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In my career as a Human Being, I have had some interesting ideas: flour, water, sugar and pink food coloring to make a beverage for a tea party? Awesome! I’ve had some Terrible ideas: Gee, Greg (my younger brother), sorry I hit you very hard on your arm. Here, we’ll put some baby powder on it so it will feel all better. Then you won’t have to tell Mom and Dad when they get home.

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I’ve had ideas that are good in theory but always need more tweaking to elevate them to Amazing than I am willing to give: coconut cupcakes with cucumber lime buttercream sound wonderful, but I just am not inspired to continue tinkering. And then, very occasionally, I have an idea that is just about perfect. The stars align, and what I dream up not only is interesting, but good, not only in theory but in practice as well.

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Happily, my most recent set of ideas falls into the Latter Category. First, I was inspired by all the pumpkin pie lattes to make espresso pumpkin butter, and it is Wonderful. Then, I decided it would be a great idea to make sticky buns and sweet rolls using the butter as a filling. Honestly, friends, these turned out so well that they Just Might Be the best things I have ever made. For real.

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What’s great about this recipe (you know I hate that word) is that you can make half of the dough into sweet rolls and the other half into sticky buns. Or you can make all of one or the other. Or, you can make 1/3 into rolls and the other 2/3 into buns. Or…well, you get the idea.

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The sweet roll dough is the same one that I generally use, but this particular batch turned out to be the best one yet. I attribute its success to the addition of Very Old Buttermilk. I smelled it first, to make sure that we wouldn’t Die if we ingested it, and it still smelled fine, but it was…elderly.
If that makes you feel squidgy, by all means use new buttermilk. I found, though, that a)it was a great way to use up some sad buttermilk that had been sitting in the fridge for…a long time…crossing its fingers every time I opened the door and then slumping back despondently in the dark after I’d shut the door again, and b)buttermilk can sit around for a long time and still work well–even better than fresh–in baked goods. So for all of you folks who bought buttermilk for a recipe and now can’t figure out what to do with the 7/8-full container in your fridge, know that it can just hang out in there for…a long time…and that you can use it to make bread.

If you’ve never made sweet rolls/sticky buns/cinnamon rolls before, check out my Helpful Video Tutorial. It shows how to make this Actual Dough plus the technique for rolling out, filling and rolling up sweet rolls.

And now, without further Ado, I give you Espresso Pumpkin Butter Sweet Rolls and Sticky Buns!

Espresso Pumpkin Butter Sweet Rolls and Sticky Buns

Jennifer Field
These are light, fluffy, ridiculously tender and surprisingly, not too sweet, especially if you only use a little glaze on the sweet rolls. The pumpkin butter filling is not at all cloying as cinnamon roll filling can sometimes be, and the espresso flavor mellows a bit, giving the filling some nice low notes that your Happy Eaters might not be able to put their finger on. I baked my guys in 2 9″ cake pans. You can use a cookie sheet, jelly roll pan, glass baking dish–whatever you want. You can even make these in a Bundt-type pan to end up with pull-apart monkey bread.
5 from 4 votes
Tried this recipe?Please give it a star rating!


For the Dough

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 whole egg
  • 2 teaspoons dried yeast (see note)
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons salt
  • 2 oz . sugar
  • 3 oz . melted butter
  • 6-8 oz . (or more, if necessary) buttermilk (old is fine. Very old is better)
  • 20 oz . AP flour

For the Espresso Pumpkin Butter filling

  • Follow the link to Espresso Pumpkin Butter above
  • about 1/4 cup sugar , divided

For the Sticky Bun Topping

  • 2 oz butter , softened (1/2 stick)
  • cup dark brown sugar , packed
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder (I used King Arthur)
  • a few dribbles of dark corn syrup
  • about 1/2-2/3 cup lovely pecan halves

For the Cream Cheese Glaze for the Sweet Rolls

  • 3 oz . softened butter
  • 3 oz . softened cream cheese
  • 8 oz . powdered sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • wee splash of vanilla
  • half and half , enough to make an icing consistency (or glaze consistency–it’s up to you)


