I love a good, crusty bread. One you practically have to snap your head back away from in order to tear off a bite. I love to dip that kind of bread in oil. But when it comes to gravy–brown, turkey, chicken or beef gravy and not the Italian version of gravy–I want a soft roll. I want a squishy roll, and while we’re at it, I want it to be rich, too. I want it to soak up gravy or let me make tiny sandwiches of parts of my meal. A bit of turkey. A bit of stuffing. A bit of cranberry, all on my soft, buttery roll. Yes, I know what I want in a roll.
This Thanksgiving, I also knew I wanted to make pumpkin rolls. I looked up Pumpkin Dinner Rolls in Donna Currie’s Make Ahead Bread, and while they sounded fantastic, I knew that, as written, they wouldn’t be as squishy as I wanted. So I adapted Donna’s recipe into a rich, brioche-esque, buttery dough. I added a fine dusting of freshly Microplaned Parmesan Reggiano for an even more savory, nutty kick, and these little guys were just about perfect. For Thanksgiving, I made 24 rolls and took 23 to Julie’s house. I’m not sure what happened to that 24th guy. I was a bit concerned that some of the teenagers might be sad about orange rolls for Thanksgiving, so we brought some King’s Hawaiian Savory Butter Rolls as back-ups. I am very pleased to announce that, not only did most of the teenagers devour more than one, we didn’t have to break out the King’s. Yay us, because we’re going to make The Best Poppy Seed Party Ham Biscuits with them. Huzzah!
So, if an endorsement by a passel of teenagers is a good indicator, these soft buttery pumpkin dinner rolls are likely to go over really well at your house, whether or not you have teenagers.
These are the very rolls I made for Thanksgiving. I didn’t want you to think I was kidding!
Soft Buttery Pumpkin Dinner Rolls
- 9.5 oz (1 cup) canned pumpkin (not pie filling)
- 3 oz (1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons) water (cold or room temp)
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 2 Tablespoons sorghum syrup or honey
- 8 oz (2 scant cups) bread flour (I use King Arthur)
- 8 oz (2 scant cups) all purpose flour (I use King Arthur)
- 1.25 oz (1/4 cup) malted milk powder**
- 1 1/4-1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 5 oz (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but not greasy
To Finish and Bake
- 2-3 Tablespoons of milk
- Parmesan cheese, (block, not the green can)
- Combine the pumpkin, water, yeast, sorghum syrup or honey, flour, malted milk powder and salt (in that order) in the bowl of your stand mixer. Mix with the dough hook until all the flour is incorporated. The dough will be pretty stiff at this point.
- With the mixer on medium low speed, begin adding the softened butter, about a tablespoon at a time, until it's all incorporated. Make sure one addition of butter is completely incorporated before adding the next. Once the butter is all in, you'll have a very soft dough/stiff batter. Knead on medium/medium-low speed for about 10 minutes.
- Pour/scrape the finished dough into a greased bowl. Spray the top with pan spray or brush with oil, cover and refrigerate overnight.
- The next day, remove the dough from the fridge and portion into 12 buns. Each will weigh right around 3 ounces. If you have a scale (and you really should) weigh the entire amount of dough and then divide by 12 and scale the dough accordingly.
- With oiled hands, shape each piece of dough into a smooth ball. Tighten it up a bit by rolling it between your hands on the counter. This doesn't work so well with this dough, so just do the best you can. Don't bother to flour or oil the counter. Just use your bench knife to occasionally scrape up any bits of dough that stick to it.
- Place the rolls about 1/2" apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. You could also place them in 3 rows of 4 in a parchment-lined 9"x13" pan. Spray the tops of the rolls, cover with plastic wrap, and let sit at room temperature until doubled in size. This could take several hours, especially if your kitchen is cold. The dough will spread more than it rises, but that's okay. All the dough balls should be touching and sort of stuck together by at least 1 1/2" on all sides (or the sides that are touching, anyway). To speed the process along, you can let them rise in a warm place, and if you run out of time, you can always refrigerate them and finish later.
- When you're ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350F.
- Brush the tops of the rolls with the milk and then Microplane some Parmesan evenly over them.
- Bake until golden brown. Some of the cheese will have browned too, but not all of it. This should take about 30 minutes. I baked mine for 15 minutes then rotated the pan and baked another 10 minutes. It depends on your oven. The internal temperature of the rolls should be 200F.
- Remove from the oven and cool on a rack until just warm. Serve them immediately or reheat once they're room temperature. Store cooled buns in freezer bags. I thaw mine for a few seconds in the microwave and then heat them for a couple of minutes in the toaster oven.
**You can also use dried milk powder in your rolls. I like the flavor the malted milk powder lends.
Shop This Recipe
Very few of the recipes I share require fancy equipment to make, but with bread, I tend to use my mixer as opposed to doing it by hand. Other than that and a good scale, I do have a few recommendations for this recipe, both for ingredients and equipment you might need.
The Beloved and I enjoyed a buttered soft buttery pumpkin dinner roll with thick, wonderful, sorghum syrup on it. The sweet with the nutty cheese and savory roll was pretty irresistable. My wonderful friend Lisa sent me four pounds of sorghum syrup, and you’ll see it turning up quite a bit around here over the next few months! Thank you, Lisa!
If you’ve never had sorghum before, it’s worth trying. It is thick like honey but tastes like a non-bitter molasses. If you have issues with molasses because it can be bitter, give sorghum a try. It is most excellent on rolls or biscuits or used as a molasses or honey substitute. Click on that cute jar down there to grab a pound from Amazon. This link and all product links (except for the King’s Hawaiian rolls) are affiliate links. I appreciate your support in helping me keep the lights on at PCO headquarters!
And there you have it: soft buttery pumpkin dinner rolls worthy of any holiday table. They sop up gravy with the best soft rolls out there, plus they’re a pretty color. You can certainly leave off the Parmesan cheese, but it goes beautifully with the pumpkin. I hope you enjoy them as much as we have. Twice.
Thanks so much for spending some time with me today. Take care, and have a lovely day.