Friday, December 6, 2013

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Maple Bourbon Glaze

I'm not going to write much about these because a) the recipe is really long with several notes at the end, and b) I think the title speaks for itself. But I will say this: these cinnamon rolls took a boatload of time, and they were worth EVERY second. They turned out sweet, gooey, super soft, and basically the same thing as happiness on a plate.

One quick matter of business before we get to the recipe. I opted to mix and knead the dough in my bread maker. So the dough-making directions below are taken almost word-for-word from The Pioneer Woman, and I cannot personally vouch for how the process works. This was a little too much dough for my bread machine (most of its recipes call for 3 cups flour, and this recipe has 4-1/2) so it overflowed a bit but thankfully didn't make too big a mess. If you go the bread machine route, make sure your machine can handle this much volume, or cut the recipe in half.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Maple Bourbon Glaze

Adapted from The Pioneer Woman 
Glaze adapted from my Pumpkin Monkey Bread recipe
Yield: 24 rolls

1-1/2 cups milk (I used 2%; original recipe was for whole milk)
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup sugar
2-1/4 tsp. active dry yeast (1 envelope)
1 cup pumpkin puree
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/2 cup additional all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
Additional flour for kneading and rolling

3/4 cup butter, melted, divided
1/2 cup brown sugar (I used dark)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
8 oz. cream cheese, very soft (I used reduced fat)
1 cup finely chopped pecans

6 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. maple syrup
2 Tbsp. brown sugar (I used dark)
2 Tbsp. rum or bourbon

Make the dough:* In a large saucepan, combine milk, vegetable oil, and sugar. Heat until hot but not boiling; remove from the stove and allow it to cool until it's warm to the touch but not too hot. Sprinkle the yeast over the surface of the liquid and allow it to sit for 5 minutes. Stir in pumpkin puree.

Combine flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Sprinkle it into the saucepan and stir until it just comes together. Cover with a dish towel and set in a warm, draft-free place for 1 hour.

After an hour, the mixture should be very puffy and at least doubled in size. Whisk together the additional 1/2 cup flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Stir into the dough until fully combined.

Roll out the dough: Dust your countertop and hands with flour. Turn dough out onto the counter and form into a rectangle. If it's too sticky, work in additional flour until it's handleable, but don't work in too much extra flour.** Flour a rolling pin and roll the dough into a large rectangle, roughly 30 inches wide by 10 inches deep.

Add the fillings: Melt 3/4 cup butter and set aside to cool slightly. In a small bowl, combine sugar and filling spices. Dot the dough with globs of softened cream cheese, then use a dull butter knife (or the back of a spoon) to carefully spread it.*** It will not spread perfectly; that's okay. Pour about 1/4 cup of the melted butter over the dough and cream cheese, and use your fingers to spread it around evenly. Sprinkle sugar mixture evenly over the surface of the dough, followed by the pecans. Pour the remaining butter into two 9 x 13 x 2 inch pans, and swirl it around so it evenly coats the pans.

Roll, cut, and bake: For a more manageable rolling process, cut the dough in half, so you're left with two rectangles that are 15 inches wide by 10 inches deep. Starting at the top, roll each rectangle toward you into a large log, rolling as tightly as possible as you go. I frequently had to use a floured rubber spatula with a sharp edge to gently loosen the dough from the counter. End the rolling process the with seam down on the counter.

Use a sharp (floured) knife or dental floss to cut each of the two logs into 12 rolls (I find it's helpful to make hash marks before cutting). Nestle the rolls into the buttered pans. Cover each pan with a damp towel (one that's okay if it gets stained) and let rise in a warm, draft-free place for about 20 minutes. (Tip: Heat oven to 200, turn OFF, and place rolls in the warmed oven to rise.)

If rolls are rising in the oven, remove them. Preheat oven to 375. Bake for 15-25 minutes, or until golden brown around the edges, rotating the pans halfway through. Mine took exactly 20 minutes.

Make the glaze: Combine butter, maple syrup, brown sugar, and bourbon in a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat, whisking constantly, for 3-5 minutes, until sugar is dissolved and browned, butter is nice and foamy, and some of the alcohol has cooked out. Drizzle glaze evenly over the cinnamon rolls. Let them cool for a few minutes before serving.

*Alternatively, if you have a bread machine that's big enough, put all dough ingredients into a bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Use the dough cycle to make the dough, knead it, and let it rise.

**At this point Ree said the dough should be really sticky, and you should work in just enough flour so you can handle the dough. At this point, mine was more like batter than dough, so I ended up working in at least another cup of flour before I could actually handle the dough. Perhaps I mis-measured the flour initially, or maybe the bread machine method made for a wetter dough.

***On all the fillings, leave a 1/2 inch edge along the bottom of the rectangle with no filling. This will help it seal better when you roll everything up.

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