Perfectly pumpkiny pastries

It’s officially fall. While that means your kids are settled in their school schedule again and leaves will change, it also means gourds are all around. There are pumpkins at the grocery store, blow up play structures being set up around the area for satellite patches and farms on the coast all boasting beautiful gourds in various colors.

Even coffee and beer in San Mateo County get a hint of pumpkin this time of year, so why not add a little fall spice to a breakfast treat? We’re not going healthy this week, but it will be a delightful splurge—pumpkin cinnamon rolls.

Courtesy of, this recipe does take some time. We’re spending an evening doing most of the work so breakfast will be freshly made—and baked!—in the morning.

Start by stirring 1 package of dry yeast into ¼ cup warm water to soften. Let the mixture rest for 5 minutes. Add 1/3 cup warm milk, 1 large beaten egg, ¾ cup pumpkin puree – which can be fresh or canned, 1 tablespoon melted butter, 2 cups of all-purpose flour, ½ cup brown sugar, 1 teaspoon of salt, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon of ground ginger and a ¼ teaspoon of ground cardamom to the yeast mixture and beat vigorously for two minutes. Slowly add in flour, a little at a time, until you have dough that’s thick enough to knead.

Turn dough out on a floured surface. Knead, feel free to add flour if needed, until your dough is smooth and elastic.

Put dough into an oiled bowl. Turn it once to coat the ball with oil. Cover the bowl with a towel and let it rise until doubled, which should be an hour.

Take a moment before making the filling to learn about the cinnamon roll. Sweden has a national Cinnamon Bun Day—It’s coming up on Oct. 4, by the way—because that’s where the first one was made. In Sweden, unlike here, the cinnamon roll is less sweet and heavy. Instead, the dough contains a hint of cardamom, a ginger-like spice, baked in muffin wrappers for a delicate treat.

If you’re giving the original a try, ask for kanelbulle, which literally means cinnamon bun.

Cinnamon rolls are one of those things that can be changed from person to person or by country. America has a version known as Philadelphia-style, which date back to the 18th century and contains honey, sugar, cinnamon and raisins.

While the dough is still rising, start making the filling.

Once you restart, combine 2/3 cup white sugar, ¼ cup brown sugar, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, ½ teaspoon of each allspice and ginger, ¼ teaspoon of nutmeg and 1/8 teaspoon of cloves in a small bowl then set aside.

Transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface, and pat or roll it into a 16×12 rectangle. Spread softened butter, about one stick, over the dough then sprinkle the sugar mixture. Roll the dough into a log. It should stretch to about 20 inches long as you roll it. Using a very sharp knife, slice the log into 15 pieces. It can help to rinse your blade in hot water first, wiping it in between slices.

Cover with a towel and let rise until almost doubled, about 45 minutes. Or, you could allow the dough to rise overnight and bake in the morning, your call.

When it’s time to bake, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bake the rolls until they’re brown around the edges and begin to turn golden brown across the center, about 20 to 30 minutes.

While baking, it’s time to make the delicious frosting topping. Add 4 ounces of cream cheese, 1 stick of butter softened, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and ¾ teaspoon of lemon juice into a small food processor. Blend until smooth. Then add 2 to 3 cups of powdered sugar ½ cup at a time, blending in between, until well mixed. In this instance, less might be more.

Frost rolls while warm and eat IMMEDIATELY. Really, who would be able to wait anyway?


Published by Chef Gigi Gaggero, Host of Silicon Valley's LIVE Food Talk Radio on KSCU 103.3 FM

Professional Chef, Two Time Award-Winning Book Author, Former Academic Director from Le Cordon Bleu, and Host of Silicon Valley's LIVE Food Talk Radio on KSCU 103.3 FM

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