Welcome, glorious pumpkin season! To the delight of my family and dinner-joining school friends, these days you can find me turning pumpkin into something roasted, mashed or baked almost every week. Pumpkin simply makes so many things even better. This doesn’t hold true for savoury dishes only, but also for sweet baking. The addition of pumpkin puree to dough or batter makes the most delicious pancakes, muffins or pumpkin bread, to name just a few. And did you know dat pumpkin puree can serve as a substitute for eggs and butter in sweet baking? A good reason to start experimenting, I think.
As it turns out, there is also just one thing even better than cinnamon buns for breakfast, lunch or tea and that’s pumpkin cinnamon buns. The pumpkin acts as a natural sweetener, apart from making the buns moist and airy. As a pleasant result, it makes you very well-liked by the people you serve them to.
The combination of pumpkin and cinnamon rolls isn’t new. Almost every self-respecting cook has published his or her own version. These recipes can vary considerably, ranging from completely fat free to using two whole packages of butter and from dough with three cups of sugar to just one modest teaspoon of it just for the sake of it.
The buns below are my version, making me quite happy and scoring high points with my guests. It’s a compromise between the options above, made with rapeseed oil and a layer of cinnamon sugar ranging just between a lot and a little. They’re nice and sweet, but not too sweet, crisp on the outside and soft, moist and fluffy on the inside. And they are best when eaten straight from the oven, using your fingers to peel off the layers. Just a suggestion…
Pretty pumpkin cinnamon sticky buns – makes 12
for the dough
- 7 g dry instant yeast
- 50 ml luke-warm water
- 30 g demerara sugar
- 280 g plain flour
- 70 g wholewheat flour
- 3 g salt
- 100 g pumpkin puree, fresh or canned (in which case not pumpkin pie filling, but pure pumpkin mash)
- seeds of 1 vanilla pod, or 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 70 ml almond milk or other milk of choice
- 30 ml rapeseed oil or other neutral-flavoured oil, plus a little extra for greasing the bowl and brushing the tops of the buns
for the filling
- 75 g demerara sugar
- 1 tbsp. cinnamon
- generous pinch of dried ginger
- generous pinch of nutmeg
- generous pinch of allspice
- 3 tbsp. rapeseed oil or other neutral-flavoured oil
In a large cup, mix the yeast with the luke-warm water and the sugar. Set aside to activate the yeast. After 5-10 minutes the mixture should be foamy and doubled in volume.
In a large mixing bowl, mix the flours and the salt. Add the pumpkin puree, yeast mixture, vanilla, almond milk and oil. Using your hands or the dough hook of your mixer, mix the ingredients until they come together, then knead for 5 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Lightly brush the mixing bowl with vegetable oil, then place the dough in the bowl and turn until covered in oil. Cover the bowl with cling film and set aside in a warm place for an hour.
Meanwhile, mix the sugar and spices for the filling.
When the dough has doubled in size, punch out the air and knead for another minute. On a floured work surface, roll the dough into a 1 cm thick rectangle. Brush over the oil, leaving a 1 cm strip of one of the long edges uncovered, then sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar.
Moisten the uncovered strip of dough with a little water. Starting from the opposite side, roll up the dough into a tight cylinder. Use the dampened edge to seal the roll, then place it on the work surface, seam-side down.
Cut the cylinder into 12 topped triangles.
Turn the triangles, top side up. Using your little fingers (or the ink-stained ones of your children), press down the middle of the dough, to make the cut edges curl upwards.
Put the buns on a lined baking sheet, leaving enough room between them to be baked individually. Brush the tops with a little vegetable oil, then cover with clingfilm.
Leave to prove for a further 45 minutes, until doubled in volume.
Heat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4.
Bake the buns for 20 minutes until golden.
Enjoy them, preferably straight from the oven. If you plan to eat them the next day, sprinkle them with a little water and reheat them in a moderately hot oven for approximately 8 minutes.