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Pumpkin Bread Rolls

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Look no further for the perfect Thanksgiving bread! Friends, meet (the cutest!) Pumpkin Bread Rolls. This is a pumpkin bread dough, formed into rolls, wrapped in string to form that pumpkin shape and baked to golden perfection. Similar to Sweet Potato Rolls, Plain Potato Rolls or even a Dinner Roll, but way more festive.

pumpkin bread rolls on a serving plate with greenery

Pumpkin Bread Rolls: Perfect for Thanksgiving

When I was first testing this recipe, I just about died because they were so stinking cute! Delicious? Yes. Easy to make? Yes. Time consuming? Yes. So freaking cute I just about died? Also yes. They are made with a simple bread dough that is laced with pumpkin and then formed into pumpkins using oiled kitchen twine. Baked to perfection, then topped with a pretzel rod, these will make your Thanksgiving guests go nuts.

How to Make Pumpkin Bread Rolls

Before you begin, its important to understand that these are a labor of love. They will take about 3 hours start to finish. The hardest part of this recipe is all the waiting. Truly, that’s the most annoying part. Everything else is relatively simple to do. So grab a partner, friend or child and get baking!

Proof Your Yeast

The first thing you’re going to want to do is to stir your active dry yeast together with warm water and 1 teaspoon of granulated sugar in a liquid measuring cup. Set aside 10 minutes to proof and bubble up. While all yeast does not require you to proof it first, I like to ensure it is alive and well before I start making the dough.

Form Pumpkin Bread Roll Dough

In a large bowl, add remaining sugar, melted butter, egg and pumpkin. Stir to combine, then add in the proofed yeast mixture. Using a large spoon, stir in 2 cups of all purpose flour. Dough will be sticky. Keep adding in flour, bit by bit, until it becomes difficult to stir using a spoon. Start kneading with your hands, sprinkling in flour as needed until it is smooth and slightly sticky. It should feel tacky, but not stick to your hands. This process should take about 6 minutes.

*DO NOT pour entire amount of flour onto dough and try to knead it in. YOU WILL get a tough, dry dough. Just go little by little to get the texture you’re looking for.

dough risen in a glass bowl with plastic wrap over the top

Allow Dough to Rise

Place dough into a well greased bowl and roll around to coat. Cover gently with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap and rise 1 hour or until doubled in size.

While Dough is rising, cut 48-8 inch long pieces of kitchen twine. Add to a bowl and toss with vegetable oil generously. I like to also spray with cooking spray for extra insurance. Set aside.

Form Pumpkins with Bread Dough

Remove dough from bowl and cut into two even pieces. Replace one half back into the bowl and cover. Using a bench scraper or knife, evenly cut dough into six pieces. Take one piece of dough and form a smooth, round ball. (It’s ok if the bottom doesn’t look very good!)

Arrange four oiled strings on a cutting board or clean counter to form a star (think 2 X’s, one right side up, the other turned on its side, but with all the strings intersect in the center; see photos below.)

Place dough ball into the center of the strings, smooth side down. String by string, tie each string into a snug double knot across the bottom. Tie it so it is tight, but not tight enough to make the dough bulge. Snip any extra ends after tying. Place rolls knot side down onto prepared baking sheets.

Continue this process until all pumpkin rolls have been formed. Cover rolls gently with plastic wrap and rise 30 minutes or so.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Another Way to Form Pumpkins With Bread Dough

While I much prefer the string method for creating these cutie little pumpkins, you can also get a similar result using kitchen shears (scissors). Here’s how to do it: take your risen bread dough and divide evenly into rolls. Form into round roll shapes and flatten slightly. Cut 7 slats evenly around the circle. Place onto baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and rise for 30 minutes before baking.

Bake Pumpkin Bread Rolls

With a preheated oven ready to go, transfer the puffed pumpkin bread rolls to the oven and bake 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and the interior of the rolls registers 190 degrees F.

Do I Have to Add An Egg Wash Before Baking?

No! No egg or milk wash is necessary. Actually, I suggest NOT adding one because it makes removing the strings a lot more difficult and it messes with the finished product. So, no egg wash necessary!

unbaked pumpkin bread rolls rising for the second time on a parchment paper lined baking sheet

Cool Rolls Slightly and Remove the String

After the rolls have come out of the oven, cool 10-15 minutes or until you can handle them easily with your hands. Using sharp scissors, snip the string at the top of the rolls and peel the strings back until you reach the point where the bread has baked over the string. Holding the roll with one hand, pull each string straight down out of the roll. (It might take some practice, but you’ll get the hang of it.) Brush off any crumbs with your fingers.