  • Put all of the dough ingredients (use 6 oz buttermilk) in the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer. Mix on low speed until the dough comes together, adding extra buttermilk to achieve a fairly soft dough that sticks in the bottom of the mixer bowl but clears the sides of the bowl when kneading.
  • Once the dough comes together, knead on medium speed until the dough is smooth, supple, only barely sticky and very extensible or stretchy, about ten minutes.
  • Shape the dough into a ball and place, smooth side up, in a large greased bowl (I just use the mixing bowl since it’s already dirty). Spray the dough with nonstick spray or brush it with a little butter or oil. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled or even tripled in size. (I let mine rise in the oven with the oven light on).
  • When the dough is ready, turn it out onto the counter and press out all the gases.
  • Cut the ball in half (if making two types of rolls), and cover one half with a lint-free towel.
  • Roll the other half of the dough into a rectangle about 12″ wide and 10″ high. Try to keep the edges as even as possible.
  • Spread a fairly thick layer of pumpkin butter onto the rectangle, making sure to leave about 1 1/2″ of clear dough at one long edge of the rectangle. (at least 1/8″ thick. You don’t really want to see dough peeking through)
  • Sprinkle the topping with a light dusting of sugar, about 2 tablespoons (I just did this by hand and didn’t really measure).
  • Roll up the rectangle of dough, starting at the far end and rolling towards yourself. The pumpkin butter is pretty soft, so don’t manhandle it. Pinch the edge of the dough where it meets the rest of the cylinder to seal the seam.
  • Cut off irregular ends (I like dental floss for this) and then slice the rolls however thick you’d like. Again, the filling is soft so this can be a little messy. Don’t worry; persevere.
  • Repeat the process with the second half of the dough.

For Sticky Buns (Skip these next two steps if making sweet rolls)

  • Mash all of the sticky bun topping ingredients together, except for the pecans.
  • Line 2 9″ round cake pans with parchment circles. Spread the sticky bun topping evenly in one pan. Top with the pecans, pretty sides down (The pretty sides will be up when you turn them out onto a plate).
  • Place your cut rolls in the prepared pans. I put one in the center and then six around the outsides. Try to leave about 1/2″ of space between all the rolls to leave room for rising.
  • Cover and let rise until poofy and almost doubled, about an hour in a warm place.
  • Bake at 350F until the internal temperature of the center bun is around 200F (from 195F-205F is fine). This will take about 30-40 minutes, depending on your oven. If the tops of the buns start getting too dark, loosely tent them with foil.
  • If you don’t have a thermometer, you can judge doneness fairly well by color and touch, but you won’t be able to do the old “thump on the bottom” trick, especially with the sticky buns.
  • When the buns are done, let cool for about ten minutes.

For the Sweet Rolls (the sticky buns don’t need a glaze)

  • Mix up the cream cheese icing or glaze and apply as liberally or as lightly as you’d like. (If you have extra, it’ll keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks with no problem. Or, just make less).
  • Ice/drizzle glaze on the sweet rolls.
  • Put a large plate over the pan of sticky buns. Wearing oven mitts or using towels, carefully flip over the pan of buns, shaking if necessary, so they slip out onto the plate. Scrape any topping left in the pan onto the buns, letting some drip Attractively down the sides.
  • Cool to at least warm before diving in.

Did You Make Any Changes?


You can manipulate the rising time to a certain extent by increasing or decreasing the amount of yeast you use. Use as much as a tablespoon for a relatively quick rise and as little as 1 teaspoon for a very slow rise. In this case, I went with 2 teaspoons and split the difference.
I ended up with seven of each type of bun, plus four end pieces that I cut off of the rolls which I turned into sweet rolls. You, of course, may slice the tubes of dough differently to get more or fewer buns.
Did you make this recipe?Please tell us what you loved!

I hope you try them, because I know that you will love them! Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day.

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  1. I really want to make this recipe but I can’t find the Espresso Pumpkin Butter recipe anywhere. Could you please put a link in your recipe? Thank you for posting such an innovative recipe.

