Fall isn't really here until the first batch of pumpkin breakfast rolls are out of the oven, don't you agree? We love pulling them apart while still warm, and breathing in that spicy pumpkin-scented steam. We save the soft middle for last and then lick all the glaze from our fingers.
This no-knead version is perfect for making ahead. The dough can rise for anywhere from one to three hours to fit your schedule. The risen dough is easiest to work with if you can refrigerate it for at least an hour, though you can shape and bake the rolls right away if you need to. We usually make the dough the night before and shape the rolls in the morning. In a warm kitchen, they puff up quickly and are ready for baking in under an hour.
We also take a tip from Ree Drummond the Pioneer Woman and recommend pouring the glaze over the rolls while they're still warm. This way, the glaze oozes down into every nook and cranny, ensuring a bit of frosting in every bite. Is there anything better?
No-Knead Pumpkin Rolls with Brown Sugar Glaze
For the dough:
1/4 cup water
1 scant tablespoon yeast (1 package)
1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
For the filling:
1/2 cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 cups pecans - toasted, chopped, and divided in half (optional)
For the glaze:
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup milk
1 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
Sprinkle the yeast over the water and let it sit a few minutes until the yeast is dissolved.
Meanwhile, warm the milk and butter in a small saucepan on the stove top until the butter is melted. Combine this with the sugar in a large heat-proof mixing bowl and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved.
Let the milk mixture cool until it is just warm to the touch - NOT HOT. Then stir in the yeast and the pumpkin. Add the salt and five cups of the flour all at once, stirring until all the flour has been absorbed. Squish it between your hands if you're having trouble incorporating the last of the flour. The dough will be sticky, but should come together in a shaggy ball. If it's still more the consistency of cookie batter, work in an additional 1/2 cup of flour.
Cover the dough and let it rise for 1-3 hours. During this time, it should double in bulk. At this point, you can punch the dough down and refrigerate it overnight or continue shaping the rolls.
To shape the rolls (either immediately or with the refrigerated dough), sprinkle your work surface with a little flour and dump the dough on top. Pat it down into a rough rectangle and then use a floured rolling pin to roll it into a rectangular shape about a half an inch thick, longer than it is wide. If the dough gets sticky, sprinkle a little more flour on the dough's surface and on your hands.
Melt the butter in the microwave and stir in the brown sugar and the spices. Spread this over the rectangle of dough, leaving an inch of bare dough at the top. Sprinkle one cup of the toasted pecans over the dough, if using. Starting at the edge closest to you, roll the dough into a cylinder and pinch it closed at the top.
Rub a tablespoon of soft butter into the bottom of two 9x13 baking dishes, two 9-inch cake pans, or a combination. Using a bench cutter or a sharp knife, cut the cylinder into individual rolls 1 - 1 1/2 inches thick. Place them into your baking dishes so they have a little wiggle room on all sides to rise. Cover them with a clean kitchen towel and let them rise until they fill the pan and look puffy, 30 minutes for already-warm dough and 1 hour for dough that's been refrigerated.
About 20 minutes before baking, begin heating the oven to 375°. When the rolls are ready, bake them for 20-25 minutes, until the tops are golden and starting to look toasted around the edges. Rotate the pans halfway through cooking.
While they are baking, prepare the glaze. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the milk and butter. When the butter has melted, add the brown sugar and salt. Stir until the brown sugar has melted. Remove from heat and strain into a mixing bowl to remove any sugar clumps. Stir in the powdered sugar. This should form a thick but pourable glaze.
Let the baked rolls cool for about five minutes and then pour the glaze on top. Sprinkle the remaining cup of pecans over the top, if more nuttiness is desired. Eat them immediately. Leftovers will keep for several days and are best reheated for a minute in the microwave.
(Images: Emma Christensen)