Add Pretzel Rod Stems

Once all the strings have been removed, add in a pretzel rod to complete each roll. Serve at room temperature with any Thanksgiving or other meal you have planned. Delicious!

Freezing Directions

You can freeze any yeasted breads baked or unbaked. To freeze these Pumpkin Bread Rolls unbaked, you simply form them into pumpkins by tying them up with string and immediately putting them onto a parchment paper lined sheet tray in the freezer. You do not want them to have their second rise until you are ready to bake. Once the rolls have solidified, transfer them to a ziptop freezer bag and store for up to 3 months. To bake, simply remove frozen rolls and defrost on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. After 4-5 hours, rolls should have defrosted and risen. Bake according to recipe directions for fresh and delicious rolls!

To freeze these rolls after they have been baked, after you have removed all the strings, transfer rolls to a ziptop freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months. To defrost, transfer to the fridge for 24 hours, then gently microwave on 50% power for 20-30 seconds (depending on the strength of your microwave). Alternately, you can place all rolls onto a baking sheet and warm for 20 minutes at 250 degrees F.

What to Serve with Pumpkin Bread Rolls

While butter is the obvious choice, a delicious alternative would be a homemade honey butter. I love my version because it has vanilla, sea salt and cinnamon added to it. (Orange zest is also delicious added in!) If you’re wanting to know what main courses would be good choices, here are some great options:

pumpkin bread rolls on a parchment paper lined baking sheet

Other Thanksgiving Favorites

Since I touted that these would be fantastic for your Thanksgiving table (they really would be!) here are some other delicious choices to add to your holiday meal. You can also browse the best Thanksgiving recipes I have curated over the years here in my recipe archive.

Anyways, I hope you come to love this recipe as much as I have! It’s a labor of love, but make for such a memorable holiday. Enjoy, friends!

pumpkin bread rolls on a serving plate with greenery

Pumpkin Bread Rolls

Instructions

  • In a liquid measuring cup, stir warm water together with yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar. Set aside 10 minutes to proof and bubble up*.

  • In a large bowl, add remaining sugar, melted butter, egg and pumpkin. Stir to combine, then add in the proofed yeast mixture. Using a large spoon, stir in 2 cups of all purpose flour. Dough will be sticky. Keep adding in flour, bit by bit, until it becomes difficult to stir using a spoon. Start kneading with your hands, sprinkling in flour as needed until it is smooth and slightly sticky. It should feel tacky, but not stick to your hands. This process should take about 6 minutes. *DO NOT pour entire amount of flour onto dough and try to knead it in. YOU WILL get a tough, dry dough. Just go little by little to get the texture you’re looking for.
  • Place dough into a well greased bowl and roll around to coat. Cover gently with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap and rise 1 hour or until doubled in size.While Dough is rising, cut 48-8 inch long pieces of kitchen twine. Add to a bowl and toss with vegetable oil generously. I like to also spray with cooking spray for extra insurance. Set aside.
  • Remove dough from bowl and cut into two even pieces. Replace one half back into the bowl and cover. Using a bench scraper or knife, evenly cut dough into six pieces. Take one piece of dough and form a smooth, round ball. (It’s ok if the bottom doesn’t look very good!)Arrange four oiled strings on a cutting board or clean counter to form a star (think 2 X’s, one right side up, the other turned on its side, but with all the strings intersect in the center; see photos below.)
  • Place dough ball into the center of the strings, smooth side down. String by string, tie each string into a snug double knot across the bottom. Tie it so it is tight, but not tight enough to make the dough bulge. Snip any extra ends after tying. Place rolls knot side down onto prepared baking sheets. Continue this process until all pumpkin rolls have been formed. Cover rolls gently with plastic wrap and rise 30 minutes or so.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • With a preheated oven ready to go, transfer the puffed pumpkin bread rolls to the oven and bake 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and the interior of the rolls registers 190 degrees F.

  • After the rolls have come out of the oven, cool 10-15 minutes or until you can handle them easily with your hands. Using sharp scissors, snip the string at the top of the rolls and peel the strings back until you reach the point where the bread has baked over the string. Holding the roll with one hand, pull each string straight down out of the roll. (It might take some practice, but you’ll get the hang of it.) Brush off any crumbs with your fingers.

  • Once all the strings have been removed, add in a pretzel rod to complete each roll.

Nutrition

Calories: 160kcal | Carbohydrates: 31g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 5mg | Sodium: 212mg | Potassium: 43mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 60IU | Calcium: 6mg | Iron: 1.6mg

Course: Breads
Cuisine: American
Keyword: pumpkin bread rolls, pumpkin dinner rolls

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