It's been a while but I'm back in the bread game!
After a summer of being lazy and only making no knead English Muffins, it was really time to dust off my kneading skills and make bread again. In the past, I've had difficulty with pumpkin breads because they tend to be too dense and doughy versus soft and fluffy. But this time around, they turned out exactly as I envisioned them to be—pillowy clouds with a sweet and cinnamon filling and in the shape of mini pumpkins.
I usually associate pumpkin cinnamon type breads with Thanksgiving and my mom as she usually makes it on this day of eating. This ended up turning into a practice round to make sure I could live up to her bread standards as I happily volunteered to try it out this year.
This is a shape idea inspired by these Scallion Buns from last year but with a fall twist and taste. It takes a bit of time and rhythm to get the shape down but the end result is a beautiful knot with cinnamon filling peeking through the edges.
Pumpkin Cinnamon Knots
Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen's Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
Yields: 16 rolls
If knots are too complicated, these can also be shaped into rolls or a bread loaf.
¼ cup warm water
1 teaspoon sugar
2¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
6 tablespoons butter
½ cup milk, warmed
1 large egg
¼ cup packed brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
⅔ cup pumpkin puree
3½ cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading and rolling
Oil for coating rising bowl
1 tablespoon butter, melted and cooled
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 egg beaten with a splash of water for brushing on top
Mix warm water and sugar in a small bowl or cup. Sprinkle yeast on top and mix with a fork. Set aside to proof for 10 minutes.
In the meantime, mix together butter, milk, egg, both sugars, nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, salt and pumpkin puree in a large bowl until thoroughly combined. Stir in the proofed yeast. Slowly add flour, ½ cup at a time until a shaggy dough forms. Dump out on a floured work surface and knead for 8-10 minutes, adding a small amount of flour as needed, until a smooth and elastic dough forms. Place the dough in a warm, greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap and a damp towel. Set aside to rise for 1-1.5 hours or until the dough has doubled in size. Punch down the dough and shape into a ball again for a second rise.
After the second rise, knead the dough a few times and divide into 16 even pieces. Shape these pieces into small balls and cover loosely with a damp towel to prevent them from drying out. For the filling, mix both sugars, cinnamon and nutmeg in a small bowl.
Take one dough ball and roll in into an oblong oval. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with the filling mixture. Using a sharp knife, make 6-8 vertical within the dough, being careful not to cut the dough into strips. Take the top and bottom and roll inwards on a diagonal until the dough meets in the middle. Continue to twist inwards, following the natural curve of the dough and tie into a knot, tucking both ends on the bottom. Place on a lined baking sheet. Continue with the rest of the dough.
Set aside in a warm place for a third rise, about 30-45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Brush the top of each with egg wash. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until the buns are golden brown on top.
Best eaten warm out of the oven or set to cool on a wire rack.