnamon, and almond flour sprinkled over butter. The rolls are typically not glazed or frosted but rather sprinkled with pearl sugar.

Schnecken consists of a dough made of sour cream and at least three eggs. There is no butter in this roll. The dough is brushed with whipped egg whites and sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. This creates a tighter bun with layers that are fused together.

Chelsea Buns are a popular tea time treat created with traditional yeast dough brushed with butter and sprinkled with, brown sugar, cinnamon, dried fruits and nuts. After baking the rolls are drizzled with a simple icing made of milk and confections sugar.

Pumpkins are such a nostalgic part of autumn. There is a level of rustic romantisism to the idea of going to the pumpkin patch or making a pumpkin pie. For me it invokes memories of hayrides, the time my parents made the mistake of telling me I could get whatever pumpkin I could carry (boy was that fun to clean out), and the pride of learning to bake and creating a little contribution for the Thanksgiving table.

These Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls have become a must have every autumn. Soft pumpkin rolls full of sweet cinnamon swirls topped with fluffy cream cheese frosting and a hint of maple. Over the years I’ve made quite a few batches of cinnamon rolls, and I’ve learned a few things.

First and foremost, you have to be patient with yeast based baking and allow them the proper time to knead and rise. For tender cinnamon rolls to rise beautifully they need time for the proteins in the dough to develop and trap air bubbles inside.

If you arent sure when dough has risen enough or doubled in bulk there are three tricks that can take the guess work out of it.

  1. Let your dough rise in a oven that was preheated to 200 degrees and then turned off. This removes room temperature as a variable in your dough rising.
  2. Wrap your bowl tightly in cling wrap and use an expo marker to mark the starting size of your dough.
  3. Use the “finger test” Press your finger into the dough. If it does not stay indented then it has not risen long enough yet.

Dough Rising Poke Test

Next, don’t skimp on the butter. This recipe uses half as much butter as most cinnamon roll recipes already and the fats in the butter keep the proteins in the dough from being able to bind together thus, giving you lovely cinnamon sweet layers that you can be peel apart.

The last thing is to measure the cinnamon you put into the roll dough and avoid adding more. A compound in cinnamon can inhibit yeast dough from rising. The recommended teaspoon is a well tested balance that will not effect your dough’s ability to rise.

mixing dough dough ball image image image image image image image image image Rolls image image image image

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Print Recipe
Yield: 12 large rolls
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours
  • Dough
  • 1/4 cup warm water, about 110 degrees
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/3 cup milk, warmed
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree, unpacked
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric, optional
  • 4 cups flour
  • Filling
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves

Warm oven to 200 degrees. Grease a large bowl with olive oil, set aside.

In the bowl of a kitchen aid mixer fitter with the whisk attachment combine yeast and warm water. Let sit for a few minutes, until it begins to thicken.

Add milk, butter, egg, and pumpkin to the yeast mixture. Mix on low until well combined. With mixer on low add sugar, vanilla, and spices. Mix until just incorporated.

Switch to the dough hook attachment. Set the mixer on low and add the flour one cup at a time. Stop between cups to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Once the flour is incorporated set the mixer on low and allow the dough to knead until smooth and elasticity. Be patient, this step is important to get fluffy tender layers of cinnamon roll that you can peel apart. This is a good time to turn the oven off.

Move the dough into the large greased bowl. Cover tightly with cling wrap and mark the current size with an expo marker as shown above. This makes it much easier to tell when the dough has doubled in bulk.

Let the dough rise in the warmed oven until doubled in bulk, about an hour.

In a medium bowl combine your sugars and spices, set aside.

In a small bowl melt your butter, set aside.

Once the dough has doubled in size and passes the finger test turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll it into a 12×22″ rectangle.

Brush the top of the dough generously with melted butter. Sprinkle your sugar mixture evenly across the top. If you want a really gooey center create a little ridge of the sugar mixture along the edge closest to you. This will be your starting point for rolling it up.

Staring at that edge closest to you fold the dough over the cinnamon sugar ridge, brush the top with melted butter, roll the dough tightly away from you. Work slowly along the roll keeping it rolled tightly and brushing with melted butter as needed.

When you reach the end flip the log you have created seam side down. It should be about 24″ long and at this point I usually measure it and stretch the dough as needed.

Using a sharp serrated knife cut the log into 12 2″ rolls.

Place the sliced rolls into a prepared 9×13 pan. Be sure to leave space between the rolls.
Cover the pan of rolls loosely with a damp towel and allow to rise for at least 40 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until lightly golden brown and cooked through. Keep a close eye on them the last 5 minutes to be sure they do not over brown.

While the rolls are baking make the Maple Cream Cheese Frosting.

If these buns wont be eaten all at once store the cinnamon buns at room temperature and the frosting in the refrigerator. This will keep them from drying out and allow you to heat them up as desired.

If you would like to make these the night before simply cover the pan of rolls tightly with cling wrap before letting them rise a second time. Refrigerate them over night and allow them to come to room temperature an hour before you need to bake them.

*The roll dough is adapted from Good Life Eats

Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

Print Recipe
Yield: 3 cups
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
  • 8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 stick salted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 1/2-3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons warm water

Combine all of your ingredients in a large bowl, using a beater cream until smooth adding warm water 1 tablespoon at a time as needed.

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