I was actually planning on doing just your ordinary cinnamon rolls, but when I saw PJ post about these pumpkin rolls, they were was too tempting to pass up! While you can certainly prepare this dough by hand as you would any other bread dough, I put our stand-mixer to work as I was busy working on another project at the same time.
The best part about that was all of the dough ingredients were just dumped into the bowl and brought together using the paddle attachment. You should note we used white whole-wheat flour as a part of the dry ingredients for its nutrition boost - if you don't want to buy that, you can either use completely all-purpose or even regular whole wheat flour. If you use the latter, expect the rolls to be a little more dense. As soon as the dough started to come together, I swapped the paddle for the dough hook and let it go until the dough was soft, supple and smooth. It is (and should be) on the sticker side, another bonus for using the stand mixer, and the dough will cling to the bottom of the bowl - however, it shouldn't be so wet that the dough doesn't hold its shape. Don't be afraid to adjust with water or flour as needed.
Left to rise until it had doubled in bulk, we turned the dough out onto our work surface and let it rest briefly before rolling it out into a large rectangle. You can dust the surface with flour to keep it from sticking if you wish, but because we didn't want to keep the rolls light and not add any more flour, we simply sprayed our counter with cooking spray - try it, it works well! The original recipe did call for a purchased filling mix, but it wasn't needed as a combo of granulated sugar and a liberal amount of fragrant cinnamon did the trick. To give the filling a unique twist, on top of that sweet bed of sugar, we scattered over chopped dried cranberries, along with a handful of minced crystallized ginger for zing.
Back to the original recipe, PJ rolled the log starting at the short end to end up with just a few big, fat cinnamon rolls. I wanted to stretch a few extra rolls out a bit, so we rolled the log up using the long side of the rectangle as our starting point. You can use a serrated knife to divvy the log up, but plain, unflavored dental floss works like a dream... just like a hot knife through butter! If you've never used it before, slide the floss under the log, crisscross the thread over the dough and pull the ends firmly to cut through - easy and no squishing of the dough!
I still ended up with twelve rolls that were plenty large - instead of baking them all together in a baking dish, I placed the rolls snugly in the wells of a muffin tin. They do need to rest once more before being baked, but the good news it it doesn't take quite as long as the first rise! Baked until the rolls pop up and brown, we took them out and let them cool off completely before drizzling on a smashing glaze made from confectioners' sugar, butter and milk. I waited for these spiral gems to cool because I wanted the striking contrast between the rolls and the glaze, but if you like, drizzle the rolls while they are still warm and it will slowly melt in.
Besides adding a subtle pumpkin flavor, that orange mash gave these rolls a moist, tender quality that we noticed right off the bat. I didn't mention it in the beginning, but the dough did flirt with a few spices in the dry ingredients to add to the richness - cinnamon, ginger and a touch of ground cloves were the ones we went with. You don't have to add the cranberries and crystallized ginger, but we thought the tangy, sweet heat those two wiggled in were just the right notes to play off the pumpkin essence in these rolls. Now, I'm one who unravels cinnamon rolls and eats them from the outside in, while Jeff decimates them by taking out big bites - how do you eat yours?
Cinnamon-Swirl Pumpkin Rolls