Pumpkin cinnamon rolls, gluten-free

I’ve been making these for the past couple weeks to be absolutely sure of the recipe (oh, darn, lots of sampling); it takes some time and ingredients. I’ve been holding out on you because I want you to succeed. I’d rather be an untimely pumpkin in the sea of holiday cookie recipes than post a hasty recipe. Alas, toss this in the to-try next season when squash and gourds come back or pull out your frozen puree.

You can use any kind of squash puree. I bet you could even use sweet potato. Let me know how it goes if you try.

Of the times I’ve made these rolls:

1. Each time they’ve turned out differently. (Thanks yeast!)

2. The pumpkin flavor for the most part disappears, even if you double the amount called for in the recipe.

3. Blue ballet squash (a denser, squashier puree) retained most squash-like flavor.

4. Each attempt was a success, entirely delicious and all gobbled up in short order.

5. I realized that more butter is better. These are a treat, not a health food.

Gluten-free Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls Recipe

makes about 15 rolls, depending on the size you cut them

with inspiration from Coconut & Lime

1. Sprinkle the contents of two yeast packets, which is 1/2-ounce Active Dry Yeast over 1/4-cup warm water (no warmer than 105 degrees F)  and set aside.

Set out on the counter 4 Tbs unsalted butter (for the rolling part of the evening) and allow to come to room temp while you prepare the dough.

2. In a large mixing bowl combine:

  • 1 cup white rice flour
  • 1 cup sweet rice flour
  • 1/4 cup + 1Tbs arrowroot starch or tapioca starch/flour
  • 2 Tbs flaxmeal
  • 1 Tbs oat flour (grind your GF rolled oats in the food processor)
  • 2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/2 tsp salt

(OR sub all above for 2-1/2 cups gluten-free flour mix, like Pamela’s Bread & Flour mix)

  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice (which is ~10 berries if you’re grinding in a mortar in pestle, fun!)
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves

3. Combine the following with whatever mixing technology you have, hands or mixer. If using a mixer, use the paddle attachment:

  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup pumpkin puree (or any other squash puree, strained if watery)
  • 1 egg, at room temp
  • yeast mixture 

4. Add the flour & spice mixture to the mixer bowl in 1/2 cup portions until incorporated fully. If your dough is really sticky and cakelike, add tablespoons of arrowroot or tapioca until it lumps together more like a ball of bread dough.

5. Spread two large pieces of parchment paper out on the countertop. Dump your dough onto one of those pieces. Place the other piece on top of the dough and roll it out into your best version of rectangle (or long oval-ish shape) until the dough is 1/3” thick. When rolling, try your best to periodically stretch out the bottom piece of parchment to make sure there aren’t too many creases and folds.

6. Whip your now room-temp 4 Tbs butter into a creamy, spread using an icing tool or whatever most resembles that fine piece of equipment. Spread butter evenly over your rolled out dough.This dough was a bit stickier than I ought to have gone with, which made spreading the butter interesting, but not impossible.

7. Combine in your empty flours mixing bowl (or a new one if you’re hell bent on making more dishes):

  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (or ground nutmeg is okay, fresh spices just rock)

Sprinkle the mixture over the butter to form an even layer so no butter is showing any longer.

8. Now, for the fun part. Roll it up by picking up the edge of your parchment paper and gently coaxing the dough to roll. If it sticks just guide it by the parchment and peel the paper off, like so:

Don’t worry too much about perfection here because you’ll have a chance to make each roll tighter and more perfectly round once you cut it. If there are any impossibly sticky spots where dough stuck to the parchment, just pinch some arrowroot or tapioca flour and gently un-stick the situation with your starch floured fingers.

Note: it’s much easier to peel parchment from the top of the roll, like pictured above, than to pull and roll dough away from the bottom lining of paper.

9. Grease 2 8- or 9-inch round or square cake pans with the leftover creamed butter bits in your bowl. Cut the roll into whatever sized individual rolls you’d like. I cut mine to about 1- to 2-inch sections. Gently re-roll each to tighten up the roll and form a circle. (Do this on your parchment paper, not in the air.) Set rolls on the greased pans with at least 1/2-inch space around each roll.

10. Let rise with just the pilot in your gas oven, or turn your electric oven to 200, turn off, wait 5 min and place rolls in the off oven, for 1 hour. Do some dishes!

11. Remove rolls from oven, preheat to 350 degrees F, bake for 7 min in the center of the oven, rotate pan and bake for another 7 min or until the dough is fully cooked.

Use your fave cream cheese icing or other icing recipe to totally knock the socks off yourself and everyone who encounters these delicious treats. Keep un-iced rolls in an airtight container at room temp for up to 3 days.