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Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Orange Cream Cheese Icing

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Every other Friday, Yossy Arefi from Apt. 2B Baking Co. shares dessert projects that demand a little extra time and effort. Because your weekends should always be sweet.

Today: Cinnamon rolls like you have never seen them before: with pumpkin, cream cheese, and more cream cheese.

Chilly weekend mornings are made for cozy slippers, hot cups of coffee, and and these mega-indulgent cinnamon rolls. They begin with an egg- and milk-enriched dough stuffed with pumpkin and spice, but what really takes them over the top is a double dose of cream cheese.

First, cream cheese is folded into the dough to make it extra rich and tender, then the finished rolls are topped with an orange-cream cheese frosting. I wish I could take credit for the genius idea to laminate these cinnamon rolls with cream cheese, but alas, that credit goes to Julie from Always with Butter.  Now, these aren’t an everyday breakfast, but they are the kind of thing that’s special enough for a holiday treat. You can even prepare the rolls, freeze them, then bake them up later. I have a pan sitting in my freezer now  just waiting for the right occasion. 

For the Dough

2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup milk, warmed to 115° F
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 tablespoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3 eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup cream cheese, softened


Combine the yeast and the warm milk and let sit until foamy, about 5 minutes.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook combine the flour, sugar, spices, and salt. Add in the eggs, pumpkin purée, and yeast mixture. Mix until just combined, then add the butter. Mix the dough until well combined, then knead the dough for 5 minutes until smooth and elastic. The dough will stick to the bottom of the bowl, but resist the temptation to add more flour.

Transfer the dough to a clean, oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise until doubled in volume, about 1 1/2 hours at a warm room temperature.

For the Filling

1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cups unsalted butter
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon orange zest

When the dough is almost finished rising, prepare the filling by browning the butter in a skillet until it is golden and toasty. Let the butter cool slightly, then combine it with the brown sugar, cinnamon, and orange zest. Prepare two 8- or 9-inch baking pans by buttering or oiling them generously.

After the dough has risen, transfer it to a well-floured surface and pat the dough into a 12-inch square. Break up the cream cheese and gently spread it on top of the dough, being careful not to tear. Fold the dough into thirds, starting from the bottom so the cream cheese is completely sealed inside of the dough. Then roll the dough into a roughly 16-inch by 20-inch rectangle with the long side facing you, and dust off any excess flour with a pastry brush. Sprinkle the filling evenly over the top.


Starting from the bottom, gently roll the dough into a log. Use a serrated knife and use very, very gentle and even pressure to cut the log into generous 1-inch slices. Gently place the cut rolls into the prepared pans, cover, and let rise until almost doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Note: If you’d like to freeze some rolls to bake off at a later date, now is a good time to do it. Wrap the pan in 2 layers of plastic wrap and a layer of foil and freeze. To bake, let the frozen rolls come to room temperature and complete their final rise before baking.

Twenty minutes before you are ready to bake the rolls, preheat your oven to 350° F. Bake the rolls until they are cooked through and lightly golden, 20 to 25 minutes. 

For the Icing

1/2 cup cream cheese
1 cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted
3 tablespoons orange juice

While the rolls are baking, prepare the glaze by whisking the cream cheese, confectioner’s sugar, orange juice, and a tiny pinch of salt together until smooth.

Let the rolls cool for about 5 minutes before glazing and digging in. Be judicious with the glaze -- a little goes a long way.

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by Yossi Arefi

Tags: project dessert, cinnamon rolls, pumpkin, cream cheese icing

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