The Quest for the Perfect Pumpkin Cinnamon Roll

The quest for the perfect pumpkin cinnamon roll has commenced! It didn't start as a quest. I simply wanted to try a new pumpkin cinnamon roll recipe. I tried these last winter during the Snowmagedon of the DMV. They were really good-- but were they the best? This second attempt led to a third attempt and the more recipes I looked at, the more questions came to mind.

For starters, the glaze. The traditional cinnamon roll utilizes cream cheese. This makes sense with pumpkin; it's nice to have something smooth and cool on top of all that spice. One comment I recieved though was all they could taste was the cream cheese- it dominated the rolls.

A popular glaze for pumpkin cinnamon rolls is caramel. Caramel? Hm. It's essentially warmed brown sugar. The flavor is much more subtle and allows the pumpkin to speak its mind. I am torn between the two.

Another item is the filling. The way I have always made the filling is soft butter on the dough with some combination of brown sugar and spice. Simple and basic, makes sense to me. I only wish there was more gooey filling though, like the one's you find at Cinnabun. Maybe it's a matter of adding more brown sugar and butter.

I stumbled upon this weird junx by King Arthur flour: 'Baker's Cinnamon Filling.' What the heck is this stuff? It looks like gooey, rich paste. It comes from a jar and you 'just add water.' Reading that makes me feel like it's from the cartoon, ' the Jetsons.' My beef with the recipes on the King Arthur website is the specialty ingredients. Many of the items listed have a link for purchase. Fail King Arthur, fail.

Another option I found for the filling is to use a pastry blender on cold butter, similar to when you make a pie crust. You mix the dry ingredients together, and then cut in the cold butter until it is crumbly. I have yet to try this version, but I am interested to see if the butter would melt evenly or create a different texture. Anybody try this yet?

Now let's talk about the heart of the dough: flour. All purpose flour vs bread flour. 'Bread flour is a high-gluten flour that has very small amounts of malted barley flour added. The barley flour helps the yeast work, and the other additive increases the elasticity of the gluten and its ability to retain gas as the dough rises and bakes... All-purpose flour is made from a blend of high- and low-gluten wheats.' You can substitute all purpose for bread flour, and the bread may not be as glorious. But if you substitue all-purpose flour with bread... not so good. So which is ideal for a cinnamon bun? It's soft bread. I'm going to vote all-purpose, like in the monkey bread.

Finally... the pumpkin itself. The heavenly cheesecake taught me a trick I never thought of: sucking some of the moisture out of the pumpkin with paper towels. Why not do the same for a cinnamon roll? Maybe you need that wetness for the dough. But it makes me look at cooking pumpkin in a different light.

I settled with this recipe from GoodLife. I think it was good... but it's not the perfect pumpkin cinnamon bun. They are absolutely delicious when they are warm, so give them a quick zap in the microwave if you save them over night. They didn't last too long in my house and there was praise for the center. If you're looking for a solid pumpkin cinnamon roll, I would vote for this guy as well as the one form Snowmagedon.

Yet something was missing to make my heart sing, 'at last my long lost love.'

The quest continues!