Tuesday marks October first and I am more than happy to beat October to the punch by eating more pumpkin things than anyone else on planet Earth. Last weekend I ran into an old high school friend who said she couldn’t drink a Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte until October- to which I pondered on my gluttonous PSL intake since August. I have no regrets.
Pumpkin is just one of those comforting fall flavors that you just wanna curl up in and fall asleep. It’s spicy and sweet, and with enough bacon, even savory. (Sorry, no bacon in this entry). Last October, my boyfriend Josh was preparing to leave to United Stated Air Force Basic Training. Much of my time then was spent ignoring the situation by feeding him pumpkin pancakes, coffee, cheesecake, literally anything I knew he wasn’t going to be eating while he was away. It must be the Italian in me, but I’m not happy unless I’m feeding people.
In one week, my dear boy will be home for two weeks so I am preparing with some new pumpkin recipes. I was thinking back to when I visited him in San Antonio for his Basic Training Graduation. We went to this Diner called LuLu’s, which was featured on Food Network for it’s 3 lb cinnamon bun. Literally… look at the size of this bun. (Side note: Josh, RELAX, you should feel honored. The only other “person” to make it onto the blog has been the Daisy, the dog.)
How big is that bun? It really is true what they say, everything really is bigger in Texas.
What better way to welcome Josh back home than with some warm, homemade Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls? Though, mine are on the more regulation cinnamon roll size. My Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls are brushed with bourbon syrup and sprinkled with a cocktail of spices before being wrapped up into a long log, cut into 1 inch slices, and left to rise before being baked off. Oh, and brushed with butter. Because I can’t help myself, I topped the rolls off with caramel icing, leftover bourbon syrup, and candied pecans. If these rolls don’t scream, “WOW you literally have the best woman on planet Earth and should come home more often” then I don’t know what does! Well… maybe the Bacon Bourbon Cupcakes from my last entry have the same message.
Some people find Cinnamon Rolls intimidating because they can be finicky and I used to agree. Anything with yeast used to scare me into thinking I was heading into an imminent cave of doom, not to mention the wrong kind of chewy, dense bready hell. But this recipe is easy peasy! Just remember, be patient and pay attention! That yeasty taste that we all know too well and hate happens when you leave the dough to rise for too long. When working with yeast, remember, yeast is not a fine wine. When it peaks, you gotta move. Don’t worry, I timed it all out for you.
Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Bourbon & Caramel Icing
Don’t be intimidated by the long list of ingredients. It’s repetitive, just broken down to make it easier to track. This is a VERY SIMPLE recipe that will impress all.
Ingredients, for the Dough:
2 1/4 Teaspoons, or one packet, of Dry Active Yeast
1/4 Cup warm water, NOT hot water
1/3 Cup whole milk
2 Tablespoons butter
1/2 Cup pumpkin puree
3 Tablespoons white sugar
2 Teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 Teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 Teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves, I get generous with the clove because it is my FAVORITE spice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
2 Cups bread flour, using bread flour will ensure a lighter, softer roll
Ingredients for the Bourbon Syrup:
1 Cup bourbon
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons Dark Brown Sugar
1 1/2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
Ingredients for the Spice filling:
1/2 + 2 Tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 Teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 Teaspoon nutmeg
Ingredients for the Caramel Frosting:
1/4 Cup butter
1/2 Cup packed dark brown sugar
2 Tablespoons whole milk
1/2 Teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 Cup powdered sugar
Ingredients for the Candied Pecans:
1 1/2 Cups pecans
1/2 Teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 Teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 Tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 Tablespoon Pure Maple Syrup
1/2 Teaspoon salt
Directions for the Dough: Proof the yeast by combining the yeast and the warm water. Mix with a fork until the yeast just dissolved. Then, let proof for 5-10 minutes. When it is fully proofed, it will have doubled in size and formed a thick coat of bubbles and foam. Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons of butter and milk in a small saucepan. Let cool for a few minutes. In an electric mixer, combine the pumpkin puree, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground ginger, cloves, and salt. Once combined, beat in an egg. Then, add in your proofed yeast. On a medium-low speed, mix in your bread flour 1/2 cup at a time. Once all the flour is in the bowl, mix on low speed for about 3 minutes. It will be a soft, gooey dough. Do not get nervous if it looks too “loose.” I promise you’re doing it right! Then, you want to place the dough in a lightly greased bowl. Place the dough in a dark, warm place to rise for 1 hour. While the dough is rising, now is the time to get started on your bourbon syrup, caramel icing, and candied pecans.
Directions for the Bourbon Syrup: In a saucepan, bring bourbon, butter, dark brown sugar, and maple syrup to a boil. Then turn to low heat and let reduce for about 40 minutes until it thickens up. Turn off heat. As it cools it will thicken.
Directions for the Caramel Syrup: Brown the butter in a medium saucepan. Then, add in brown sugar and milk until it is all melted, about 1-3 minutes. Then, remove from heat and add in vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. When it is all mixed together, add in the powdered sugar. As it cools, it will thicken slightly, but you want it to be a little on the thin side. If you add too much powdered sugar, it will form a frosting.
Directions for the Candied Pecans: Preheat the oven to 400 degree Fahrenheit. On a small buttered baking sheet, mix pecans with dark brown sugar, maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt until all the nuts are covered. The bake for 10-15 minutes until just brown and toasty. Let cool completely.
BACK TO THE DOUGH: Now that your dough has risen, roll out to a rectangle shape thing. I’m not looking for perfection. This is what mine looked like. Does that look like a perfect angle to you?
In a separate bowl, mix together the dark brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Once your dough is rolled out, brush it with the bourbon syrup, but saving some to drizzle on top later on. then, rub the brown sugar mixture to your dough. It will look like this.
Then, gently roll your dough into a long log, like a jelly roll. Prepare a generously buttered 11×17 baking pan. Cut the log into 1 inch slices and place in the pan. Once your log is sliced and placed into the pan, cover and let rise again for 45 minutes in a dark, warm place. During this time, heat oven to 350 degreed fahrenheit. Once the rolls are doubled in size. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter and brush the tops of the rolls with butter and bake for 20-25 minutes.
Assemble: While the Cinnamon rolls are warm, drizzle with the caramel icing and bourbon syrup and embellish those rolls with the candied pecans. Let cool for 15 minutes before serving.
How can you say no to these pumpkin rolls of sweet, sweet love? I mean, you just can’t. Even if you’ve never worked with yeast, or have had cinnamon roll nightmares, if you follow these steps, you will be eating these rolls in about 2 1/2-3 hours.