I think these cinnamon rolls have my mind in a twist, because my brain can’t seem to stay on a consistent track long enough for me to talk about them.
There’s soft, pillowy dough, spiced brown sugar filling, an irresistible cream cheese drizzle… How can you think around that? I knew when I started out making these that I was stepping into dangerous territory, so I guess now I’m living with the consequences of a sweet-roll-boggled mind. It’s definitely worth it.
I’m clearly one of those people who goes pumpkin-crazy during the fall. Last year I baked it into cutesy sandwich cookies, caramel-drizzled scones, classic muffins, and an epic bundt cake. And this year… I’ve just been baking cinnamon rolls after cinnamon rolls after cinnamon rolls. I started out with a bang and then I didn’t want to move on, because these pumpkin spice cinnamon rolls are everything I dreamed they could be and more, andddd I think I’m a little obsessed. Just a little.
Remember my Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls? Those were how I knew that these would be amazing. And you guys? These are sooooo amazing. The rolls are perfectly soft and doughy (as the ultimate cinnamon roll ought to be), and filled with an intoxicating blend of pumpkin and warm fall spices. The spiced brown sugar-cinnamon swirl in the middle is pure, rich, sweet heaven, and when it gets all melty and buttery in the oven it transforms into something glorious. And then… there’s the cinnamon cream cheese drizzle. I tried to resist it – like, really tried – but I’m so glad I didn’t because it’s the icing on the cake (or the drizzle on the cinnamon rolls, ya know). It’s a little tangy like the perfect cream cheese frosting, but it’s also bursting with sweet cinnamon and vanilla flavor. It’s pretty fantastic.
You better bet that the cinnamon rolls we ate here had twice the amount of cream cheese drizzle as the ones in the pictures. If you’re going to go for it, you go for it. End of story.
These soft, doughy Pumpkin Spice Cinnamon Rolls are swirled with a Spiced Brown Sugar Cinnamon Filling and finished with an incredible Cinnamon Cream Cheese Drizzle. They're the perfect way to cozy up for breakfast on a fall morning!
- 6 3/8 ounces (3/4 cup) milk
- 1 3/4 ounces (1/4 cup) granulated sugar, divided
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 2 ounces (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground all spice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 3/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 12 ounces (1 1/2 cups) canned pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
- 6 3/8 ounces (1 1/2 cups, spoon and level) whole wheat flour
- 1 lb 2 ounces (4 1/4 cups, spoon and level) bread flour, divided
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 5 ounces (2/3 cup, packed) brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- pinch of ground all spice**
- pinch of ground ginger**
- pinch of ground cloves**
- pinch of ground nutmeg**
- 1 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
- 3 tablespoons milk
- 1 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
- 9 ounces cream cheese
- 3 7/8 ounces (1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon) granulated sugar
- 2 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- Pour the milk into a microwave-safe measuring glass and microwave for about 1 minute and 30 seconds, until the milk reads 180º on an instant read thermometer. Allow to cool to 110º-115º. Stir in 1 tablespoon of sugar to dissolve, and then sprinkle the yeast on top. Stir in gently with a wooden spoon. Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes, until the yeast activates and the mixture develops a foam on top. Meanwhile, melt the butter in the microwave and allow to cool until no warmer than 115ºF.
- Transfer the yeast mixture to a large bowl. Slowly stir the remaining 3 tablespoons sugar, melted and cooled butter, egg yolks, cinnamon, all spice, ginger, cloves and nutmeg into the yeast mixture with a wooden spoon, breaking up the egg yolks as you stir and ensuring that the spices are evenly dispersed. Add the pumpkin and mix in until smoothly combined. Add the whole wheat flour, 12 3/4 ounces (3 cups, spoon and level) bread flour, and salt and mix together until a dough begins to form. Once you have most or all of the ingredients clumped together in a large ball of dough, turn it all out onto the counter or another kneading surface. Knead by hand for 10-15 minutes, until you have a soft and elastic dough, incorporating as much of the remaining 5 1/4 ounces (1 1/4 cups, spoon and level) bread flour as needed to prevent the dough from getting stuck to your hands or the kneading surface. The dough will still be quite tacky, so don’t add more flour than necessary; you might not need it all.
- Shape the dough into a ball with a smooth top. Lightly grease a bowl about twice the size of the dough with nonstick spray and place the dough inside, turning once to coat the top with spray. Cover with greased plastic wrap and leave the dough to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours.
- Grease a 10” x 15” baking pan with non-stick spray. Lightly flour a surface for rolling out the dough. In a small bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, cinnamon, all spice, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg for the filling.
- Gently punch down the dough and roll out to a 11” x 18” rectangle with one of the 11” sides towards you. Rub the 3 tablespoons softened butter all over the top surface of the dough until you’ve used up all the butter (it will seem like a lot, but don’t skip it!). Sprinkle the filling evenly over the surface of the dough, using your hands to gently spread it out if needed. Starting with the end closest to you, roll the dough up into a tight log, with the seam at the end rolled underneath the dough when you finish. Use a knife to lightly score the top of the log into 12-15 equal pieces*. Cut rolls along scored marks with a knife, or preferably, a long piece of dental floss (not the threaded kind). To do this, slide floss under the dough and loop it around the log, crossing the ends at the top to pull the floss through the dough. Place the cut cinnamon rolls in the prepared pan with the smallest ones towards the outside and the larger ones in the center (the rolls cut from the center of the log will inevitably be larger). Arrange the rolls so that the seam at the end of each is touching another roll or the edge of the pan, preventing the rolls from loosening.
- Cover the rolls tightly with greased plastic wrap and leave to rise another 40-50 minutes at room temperature, until very puffy, or place in the refrigerator overnight if baking the next morning. If refrigerating the rolls overnight, take them out the following morning and leave at room temperature for 1 1/2 hours. They should have puffed up enough to fill in most of the gaps in the bottom of the pan, although they may not look very puffy or doubled in size.
- When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350ºF with an oven racked placed in the middle position. Just before baking, brush the rolls with 3 tablespoons of milk. Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes, just until they’re very puffy and a toothpick inserted into a piece of dough near the center of the pan comes out clean, or until the internal temperature reads 190º-200ºF. Brush the rolls with 3 tablespoons melted butter immediately after they come out of the oven. Serve warm with cinnamon cream cheese drizzle. Rolls can also be kept in an airtight container and reheated in the microwave for about 25 seconds each.
- Place the cream cheese in a bowl and microwave for 20-30 seconds, just until soft. Beat with a whisk to smooth out as best as possible. Add the sugar, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and salt and whisk the mixture until it’s smooth (feel free to pop it back in the microwave for a few seconds if needed to get it smooth). Place in a piping bag fitted with a small round tip (I used Wilton 230), or a ziploc with one corner tip snipped off, and drizzle over the rolls before serving. The topping can also be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use.
*You can make 12-15 cinnamon rolls with this recipe depending upon how large you want them to be. The rolls you see in the photos were a batch of 12.
**For the filling, use a regular or heavy pinch of each spice depending on your taste preferences
***There will be enough of the Cinnamon Cream Cheese Drizzle to use twice the amount on each roll as you see in the photos. Trust me, you’ll want it that way. ;)