Pumpkin and Pecan Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing

3/30/2019 04:42:00 PM

Pumpkin and Pecan Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing. Light and airy pumpkin bread wrapped around a sugary-buttery-toasted-pecan filling, full of warm autumnal spices and slathered with tangy cream cheese icing. They're like a cozy hug in bun-form! These are literally one of the best things I have ever baked and I hope you enjoy them too!

Pumpkin and Pecan Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing

I've been wanting to post this recipe for ages. I made these rolls back in December last year, and they were so good that I couldn't wait to share the recipe with you! But then there was our Christmas trip to Germany and Paris, and when we got back at the start of the year it got really really hot, and I was thinking that these are more of an autumn recipe. Then Summer seemed to hang around for ages, with high temperatures through most of March. Well guess what, it's autumn! It's finally started to cool down for the year, and I know soon we'll all be complaining that it's cold and windy and rainy and dark, but for now your consolation is here, in the form of these pumpkin and pecan cinnamon rolls with cream cheese icing.

Pumpkin and Pecan Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing

This recipe is a mash-up of two Bravetart / Stella Parks recipes - I used the recipe for her Yeasted Pumpkin Bread, but rather than baking it in a loaf or as dinner rolls, I went the whole hog and turned them into cinnamon rolls. I used the filling and icing recipe from her Overnight Cinnamon Rolls, with some minor adaptations - boosting the quantity of pecans, and adjusting the spices to give it more of a pumpkin pie vibe. I later learned that Stella has an end-to-end recipe for pumpkin cinnamon rolls in her book, which is a little different to this one, but I can't see myself making those. The yeasted pumpkin bread is just too good, and the combo is too perfect. I'll want to make this again and again!

So let's take a look.

Dough ingredients

The dough is a standard bread dough, with pumpkin purée added, providing moisture, colour, and a mild pumpkin flavour. One thing to note is that this dough has to be made in a processor. It's quite a bit stiffer than regular bread dough, and according to Stella, trying to use a stand mixer to develop the gluten in this dough sufficiently would either break the mixer, or would produce significant heat / oxidisation and ruin the dough.

Having said that, it comes together quite easily in the processor, and only takes a couple of minutes to get to the right stage.


Basically, you process the ingredients until they come together into a pliable dough, and then do the "windowpane" test. When you can stretch a small section of dough into a thin translucent sheet without it breaking or cracking, then it's ready. If it breaks, then keep processing it in twenty-second bursts until you can pass the windowpane test. My dough took about two minutes in total.

Windowpane test

Then you roll it out into a thirty-three centimetre square. (Don't be intimidated by the measuring tape; it makes things so much easier to follow an exact measurement and not to be relying on guesswork!)

Dough square

Then you cover it in a butter-sugar-spice mixture and chopped toasted pecans...

Dough and filling

...and roll it up! Stella has an amazing trick for cutting the soft dough - using a piece of kitchen twine! Just place the dough on top of the twine, cross the ends over, and pull sharply. It cuts the dough much more cleanly than a knife, with much less squishing.

Use a string to cut the dough into rolls

Look at those beautiful spirals!

Ready for the oven

I baked the rolls in two pans - one 25 centimetre cast iron pan (because pretty!), and a slightly smaller round enamel dish. However for ease, in the recipe I have suggested 2 x 20cm round tins, or a large 22 x 33 cm rectangular dish. (I do love the idea of a big batch of these rolls in a large pan, being plonked on the table for people to share as part of, say, a brunch party or afternoon tea).

Once they're baked, slather on the cream cheese icing and just INHALE. As a cream cheese icing-enthusiast, I never understood the point of the thin layer of cream cheese icing on cinnamon rolls, but now I get it. The cream-cheese icing softly melts into the warm buns, adding just the right notes of sweet, tangy, and gooey against the crisp tops of the buns and the crunchy pecans.

Pumpkin and Pecan Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing

When I made these last year, it wasn't for any occasion. Sandra was overseas working, and I had a free Saturday at home before dinner with friends, so thought I'd embark on a little baking project. Once they were done, I took some photos, but I wasn't planning on eating any as I didn't want to ruin my appetite for dinner. But they smelled and looked so good, I thought I'd better try one while it was still warm. Well, dear friends, it was one of the best things I'd ever eaten in my whole life, I shit you not. Woweee! The soft, pillowy dough, the warming spices, the crunchy sugary edges from where the sugar and nuts had caramelised on the pan, the sweet yet tangy cream cheese frosting melting into the buns - it was just perfection.

