There simply is nothing more pleasing and delightful than the fragrances that waft from the kitchen during the autumn months, especially as the days cool and the warmth of our Wolf range hard at work is so welcomed! We love cooking and baking… period! There is, however, something euphoric about baking fresh breads and rolls during these cooler fall days that induces a nostalgic longing to relive those youthful memories of hearth and home that make the kitchen particularly inviting and personal during this season. Our thoughts drift with anticipation to the upcoming holiday festivites, our minds filled with thoughts of the guests who will be joining us around an abundant table laden with copious amounts of delectable fare! We’ve been planning our Thanksgiving menu for weeks now. If we were to prepare all of the dishes we’re been contemplating this year there would be enough food on the table to feed at least fifty! Since there will be four of us enjoying the day together we still have a lot of paring down to do!
One favorite that makes an appearance each Thanksgiving by popular demand is our Herbed Pumpkin Rolls. Filled with aromatic fresh herbs these dinner rolls, which I do as a cloverleaf, fill the kitchen with heavenly hints of tarragon and basil during the 20 minute baking time. By the time the pan is pulled from the oven, the rolls, warm, fragrant and golden brown, cannot be resisted… a taste test must be done immediately! While piping hot, one roll is gently lifted from the pan and pulled apart into sections which fill the air with fragrant steam. My preference is to slather each section with a dab of sweet creamery butter and slowly savor the exquisiteness of each bite…!
Herbed Pumpkin Rolls
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
In a small bowl or measuring cup add and set aside to proof:
1/4 C warm water
1 T active dry yeast
pinch of golden brown sugar
In a small saucepan over moderate heat, scald:
2/3 C milk
Transfer the scalded milk to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle and add:
1 1/3 C pumpkin puree (I used the reserved puree from the roasted Cannonball pumpkin. However, canned pumpkin or roasted butternut squash puree can be alternately used.)
Beat until smooth, then add, scraping down the sides of the mixing bowl as necessary:
2/3 C packed golden brown sugar
1 tsp salt
4 T unsalted butter, melted
1 T fresh chives, minced
1 T fresh dill, minced
1 T fresh tarragon leaves, minced
1 T fresh basil, julienned then coarsely chopped
1 tsp ground white pepper
Add the proofed yeast and mix well. Slowly add, a little at a time, to make a pliant but not stiff dough:
4 1/2 – 5 C all-purpose white flour (Experience has taught me that using roasted and pureed pumpkin or butternut squash has more moisture than canned pumpkin so the greater amount of flour will be necessary for the roasted and pureed vegetables.)
Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface using a plastic scraper:
Generously flour the dough and knead, adding more flour as necessary, until the stickiness of the dough has disappeared. The easiest way to work this particular dough, since it is so moist, is to turn and fold it upon itself utililizing the plastic scraper rather than your hands, adding flour to the board as the flour is incorporated into the dough. Do not overwork or add too much flour! The dough will be ready for rising when the sticky sheen has disppeared. Note, however, that it will still be quite moist!
Place the prepared dough into a large oiled bowl and turn to coat with the oil. Cover the bowl with film and allow dough to rise in a warm draft-free place for about 1 hour. While the dough is rising grease a muffin tin with the capacity to hold 24 rolls… or two pans that will each hold 12.
Baker’s Note: I’ve discovered that placing the bowl inside of a Dutch oven on the back of your stovetop works wonderfully well. The warmth coming up from the heated oven is distributed beautifully around the bowl which should be covered with a kitchen towel as well during the rising period.
When the dough has doubled in bulk, punch it down and turn out onto a floured surface. Divide the dough in half, diving each half into three equally sized pieces for a total of 6. Each of the six pieces will make four cloverleaf rolls, for a total of 24. Keep your fingers and hands well-floured during the shaping process if you don’t want to be frustrated with sticky fingers while you form each leaf! This process is probably the most time consumptive of the whole baking process so if you have a willing helper please extend an invitation to join in… the reward will be worth the effort!
Cover with a cloth and allow to rise for about 30 minutes, or until dough has risen above the edge of the pan. Bake the rolls for 20 minutes, until risen and golden. Remove from the oven and brush with melted butter:
Remove hot rolls from pan and place on a cooling rack. Serve warm… Bon Appetit!
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