Wow. So being sick sucked. And if that wasn’t enough, when I finally slowed down on the coughing and sniffling, I opened my computer and found I had about 140 student assignments to grade.
Awesome. Can I go back to bed?
It seems that being sick can never actually happen at a good time. Like, that lull in the semester when nothing’s really going on, my students are working independently, and there are no assignments hanging over my head to be graded. No. Sick happens when papers roll in. When my students are confused. When they really need me to be standing in the front of the classroom, answering questions, jabbering on about short stories and concise writing.
Sick + work stress = no bueno.
But last weekend, I made the loveliest recipe ever, the kind that makes the sick and the stress not feel as bad. You know how once Starbucks comes out with pumpkin spice lattes, it’s fall, no matter what the temperature outside? Yeah. I love it. I love this time of year. I keep waiting for the weather to match the leaves changing on the trees, the cravings for cider and spice and warm, warm soup. It’s just around the corner, I know, and before I can get my light jacket on and head outside, it’ll be winter and legitimately cold. We’ll be moving from cinnamon and pumpkin to mint and chocolate.
But for now, it’s fall. For now, it’s pumpkins.
I got a pie pumpkin from my CSA grab bag a couple weeks ago. I had never actually used one of these, and I’ll be honest: it was cool, it’s a nice experiment, but I’d just as soon use the canned stuff. I’m all for going with the “fresh is best” tag line, but that was a lot of effort for not a lot of payback. I noticed no real difference in taste between using canned pumpkin and fresh. Sorry, pumpkins. From now on, I think you’re going to be decoration.
When we got the pumpkin, Amanda started throwing out ideas: bread, pie, soup. Cinnamon rolls. (Ding!)
I searched for recipes and found a simple one on the blog My Baking Addiction with a maple cream cheese glaze. You could use fresh or canned pumpkin in it, and one of the commenters included an idea for making them into overnight cinnamon rolls so she could bake them for breakfast without having to get up at the crack of dawn to start her dough rising. That’s how I did mine, and they were fantastic: with the exception of the whole fresh pumpkin thing, they were so simple to make, kept like a dream in the fridge overnight (where they did their second rise, albeit slowly), and after letting them come to room temperature in the morning, I baked them for thirty minutes, threw some glaze on them, and made all my friends hate me by posting photos on Facebook.
I’m including the tweaked version of the recipe that I did, plus a link back to the original page. I’m also including a link to Alton Brown’s overnight cinnamon rolls, which is a great little guide on how to handle prepping the dough the night before and then baking them in the morning.
Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
Recipe from My Baking Addiction
For the Dough
1 cup canned pumpkin or squash (for help on how to use fresh squash, here’s the guide I used)
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup lukewarm water
1/4 cup soft butter
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour
1/4 cup nonfat dry milk (I used 1/2 cup lowfat liquid milk)
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice 
3 tablespoons brown sugar, light or dark
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons quick rise yeast
*Adjust the amount of water by the time of year or your climate. For summer, or in a humid environment, use the lesser amount of water. In winter, or in a dry climate, use the greater amount. It’s always best to start with the lesser amount; you can always add more. (I needed the full 1/4 cup in my rolls).
For the Filling
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice 
1/2 cup chopped pecans
For the Frosting
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup pure maple syrup (I used Grade A)
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice 
1. Mix and knead all of the dough ingredients together — by hand, mixer, or bread machine — until you’ve made a soft, fairly smooth dough.
2. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl, and allow the dough to rise for about 1 1/2 hours, until it’s almost doubled in bulk.
3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly greased surface. Roll it into a 14″ x 22″ rectangle; the dough will be pretty thin.
4. Use a pastry brush to brush the melted butter onto the top of the dough. In a medium bowl, mix together the filling ingredients and sprinkle them onto the butter creating an even layer, leaving one short edge free of filling (about 1 inch).
5. Starting with the short end that’s covered with filling, roll the dough into a log.
6. Cut the log into nine 1 ½”-thick rolls.
7. Place the rolls into a lightly greased 9″ x 9″ pan that’s at least 2″ deep. Set aside, covered, to rise for 1 hour, or until the rolls look puffy. [Dana Note: if you want to do overnight cinnamon rolls, put the pan in the fridge instead of leaving out to rise for an hour. In the morning, when you get up, leave the pan out on the counter for about half an hour to come to room temperature. Then bake as detailed below.] [Another Dana note: I needed a 13″ x 9″ pan for these because I couldn’t get the dough to roll out so thin. Worked just fine.]
8. Bake the rolls in a preheated 375°F oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until they’re lightly browned and feel set. Remove them from the oven, and set them on a rack. Turn them out of the pan, and allow them to cool for about 15 minutes. Towards the end of the cooling time, make the glaze.
9. To make the glaze: In a medium bowl with an electric mixer, combine the cream cheese, butter, maple syrup, confectioners’ sugar and pumpkin pie spice. Mix on low speed until thoroughly combined and creamy. Feel free to adjust the frosting to meet your needs. If you like a thinner frosting, add in a little milk (start with 1 teaspoon) and slowly increase until you reach the desired consistency. If you want it to be thicker, add in a little more confectioners’ sugar.
These cinnamon rolls bake up light, fluffy, and the maple cream cheese frosting is the perfect blend of sweet and tangy to set off the pumpkin. I can attest to the following: they keep for several days, and soften up nicely in the microwave; your office-mate will love you if you bring one to her, especially if she, like you, has recently come down with viral plague; if you post pictures on Facebook, people will admire the photos but hate you for not sharing; this recipe makes plenty, so feel free to share!