Crunchy edges...

I packed two up and immediately drove over to my parents' house so they could partake in the deliciousness. I also packed up two more for my friend Alaina (who I was having dinner with that night) and then rushed off to dinner. And the remaining seven buns? Well... they were definitely all gone by the end of the week.

Pumpkin and Pecan Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing

Give these a go! I hope you like them as much as I did!

Pumpkin and Pecan Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing
Pumpkin dough recipe from Bravetart's Yeasted Pumpkin Bread, Filling and Icing adapted from Bravetart's Cinnamon Rolls

For the pumpkin dough
455 grams bread flour
9 grams salt
7 grams dry yeast
340 grams pumpkin purée, canned or homemade
55 grams maple syrup
55 grams butter, melted
For the filling
130 grams pecans
115 grams softened unsalted butter
170 grams light brown sugar
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 gram salt
For the cream cheese icing
115 grams cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
120 grams icing sugar

For the dough
Place the bread flour, salt and yeast in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the double blade. Pulse a few times to combine. Add the pumpkin purée, maple syrup and butter, and process until the dough becomes a smooth ball. This should take 75 seconds to 2 minutes. To test if the dough is ready, pull a small piece off and stretch - if it breaks, it needs to be processed for longer, so process for another 20 second burst and test again. It is ready when you can stretch it into a thin, almost translucent sheet.
Remove the dough from the processor and form into a ball. Place into a lightly-oiled bowl, cover with clingfilm, and allow to prove until doubled in size. (1-2 hours on a mild day; it will be faster the hotter the weather is).
For the filling
Place the pecans in a dry frying pan and cook over a medium heat until toasted and fragrant. Remove to a chopping board, allow to cool slightly and then roughly chop. Set aside.
Place all the ingredients for the filling in a mixing bowl and beat until smoothly combined. You can use a mixer or a wooden spoon, I think this is easier to do with a wooden spoon). Set aside.
To make the cream cheese icing
Place the softened cream cheese in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and add the vanilla extract. Sift in half the icing sugar and then beat slowly to incorporate. Sift in the remaining icing sugar and beat on a medium speed until silky smooth and pale. Set aside. (If you're doing this in advance, transfer the mixture to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate. Before icing the buns, bring it back up to room temperature - and even microwave it briefly - to get the creamy texture back).
To assemble
Once the dough is proved, punch the dough to remove the gas (hehe), and turn onto a working surface. You can lightly flour the surface if you feel nervous, but I found that with the oil from the bowl, and the butter in the dough, the dough didn't stick to my board. (And no flour also makes for easier clean-up).
Pat the dough out into a rough square, then roll out into a 13 inch / 33cm square. (Lift up the dough every now and then to check it's not sticking).
Take the spice-and-butter filling mixture and spread it evenly over the bright orange dough with an offset spatula. Sprinkle the pecan pieces evenly over the dough.
Roll the dough up to form a log, and end with the seam-side down.
Take a piece of kitchen twine and place it under the middle of the log. Pull tightly from both ends to cut the dough. Using the same method, cut each log into 6 even slices. (You can use a knife if you don't have kitchen twine but it is more likely to squish the dough and result in messier buns).
Prepare your baking dish by rubbing it with a little butter. (You can use either one 22x33cm rectangular baking pan, or two 20cm round cake pans). Arrange the beautiful spirals evenly in your prepared pan(s). Cover with foil and allow to prove for 1 hour, or until risen, expanded and puffy. (Again, the colder your room is the slower this will be, so timing may vary). You could also give it an overnight rise in the fridge.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 175C.
Keeping the pan covered with foil, bake for 45 minutes, or until the rolls are further expanded, and the dough is firm but still pale. Remove the foil and bake for a further 15 minutes until golden brown.
While still hot, spread the icing evenly over the buns and then just go to town.
Makes 12 rolls, serves 1-12 people

  • Due to the stiffness of the dough, it has to be made in a processor, it won't work doing it by hand or in a stand mixer.
  • If it makes timing easier, you can do the second rise in the fridge overnight. 

Have you made this recipe? Leave a comment below! Tag me on Instagram @sarahcooksblog and hashtag #sarahcooksblog

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