Thursday, November 17, 2011

Recipe for Pumpkin Nutmeg Dinner Rolls

Pumpkin Nutmeg Dinner Rolls are perfect for Thanksgiving.

Yeast breads were rarely made at home when I was growing up. Rather, it was cornbread and biscuits that reigned. One or the other would be on the table — and sometimes both depending on the rest of the menu and how many people were gathered round. I don’t recall being taught specifically when to serve cornbread and when to serve biscuits. It’s one of those things you just know, I guess.

But even though the South does tends to be a quick bread region, yeast risen loaves do have their place. We ate commercial sandwich bread (called “light bread” in case you were wondering) because it was absolutely vital for tomato sandwiches. Necessary, too, for peanut butter. (We also ate peanut butter on biscuits, and some in the family even liked it on cornbread.)

Please do not call me a slider.
But for really special meals — such as Thanksgiving — our family would eat those “brown ’n serve” rolls, the ones with the split-top crust. We liked them and they seemed special in the way that store-bought things did at one time. The small package of one dozen rolls didn’t go very far. There were never leftovers.

At our high school, the ladies in the cafeteria made the most amazing yeast rolls. I’m sorry if you didn’t have a good school cafeteria. Not too long ago (and only a little back in the woods), small rural schools were able to cook from scratch. Each dinner roll was the size of your fist and the top glistened with melted butter. A brown top and fluffy insides, the dinner roll of dreams. I’ve never seen anything like them since.

A few years ago, I ran across the recipe for these Pumpkin Nutmeg Dinner Rolls which first appeared in Gourmet 1991. The buttery, nutmeg-scented dough bakes into a gorgeous golden-orange color. I look forward to making these rolls every year.

Something else I like is they are low maintenance as far as yeast breads go. One rising as a big lump of dough (and hour or so, depending on how warm your house is), then form the little rolls and let them rise before baking (maybe another hour).

It’s just the kind of recipe you could whip up Thanksgiving morning or prepare the night before and warm the next day. The rolls can be prepared even further ahead and frozen.

These little rolls would be fun as appetizer size sandwiches, either with leftover turkey and cranberry sauce or something else you might devise. I toasted one with a bit of English coastal Cheddar, then added hot pepper jelly and a mound of baby lettuces. Yum.

I hope you enjoy them as much as we do.

Pumpkin Nutmeg Dinner Rolls
adapted from Gourmet

Note: This recipe makes 14 good-sized dinner rolls, or 20-24 small ones.

one small package active dry yeast (or about 2 1/2 teaspoons)
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup milk, heated to lukewarm
7 to 8 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmet
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small bits
1 large whole egg, beaten lightly
2 cup pumpkin purée, or one can of pumpkin purée
1 egg yolk plus 1 tablespoon water for an egg wash

Proof the yeast in a glass measuring cup with 1 teaspoon of the sugar and the milk. Wait about 5 minutes, or until the mixture is foamy. In a large bowl, combine 7 cups of the flour, the nutmeg, the salt, and the remaining sugar. Blend in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the whole egg, the pumpkin purée, and the yeast mixture. Stir the dough until it is combined well. 

Turn the dough out onto a floured counter and knead, incorporating as much of the remaining 1 cup flour as necessary to prevent the dough from sticking, Knead for 10 minutes or until it is smooth and elastic. Form dough into a ball and transfer to a large, well-buttered bowl. Turn dough to coat it with  butter. Let it rise, covered with plastic wrap, in a warm place for 1 hour, or until it is double in bulk.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface, divide it into 14 pieces, and form each piece into a ball. Put dough balls into a buttered 10-inch springform pan and cover with a towel. (I used a 9-inch square pan which held 12 rolls.) Let the rolls rise in a warm place for 45 minutes, or until they are almost double in bulk. Brush rolls with the egg wash and bake in the middle of a preheated 350°F. oven for 40 to 50 minutes, or until they are golden brown.

Let the rolls cool slightly in the pan, remove the side of the pan, and serve the rolls warm. The rolls may be made 1 week in advance and kept wrapped well and frozen. Reheat the rolls, wrapped in foil, in a preheated 350°F. oven for 25 minutes, or until they are heated through.


  1. I just made pumpkin biscuits last week and loved them. AND bought yeast yesterday, with some pumpkin puree in the fridge. Do I? Well, of course I will.

    My the way, I want to return the kind compliment and show we're on the same page cause these do look delicious. So there; word police can now come after both of us.

  2. Barbara, thanks for stopping by. One must not let pumpkin purée go to waste!


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