This bread not only looks like little pumpkins, but it also has pumpkin puree as an ingredient. I am smitten with these rolls – so delicious and so cute! Plus, they are easier to make than you might think!
These rolls are soft and delicious, with just a touch of sweetness. Sure to impress and perfect for Thanksgiving, Halloween, or any special Fall occasion!
Using whole milk in this recipe makes the rolls more moist and tender. You can scald it in the microwave or on the stove top. If you use instant yeast, you only need 1 tablespoon and the proofing isn’t necessary, but you do still want to get that water and sugar in the dough.
You can use pureed butternut squash, pureed sweet potatoes, or pureed yams in place of the pumpkin, if desired. This dough is so perfect for the pumpkin shape because of the pleasant orange coloring!
You want to add just enough flour to make a soft and slightly sticky dough. It needs to rise until doubled, about 1 hour before shaping. Then another 45 minutes or so after shaping. Baking only takes about 10 minutes! However, unless you have convection, you will want to bake each sheet separately. To make ahead, you can cover and refrigerate the dough after that first rise, then finish the recipe the next day.
Shaping the rolls into pumpkins really only takes a few minutes more than traditional round rolls. Just flatten the dough balls and snip around the edges! You can keep them traditional if you want to, of course. However, I plan to make these pumpkin-shaped ones a Thanksgiving tradition at my house!
4 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/4 cup warm water
about 5 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg, lightly beaten (for egg wash)
15-20 pecan halves, sliced into 3 vertical sections
1/4 cup melted butter (optional)
Scald the milk in the microwave for about 3 minutes or on the stove top. Add the butter to the hot milk and stir until melted. In a large mixing bowl combine the milk mixture, sugars, pumpkin, and salt.
In a small bowl, proof the yeast in the warm water with the teaspoon of sugar. When it gets foamy, add it to the pumpkin mixture. Whisk in the egg until combined.
Stir in the flour one cup at a time until dough comes together well, but still soft and slightly sticky. (If you use an electric mixer with a dough hook, mix until dough pulls away from side of the bowl.) Turn the dough out onto a surface dusted with a little bit of flour. Knead by hand for 1 minute. Form the dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl. Cover bowl lightly with greased plastic wrap and let the dough rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Punch down the dough and knead for a few seconds to deflate. Cut the dough in half. Roll each half into a long, even rope and divide each into 16 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and place on baking sheet, about 2 inches apart.
Slightly flatten each ball with the palm of your hand. Using kitchen scissors, cut 8 slits around the edge of each dough ball. Poke the center of each ball with your small finger to leave a deep indentation. Cover and let rise again until doubled, about 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Poke in the center of the rolls again, if needed. Brush each roll with lightly beaten egg. Bake for 9-12 minutes. Brush rolls with melted butter and insert pecan pieces to mimic a pumpkin stem.
You may substitute pureed butternut squash or yam for the pumpkin, if desired.
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