Thursday, January 9, 2014

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Our squash crop was a little troubled this year. We all had spring fever and were ready to get things in the ground as soon as the first stretch of warm, sunny weather hit. Alas, we were fooled, and the weather went back to its usual wintry cold-and-wet for another few weeks. All of our squash seeds rotted in the mud instead of germinating.

In late June, with a strip of unplanted ground still available in the garden, the Manflesh decided to give the squash a second try, even though it was a little late for our short growing season. He lost track of what he planted where (oops!) but they did okay! We got a nice carving pumpkin for Halloween, three or four cute acorns, some weird oblong things, a couple of buttercups, a pretty Lakota squash and... TEN sugar pie pumpkins.

The sugar pies have been roasted and frozen for a winter's worth of pumpkin treats, so I've been trying to find innovative ways to use them in my cooking, which led to the idea of incorporating some into a cinnamon roll recipe.

The result is decadent and delicious. I guarantee you won't miss the sugar.


4 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup cooked mashed pumpkin
1 1/3 cups warm water
1/4 cup powdered milk
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 1/2 tsp dry yeast
1 1/4 tsp salt


2 cups raisins
1 cup walnuts
4 tbsp butter
2 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp nutmeg
pinch clove


4 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup milk
4 dates
1 tsp vanilla

For the dough, mix the maple syrup into the water, and add the yeast to proof.  Combine dry ingredients. Mix the pumpkin into the wet ingredients, and add the wet mix to the dry. Knead for a few minutes, until a very soft dough forms. It should be sticky, but able to be formed into a soft ball. You may need a little more flour, depending on the moisture of your pumpkin. Place the dough in an oiled bowl covered with cling wrap or a damp towel to rise for about an hour, or until doubled.

While the dough rises, make the filling by combining all the ingredients in a blender, or chopping finely and mixing by hand.

When the dough has risen, punch it down, then roll it out on a greased surface into a rectangle about 12" by 16" and 1/2" thick. Spread with an even layer of the filling, which will be thick. The most effective way to do this is to use your hands to press small chunks of filling into thin sheets and use them to cover the dough as evenly as possible. Roll the rectangle up into a log, shaping with your hands a little if necessary to achieve an even cylinder. Cut the log into 12 slices, and place the slices cut side up in a greased 9" by 13" pan. Cover the pan, and allow the rolls to rise again. You can work up to this point in an evening, then place the risen rolls in the fridge to bake the next morning, or just keep rolling from here.

Bake the risen rolls in a 350 degree oven for 35-40 minutes, or until set and lightly browned. While the rolls bake, prepare the icing by microwaving the cream cheese, milk, and dates for 30-60 seconds, until warm. Add the vanilla, and blend with an immersion blender (or a conventional blender if that's all you have) until you have a smooth, creamy icing. When the rolls come out of the oven, spread the icing evenly over the top, then serve warm.

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