These rolls are phenomenal. I mean so, so good. Soft, pillowy goodness with just a hint of pumpkin flavor. Just a hint, mind you. My boys both looked at them with no small amount of suspicion–they are, after all, a bit orange. I made them take a bite before they were told that they were pumpkin. Let’s just say they have eaten their fair share.
They are a savory roll, not sweet. A perfect accompaniment to dinner, be it Thanksgiving, a pot of soup, or just your perfect ham dinner. In fact, that’s what I made them with and the next day, I made a leftover ham sandwich on these little fellas—oh, good heavens. That’s really all I can say about that.
I know you might look at this recipe and think it is too complicated to be worth it, but I assure you, it just isn’t. I will talk you through it and you can try it and you will feel like you performed a bit of homemade magic.
I so understand the intimidation that making yeast bread provides. i used to think it was mysterious and complicated and too overwhelming. But then I made my first sad loaf and despite its misshapen form, it was bread and it smelled like a little bit of heaven–and I knew what went in it.
Now, years and hundreds of loaves of homemade breads later, it is still one of my very favorite things in the whole wide world. And, I’m here to help.
Here’s what you do. Measure out 1 1/2 c. warm water (technically it’s 110-115 degrees, but to the touch it’s just between warm and hot). Add 2 tsp. active dry yeast to the warm water, give it a little stir and let it just sit there for several minutes. It should dissolve and look a little foamy.
While the yeast is dissolving, in a bowl (I use my mixer bowl) combine 1 1/4 c. pumpkin puree,
1/2 c. very soft butter,
1/3 c. sugar,
2 tsp. salt,
and 2 1/2 c. whole wheat flour.
Now add in your yeast water and beat until smooth.
At this point, you will add in unbleached flour and the amount will vary anywhere from 4 1/2 c. to 5 1/2 c. You are adding enough flour to make what’s called a soft dough. I use my mixer with my dough hook and I know the amount of flour is right when the dough pulls away from the edges of the bowl to make a sticky ball. If you are kneading by hand, you want it to come together without shaggy pieces and be mostly smooth but stop adding flour when it still sticks to your fingers a bit. Not like goop, like barely sticky dough.
I added around 5 cups of flour, one cup at a time, and let it mix with the dough hook for about 4-5 minutes. If you’re kneading by hand, knead for 6-8 minutes. Here’s a great tutorial on kneading.
Take your ball o’ kneaded dough, and place it in a buttered bowl, and turn it around to grease the dough. Cover it with a clean dishtowel, and let it sit in a warm place to let it rise for at least an hour or until it has doubled in size.
After an hour, push all the air out of the dough and divide it into four portions. On a very clean, lightly floured surface, roll each dough section into a circle and then use a pizza cutter or a knife to cut each circle into 8-12 pie-like wedges. Now, just like you roll those crescent rolls from a can, starting at the wider end, roll each wedge up and place them pointed side down 2 inches apart onto a baking sheet. Curve the ends to form that crescent shape you love.
Cover your pans and place in a warm spot and let it rise again for another 30 minutes.
Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for around 12-15 minutes (they will have beautiful golden edges) and remove to wire racks to cool.
This recipe will yield 3-4 dozen rolls depending on how you cut them.
It’s really just a few steps, friends. Just a few steps to homemade yumminess that you just can’t replicate from any can. Just try it and see what I mean.
Many thanks to Connie Thomas and her recipe contribution to Taste of Home for the original recipe.
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