23 October 2011

Pumpkin Dinner Rolls

If you happen to know me outside the fantastic world of the Internet, you know how much I adore pumpkins. My mother still calls me Pumpkin occasionally. Kay gave me a wallet in the image of a glittering pumpkin for my bachelorette party. She also kept a back-up for herself when I wore out the first with gleeful overuse, which I already have. In Japan I cooked weekly recipes with the Japanese pumpkin, called kabocha, which required peeling, seeding, and hewing into rough chunks; the resulting delicious orange goodness completely validated my labor. 

I own a cookbook entirely devoted to the pumpkin; no other foodstuff has earned such an honor on my shelf. (Aside: Ye Orange Cookbooks that Do Not Feature Copious Pumpkin Recipes Should Be Ashamed of YeSelves!) I use the pumpkin cookbook frequently, but I also collect recipes from the Internet that augment the cookbook's slim offerings.  Today's recipe comes from such Webly roamings. These pumpkin dinner rolls scratched my itch for hot fresh fluffy rolls, for the gentle sweetness of pumpkin, and for something golden and round. They go amazingly well with hot tea and soft butter and somehow improve in flavor while they cool, reaching their peak around 8 hours later.

For the original recipe for 48 rolls, go HERE. Tammy has many great pictures and comments from delighted readers that will convince you to make this immediately. Below I provide the original recipe halved, which is great if you want to use a bread machine or mixing bowl for the mixing, kneading, and rising. With the original recipe, the dough gets so huge it's hard to manage. One other edit: Tammy suggests constantly greasing and buttering everything, but George and I experimented a little and found that most of that added fat was completely unnecessary for turning out rich, moist, and golden rolls.

The pumpkin aspect of these rolls is pretty faint—just enough to give extra satisfaction and sweetness and color. Therefore these rolls won't interfere with any Thanksgiving plans for pumpkin soup or pumpkin pie or stuffed pumpkin or pumpkin lattes. You could even use the rolls to compliment any savory pumpkin dishes; they will provide only the gentlest echo of my beloved squash.

Pumpkin Dinner Rolls

1/2 Cup sugar
1/4 Cup warm water
1 Cup warm milk or soy milk
1/8 Cup unsalted butter, softened or melted
1 Cup canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 Cup whole wheat flour
5-6 Cups bread flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
3 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

Note: If you have a standard bread machine, you can make the Steps 1-4 in the bread machine on the "Dough" setting.

  1. In a large bowl, mix sugar, water, milk, butter, pumpkin, and salt.
  2. Add whole wheat flour and 3 1/2 to 4 Cups of white flour and yeast. Mix.
  3. Continue adding white flour and kneading until dough is elastic and not sticky.
  4. Cover dough with a damp towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 to 1 and 1/2 hours.
  5. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Punch the dough down. With a sharp knife, divide it into equal thirds. Then divide each third into 8 pieces. Flour your hands and shape each piece into a ball. Space evenly on baking sheets. Spray the tops of the rolls lightly with oil (optional).
  6. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350º F.
  7. Bake 15 to 20 minutes until the tops are golden.
Makes 24 rolls. Serve in a bowl lined with a clean cloth.

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