A light adaptation of Julia Turshen's breakfast sweet rolls. This fall variation is filled with homemade pumpkin butter and topped with sweet and tart creme fraiche frosting! For a plethora of flavor variation ideas, see the recipe notes below.
Homemade Pumpkin Butter
1(15-ounce) canpure pumpkin puree
½cup (120 mL)apple cider or juice
½cup (100 g)granulated sugar
2tablespoons (30 mL)pure maple syrup
Pumpkin Butter Rolls:
¾cup (180 mL)whole milk
2¼teaspoonsactive dry yeast
3¼cups (390 g)unbleached all-purpose flour
2tablespoons (24 g)granulated sugar
1teaspoonDiamond Crystal kosher salt
4tablespoons (2 oz; 60 g)unsalted butterroom temperature
⅔cuphomemade pumpkin buttersee recipe above
Creme Fraiche Frosting:
½cup (60 g)powdered sugarsifted
1tablespoon (15 mL)pure maple syrup
½cup (115 g)creme fraiche
½tsppure vanilla extract
Prepare the pumpkin butter: In a medium saucepan, combine all of the ingredients and whisk together. It will be relatively thick. Bring to a low simmer and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring every few minutes, or until the mixture has reduced and thickened. Set aside to cool completely before using. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 to 2 weeks.
Prepare the Dough: As the pumpkin butter is cooking, prepare the dough. In a small saucepan over medium heat, warm the milk until it is body temperature (or warm in a microwave in short 20 second increments). Transfer the warm milk to a large bowl and stir in the yeast. Let the mixture sit until the yeast is dissolved and looks cloudy (almost like miso soup), about 5 minutes. A few bubbles on the surface is also a good sign that your yeast is ready.
Crack one of the eggs into a small bowl and beat with a fork. Add the beaten egg to the milk-yeast mixture, along with the all-purpose flour, granulated sugar, salt, and butter. Use a wooden spoon to mix everything together until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl. If after a minute or two of mixing it doesn’t pull away from the bowl, add a little more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it does. If the dough seems far too dry and impossible to mix, add a little more milk, 1 tablespoons (15 mL) at a time, until it becomes more forgiving. This will depend on the humidity of your kitchen, use your instincts.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface. Shape the dough into a large ball and knead it by pressing it with the heel of your hand and pushing it away from you, then immediately pulling it back, folding the top of the dough back on itself. Kneading is all about this push-and-pull. Turn the dough clockwise a little bit each time you push and pull it so that it gets evenly worked, and knead it until its surface is completely smooth and the whole thing feels both solid and soft at the same time, not unlike a baby’s bottom. It will take a solid 5 minutes of kneading.
Put the dough back in the large bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough sit in the warmest spot in your kitchen until it’s soft and puffy and just about doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
Return the dough to the lightly floured work surface and use a floured rolling pin to roll it into a large ovalish rectangle measuring roughly 18 in [46 cm] long and 12-inch [30.5 cm] wide. If the dough resists while you are rolling it, simply let it rest until it yields to the rolling pin; dough responds well to patience. Spread the surface of the dough evenly with ⅔ cup cooled pumpkin butter, leaving a ½-inch [12-mm] border. Starting from a long side, roll the dough up tightly so you end up with an 18-inch [46-cm] rope. Cut the rope into a dozen even slices (I like to cut it in half and then cut each half in half, and so forth, so that it’s easy to get even pieces). The ends might not have much pumpkin butter—you can still add them to the bunch to make a baker’s dozen.
Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper. Arrange the buns, spiraled-butter-side up, on the prepared baking sheet in relatively even rows. The buns should be touching each other but not shoving each other and the seams on the rolls should be facing inward in the “huddle” so that they don’t unravel in the oven. Cover the buns loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until they’ve risen a bit and are soft and puffy, about 1 hour. How to Make Ahead: Alternatively, let the rolls rise at room temperature for just 30 minutes, cover in plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight. The next morning, pull them out and let return to room temperature, about 1 hour, before proceeding.
Bake the Rolls: Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C) with a rack in the center position. Crack the remaining egg into a small bowl and whisk it with 1 tablespoon (15 mL) water. Uncover the buns and brush them with the egg mixture (I use my hands for this so I get to be very gentle, achieve even coverage, and don’t have to wash a brush afterward). Discard whatever egg mixture is left over (or save for another use such as a tiny omelet).
Bake the buns until they’re beautifully browned and the exposed butter is caramelized, about 25 to 30 minutes.
Prepare the Frosting: While the buns are in the oven, in a small bowl, whisk together the sifted powdered sugar, maple syrup, crème fraîche, and vanilla until smooth. Drizzle the hot buns with the crème fraîche mixture—this should be a wonderfully messy moment. Serve immediately. These buns are best served warm out of the oven rather than at room temperature.
If you know you will have extra buns, don’t top them with the crème fraîche. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for a couple of days or wrap tightly in plastic and freeze for up to 1 month (thaw at room temperature). Warm in a 350°F (180°C) oven for 10 minutes. Top the warmed buns with the crème fraiche mixture and serve.
Tips for Success:
FOR RASPBERRY ROLLS: replace the pumpkin butter with 2/3 cup raspberry jam.
FOR CINNAMON ROLLS: instead of spreading the dough with raspberry jam, sprinkle the surface evenly with a thin layer of brown sugar and shake over a very thin dusting of cinnamon, then roll it up and proceed as instructed. Substitute cream cheese for the crème fraîche in the frosting mixture.
FOR TERRIFIC GARLIC BUNS: instead of spreading the dough with raspberry jam, brush it with ½ cup [110 g] melted butter and then sprinkle over six minced garlic cloves, a generous sprinkle of salt, and a handful of finely chopped parsley. Roll up the dough and proceed as instructed. Skip the frosting!
FOR BUTTERY DINNER ROLLS: divide the dough into a dozen evenly sized pieces and form each into a little ball by rolling it between your hands. Transfer the balls to a parchment paper– lined baking sheet, arranging them so that they’re touching each other. Cover with plastic and let them rest and rise for 1 hour. Uncover, brush with egg, and bake in a 350°F [180°C] oven until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Brush with melted butter instead of frosting.