Saturday, November 26, 2011

Pumpkin Dinner Rolls

Last year at Thanksgiving was the first time Rob and I hosted.  Granted, it was only for us and my mom and brother, but we wanted to put out a nice, traditional, Thanksgiving meal.  That said, I thought it would be a good idea to have fresh dinner rolls to go along with the dinner.  I picked out two recipes: plain biscuits and sweet potato biscuits.  This is one example of how I should NEVER experiment with a new dish as I'm preparing to serve it.  So if you walk away with anything you read here, take this:  ALWAYS experiment in advance to avoid mishaps.

Yes, the biscuits were a disappointment.  They came out OK... except they had no real flavor to them.  And I guess because they were biscuits, they seemed on the heavy side.

Keeping last year's defeat in mind, I decided to make different rolls - and I specifically went for dinner rolls, not biscuits.  I figured dinner rolls would be lighter in general.  As I did last year, I picked out plain rolls and winter squash rolls.  Silly me, I didn't learn my lesson from last year.  On Wednesday night, yes, the night before Thanksgiving, I'm preparing the dough for the new rolls.  At first everything seemed to be fine.  I even sampled the dough and it tasted great.  I was really looking forward to making this with the dinner. 

My plan was to make the dough, allow time for it to rise, knead, then place in the fridge overnight so it could rise again.  Then sometime before dinner the next day I'd roll them into balls and stick them in the oven.  It seemed like a great plan. 


When I took the dough out of the fridge and started rolling dough balls, the dough seemed kinda heavy.  But, I figured they'd bake/cook and come out fine on the other end.  Wrong!

After keeping the rolls in the oven for the exact amount of time the recipe called for, I took them out.  I picked up the first roll and it was as heavy as a hockey puck.  I was dumbfounded.  I split it open and the inside was completely raw.  Rob came by to examine them and he saw how undercooked they were.  He picked them up and made some comment about how they could be used as a weapon.  Right.  Foiled again by stupid bread!

So both Rob and my mom tried assuring me that it's ok to have an Achilles' heel when it came to cooking/baking.  Rolls were clearly mine.  However, I wasn't satisfied to go along with it.  I had to know exactly where I failed.

The next day I set out to make another batch of rolls.  This time I just went with a half batch of Winter Squash Rolls - for which I used pumpkin.

I followed the recipe exactly as it was written.  It had one difference between what I did on Wednesday night and what I was doing then: on Wednesday night after letting the dough rise the first time, I stuck the dough in the fridge.  This time, I allowed the dough to rise (for the second time) at room temperature.  THIS MADE THE ALL THE DIFFERENCE.

This was where I failed the first time.  Apparently sitting in the fridge prevented the dough from rising properly.  What I should have done was allow the dough to sit out and warm up to room temp. then allow it to rise again.  But I didn't.

Anyhow, I'm thrilled to announce that I can make delicious dinner rolls!

I got the recipe here from


1 1/2 cups cubed winter squash
1 cup scalded milk
2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
6 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup shortening


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). In a small saucepan, cover squash cubes with water. Bring to a boil and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain, cool and mash.               

In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. In a large bowl, combine 5 cups flour, sugar and salt. Stir in the yeast mixture, shortening, squash and milk. Mix well. Stir in the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and supple, about 8 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

Divide the dough into twelve equal pieces and form into rounds. Place the rounds in a lightly greased 13x9 inch baking pan. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise until doubled in volume, about 30 minutes.

Bake at 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.               


These rolls are fantastic!  As I mentioned above, be sure to follow the directions exactly for allowing the dough to rise or you will end up with winter squash lead balls.

I chose to use pumpkin puree for mine and they were delish.  Generally speaking, I prefer to use either the pureed pumpkin or frozen butternut squash.  Cutting, cleaning and cooking the actual squash is a real pain.  Make your life easier and go for the already pureed stuff.  It will still taste great.

Instead of the shortening, I used real butter, melted down.  When it comes to making breads, I prefer to use real butter instead of Crisco or lard.  I mean...ick. 

Finally, I used an egg wash on the roll.  I took one egg, lightly beaten, and I brushed it over each roll.  It gave the rolls a nice shine. 

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