Since I moved to Montreal, my roommate and I have gotten into this wonderful Sunday routine where we go running and then have brunch at one of the many delicious cafes on the Plateau. After running around outdoors in the fresh air, there is really nothing better than digging into some rich, delicious breakfast food. This weekend, we’re going on a little holiday to Quebec City so we decided to go for a run mid-week with one of our friends who lives near the Old Port.
In my opinion, the ideal brunch consists of something rich and savoury (preferably something eggy) along with something sweet (preferably a pastry). Since it was a Wednesday, this run-and-brunch adventure had to happen in the evening. Thus, we dubbed the occasion “reverse brunch”. Since I made both something eggy and something sweet, I’ll have dessert first and write the first of this two-part post about the “something sweet”.
Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls. Good God. Just the name sounds decadent and maybe just a little bit kitschy in its autumnal-ness. But since this recipe was from Smitten Kitchen, I knew that it just HAD to be good. Prior to this undertaking, the only cinnamon rolls I had ever made before were the pre-packaged Pillsbury rolls that come in a can so I knew that I was in for a bit of a challenge. I guessed right. I will forewarn you, dear readers, that this recipe is not for the faint of heart. However, the rewards will be great should you choose to power through with these. Trust me.
I started making these in the afternoon in order to refrigerate them for later. From the beginning, these cinnamon rolls were fighting me. It started with my attempt to make brown butter. I left my melting butter in the saucepan while I attended to other things thinking that it would all be fine and dandy. I returned to find not lovely, flavorful brown butter in my saucepan, but rather, some sort of infernal black ooze that smelled like death. I recoiled in mild horror
After cleaning up the heinous “black butter”, I started over. Now feeling rather timid, I instead just melted the butter and didn’t bother trying to get it to brown. Then, as I was assembling the dry ingredients, the contents of the shelf above me fell down as if possessed, only just barely missing my head. Feeling extremely flustered, I exasperatedly asked my roommate what half of “2/3” is. Yeah. That bad. Oy.
Then, I was manically mixing my dough and kept adding milk and adding milk, confused as to why it was so dry. I quickly realized it was because I hadn’t added the pumpkin. With all of these manifold incidents, I was seriously concerned that these cinnamon rolls were going to be an epic hot mess.
But somehow, I really don’t even know how, I managed to make an awesome smelling dough that was the right texture and everything. Although, side-note, mixing any dough with yeast without an electric mixer is HARD. The recipe said that it should be mixed with an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Lol. NO. My inspirational phrase for the evening became, “I am my own dough hook”.
When it came time to assemble the actual rolls, everything started to go very smoothly and my dough made the cutest of little pinwheels!
Pan of cinnamon rolls in tow, my roommate and I headed to the metro and down into the Old Port. After a beautiful run along Canal de Lachine and a wonderfully savoury egg dish (stay tuned for Part 2!), we popped these babies in the oven.
When my friends took the first bite, it was solid redemption. The looks on their faces said it all. I took a bite and non-ironically declared, “this is the best thing I’ve ever made”.
Really, this is the best thing I’ve ever made. It’s a bit of effort, but seriously guys, it’s worth it. If you make these, you will not be disappointed.
Without further ado, here is my adaptation of the recipe. Since I did not need such a large quantity of cinnamon rolls, I halved it. Although, I kept the full amount of the spices because I wanted them to have lots of flavor. I also used instant yeast instead of active dry yeast because it is simply easier to find here.
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup whole milk
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons brown sugar
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cardamom
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ cup pumpkin puree (I used the canned stuff, it’s great for baked goods)
1 large egg
Oil for coating the rising bowl (I used coconut oil)
1/3 cup brown sugar
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
a dash of salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 oz of cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon of milk
1 cup powdered sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Melt the butter in a saucepan. If you’re feeling ambitious, go ahead and brown that butter. It’s delicious but not mandatory.
Combine flour, sugar, salt and spices in a bowl. Use an electric mixer if you have one. Then slowly add about 2/3 of the butter to the mixture and mix until well-combined. Add the yeast, pumpkin and egg. If you’re using an electric mixer with a dough hook, mix it on low speed for five minutes. If you’re using good old fashioned elbow-grease, sweat it out for five minutes. Scoop the mixture into a large bowl that you’ve coated in oil and cover it with either plastic wrap or a kitchen towel. Leave it to rise for one hour. It seems like there ought to be something for you to do in this hour, but there really isn’t. You can just sit and ponder your life choices and wonder what it is that compelled you to make pumpkin cinnamon rolls in the first place. Or, you can watch your roommate enthusiastically make hummus with a magic bullet. It was delicious.
When the dough is done rising, line a 9-inch cake pan with aluminum foil. Scoop the dough onto a well-floured work surface and roll it out into an approximately 8 inch/6 inch rectangle. Then, spread your remaining melted butter onto the surface of the dough. Mix the filling and spoon it onto the dough.
Next, roll the dough into a log. Using a large, cerrated knife, cut it into sections about 1 inch thick. Arrange the adorable pinwheels of dough in the cake pan and spoon some of the filling on top.
When you’re ready to bake them, pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and bake for 25 minutes.
For the glaze, beat all ingredients together and adjust to your taste.
Then eat it. All of it. With your face.
Bonne Appétit, mes amis!