These pumpkin cinnamon rolls with maple-apple filling are healthier than your average roll, made with whole wheat flour and no refined sugar, but they're soft and full of tasty fall flavor.
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If you're from North America, you might not be aware that cinnamon rolls are a distinctly American thing. That's not to say there aren't similar things in Europe - the UK has Chelsea buns which I loved now and then when I was younger, and Scandinavia has cinnamon buns.
I've been meaning to make some myself for longer than I can think, and finally got round to it with these pumpkin cinnamon rolls with maple-apple filling. These were definitely worth the wait - so wonderfully moist, flavorful, but healthier than your average cinnamon roll with whole wheat flour and no refined sugar.
If cinnamon rolls are typically American, then given the obsession with all things pumpkin this time of year here, pumpkin cinnamon rolls must be another step up from that.
While I'm not necessarily in to pumpkin spice everything, I do like using actual pumpkin in recipes (or other winter squash) as you may have seen with the pumpkin gnocchi and pumpkin empanadas I shared last week for pumpkin week.
How they're made
I won't lie, pumpkin cinnamon rolls do take a little bit of time if you make them in the traditional way. Between allowing the yeast to bubble up, kneading the dough, the two rises and rolling and cutting them up it all takes a bit of time.
However none of it is that difficult and there's a fair bit that's hands-off. Plus, the nice bit is you have the option to do the work the day before and then all you do is take them out, let them do a final rise and then bake them the next day. In other words, these work really well if you are hosting brunch. And even if you're not, the delicious result of these pumpkin cinnamon rolls is definitely worth it, in my mind.
These pumpkin cinnamon rolls make a delicious snack, brunch or any excuse you want to make to have them. Gently spiced, with a tasty apple-y filling, there a definite taste of fall. And best of all, they're pretty healthy so you have every excuse to have another one.
Try these other sweet rolls:
- Eggnog cinnamon rolls
- Golfeados (Venezuelan cheese sticky buns)
- Swedish cardamom buns
- Plus get more breakfast and brunch recipes in the archives.
Pumpkin cinnamon rolls with maple-apple filling
For rolls dough
- 1 tsp instant yeast approx ½ a ¼oz/7g packet, also called fast acting yeast
- ¼ cup water 60ml, warm
- 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour 250g
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
- ⅛ tsp ground ginger
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter 1oz/28g melted and cooled
- ⅓ cup pumpkin puree 85g from can or fresh, but if can NOT pumpkin pie puree
- 1 egg
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 apple large
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 2 tbsp cream cheese
- ½ tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water, set aside for approx 5-10min to allow it to 'bloom' and start to foam.
- Meanwhile, mix together the flour, salt, cinnamon and ginger in a large bowl (or if you want to use a stand mixer to knead, put them in the mixer bowl) Separately, mix together the butter, pumpkin, egg and maple syrup.
- When the yeast has started bubbling, add the yeast mixture and the pumpkin mixtures to the bowl with the flour and mix well. Turn the mixture out onto a well-floured surface and knead for approx 5 mins until it becomes less sticky. Alternatively, if you are using the stand mixer, put all ingredients in the mixer bowl, mix well then continue for approx 5min with the dough hook. In both cases, the dough will be pretty soft but should become less sticky - you may need a little more flour.
- Put the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with cling wrap/film and set aside to rise for about an hour in a draft-free place. It should roughly double in size.
- While the dough is rising, make the filling. First melt the butter in a pan over a medium-low heat and peel, core and finely chop the apple. Add the apple to the pan and cook for approx 5min until the apple becomes soft. Sprinkle in the cinnamon and mash the apple a bit until almost a paste. Add the maple syrup and remove form the heat. Set aside to cool until ready.
- After the dough has risen, tip the dough onto a floured surface and roll out into a square or rectangle approx 10x12in/25x30cm. Carefully spread the apple mixture over the dough in a thin layer, leaving a slight gap without the filling on two opposite edges (this will be the very center and outside edge).
- Prepare a pan to put the rolls in - approx 8x8in/20x20cm in size or equivalent. You can line it if you like (with parchment paper) or just brush with oil/butter (though they may stick a little).
- Carefully roll up the dough along one of the less-covered edges in to a log shape. Finish with the join on the bottom. Using a serrated knife, carefully cut the roll into slices, around ⅔in/2cm thick by putting very little pressure on the knife as you saw through the log of dough. You should get around 16 small-ish rolls. Transfer the slices to the dish, leaving a little bit of a gap between the slices. Cover the dish with cling wrap/film.
- Either set aside to rise again for around 45min or place in the fridge overnight. If opting for overnight, take them out around 1hr before you will be baking to warm through and rise.
- Shortly before ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350F/175C. Uncover the rolls and bake for approx 25min until lightly brown.
- Allow them to cool a few minutes before removing from the pan. Meanwhile, mix up the frosting by beating the cream cheese until it is smooth, then add the butter and maple syrup and mix in well.
- Spread the frosting over the tops of the rolls and enjoy. Any leftover will keep a couple days in the fridge.
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