    1. Hi, Bonnie! That recipe isn’t on the site (I can change that!) but here you go:

      20 oz . canned pumpkin puree, (NOT pie filling)
      1 cup sugar, (I used demerara)
      1/2 cup apple cider
      1 teaspoon salt
      1 tablespoon espresso powder, (I used King Arthur)
      2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
      1/4 teaspoon ground clove
      juice of half a lemon

      Cook all the ingredients except the lemon juice together over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until slightly darker in color and much thicker.
      Stir in the lemon juice. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.
      Chill and use however you want.


  2. What beautiful buns/sweet rolls! I love how you set them on top of the pecans and sugar to make a sticky topping when flipped. Brilliant, as usual, Jenni.

    Your career as a Human Being made me laugh. Off to update my Linkedin profile. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Thank you, Stacy! I think these will be making an appearance–made with pumpkin sweet dough this time, at breakfast the day after Thanksgiving.

      I wish someone would pay me for my career as a human being! LOL

  3. I am making these tonight… My mom is here, not wel
    , and no appetite. I know if mine are 1/10 as good as yours, she’ll be eating them ALL!
    I actually ran out of the pumpkin butter ( made it a while ago), so for the leftover DUI used some homemade strawberry jam and fresh crushed strawberries and blueberries….

  4. These sound amazingly superfantastic. I’m glad you’ve been inspired by pumpkin lately – I might just have to make these for my family for Christmas this year!

  5. Hey Jenni

    I was just trying to straighten out my web stuff including the youtube channel and found you ad left a comment there about 8 months ago. Wow I have been delinquent in my reply. While I’ve still been baking not a lot of time for photos and blogging. I was silly enough to take an editor’s job for a photo agency LOL. So that’s been eating up most of my days and sometimes nites. But the baking blog is not forgotten, in fact right now it’s being upgraded on it’s own domain which I’ve linked here. The stuff is not all sorted out quite yet but should be in a few weeks. I still have to straighten out categories and stuff.

    I want to thank you for all of your hard work and for being a great motivator. I’ll let you know when the new site is totally up to snuff. You take care and Happy Halloween in case I don’t catch up with you.

    BTW great buns – so many ways to do these – you’ve done a great job here.

    Libby at ATVY

  6. 5 stars
    Your comment about food dye reminds me of when I tried to add pink crusha in lieu of dye to melted white chocolate for cake covering- don’t do it! It completely solidified and was awful!

    The buns look amazing, I so want to eat it all!!

    1. Don’t you hate when you think you have a great idea, and then it…isn’t. ๐Ÿ™ Thanks for the tip. And for you, don’t make a beverage out of water, sugar, flour and pink food coloring! ๐Ÿ˜† The buns ARE amazing; I hope you give them a try!

  7. 5 stars
    These were delicious! A great Autumn variation on traditional sweet rolls and sticky buns. Great for post-Thanksgiving breakfast!

    1. Elizabeth, my whole reason for writing this blog is to share with everyone! I do hope you try them, because I know you will love them! Thanks for being so supportive; I truly appreciate it! ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Butter. Sweet. Sticky. Cream cheese. Buns. These are all words that are guaranteed to stop me in my web-surfing tracks. The baking stars certainly did align for you with these baked yummies! I pine for my stand mixer, which is languishing in a Minnesota storage room instead of doing what it was destined to do: knead the dough for these buns. 8-( Please take pity and airmail a dozen or so, please?

    1. Oh, Tracey–how sad for your mixer, and for you! If you Must Have these buns, you can make them by hand, but it will require a lot of kneading and it will be kind of messy because the dough is pretty soft. Get Mr. Noodle to take turns with you. You should absolutely make some–you NEED them. I would send you some, but I doubt they’d be at their best after flying halfway around the world; I think the pumpkin butter would maybe get icky. ๐Ÿ™

  9. Jenni! Oh my gosh, they’re beautiful! I absolutely love your video, as well. It’s been too long since I made homemade cinnamon rolls. Maybe I’ll go ahead and plan some for Sunday morning.

    Thanks for sharing!

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