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Best Easy Pumpkin Pie Spice Pecan Sticky Buns

Pillowy and dreamy. Float away to happiness with these rolls that are as absolutely heavenly as they sound. These soft, delicate layers of lightly sweetened buttery dough are dotted with just a hint of toasted wheat germ to make it taste like a puffed-up super-soft graham cracker cloud of airy pumpkin pie goodness drizzled with caramel sauce you can stuff in your face. Too much? We don’t think so!
drizzling caramel pecan topping on top the cinnamon rolls

four caramel pumpkin pie rolls on a sheet pan in front of pumpkins

Pumpkin pie and pecan pie always seem to be the top picks for dessert at the Thanksgiving table. What if all the flavors of those pies could be captured in a fantastic swirl of spiced flavor-like frenzy embodied in a fluffy roll for your dining enjoyment? Breakfast, lunch, dinner, brunch, and every snack option and dessert buffet in-between would be fair game for these babies!

Behold, these rolls of glory are about to become your family’s most requested “yummy thing” that must always be made for Thanksgiving and every holiday close to it. 

This recipe features a method of yeast bread called Tangzhong.

Tangzhong is a yeast bread technique with origins in Japan and Asia. It involves cooking some of a bread recipe’s flour in liquid before adding it to the remaining dough ingredients. Milk is the most popular liquid used in this method. Bringing the temperature of the flour and liquid temperature to 65°C (149°F) pre-gelatinizes the flour’s starches, making them more able to retain liquid, thus enhancing the resulting bread’s softness and shelf life.

When used for sweet rolls, the result is a soft, pillowy texture and velvety crumb. You need this method in your life. Please don’t skip it. Please don’t change the recipe. Just accept that this is part of the magic.

Best Easy Pumpkin Pie Spice Pecan Sticky Buns

Ingredients

Tangzhong*

  • 1/2 cup (113g) whole milk
  • 3 Tbsp. (23g) Panhandle Milling Organic Bread Flour

Dough

  • 2/3 cup (151g) organic hazelnut creamer (or whole milk)
  • 2 1/2 cups (300g) Panhandle Milling Organic Bread Flour
  • 1 tsp. (6g) salt
  • ¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp. Red Star instant yeast
  • ¼ cup (57g) unsalted butter, melted
  • ¼ cup Viobin lightly toasted defatted wheat germ

Filling

  • ½ cup (107g) dark brown sugar, packed
  • ½ cup (113g) Libby’s solid pack pumpkin
  • 1 Tbsp. (8g to 10g) pumpkin pie spice

Caramel Nut Topping

  • 1 jar, 11.5 oz. Smucker’s Simple Delight® Salted Caramel Topping
  • OR caramel-flavored Spoon-able ice cream topping. Up to 12.5 oz.
  • 1 cup toasted pecans, toasted and chopped

Directions:

To make the tangzhong:

  • Combine the ingredients in a small saucepan and whisk until no lumps remain.
  • Place the saucepan over medium heat and cook the mixture, stirring regularly, until thickened, paste-like, and the spoon or spatula leaves lines on the bottom of the pan. This step should take 1 to 3 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat and transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer.

To make the dough:

  • Weigh your flour or measure it by gently spooning it into a cup and sweeping off any excess. Add the creamer, the flour, and the remaining ingredients to the mixing bowl in the order listed; the heat from the tangzhong will help warm the creamer.
  • Mix on low speed of a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment. Increase the speed by 8-10 minutes.
  • Shape the dough into a ball in a bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a reusable cover.
  • Let the dough rise until about doubled in size, about 60 to 90 minutes in a warm kitchen.

To make the filling:

  • Combine all ingredients for the filling in a small bowl until smooth.

To assemble the rolls:

  • Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled work surface and roll the dough into a 10″ x 12″ rectangle about 1/2″ thick.
  • Spread the filling over the dough, covering all but a 1/2″ strip along one long side.
  • Starting with the filling-covered long side, roll the dough into a log.
  • Score the dough lightly into eight equal 1 1/2″ to 2″ pieces, making large, saucer-sized cinnamon rolls. Cut the dough at the score marks. We use unflavored dental floss for the cleanest cut: pull off a long piece of floss, loop it underneath the log at the score mark, and pull the ends in opposite directions to cut the dough. Repeat until you’ve cut all of the rolls. Note a bench knife or sharp knife will work; be sure it is sharp and serrated is preferred.
  • Lightly grease a baking sheet or line it with parchment paper.
  • Place the rolls onto the prepared baking sheet, spacing at least 2″ apart and 2″ away from the edges of the pan. Tuck the ends of the spiral underneath the rolls to prevent unraveling during the rise and bake.
  • Lightly coat the top of the rolls with melted butter or oil, cover them with plastic wrap or a reusable cover, and let them rise for 45-60 minutes (depending on the warmth of your kitchen). They should be very puffy.
  • Preheat the oven to 375°F 20 minutes before you bake, and position a rack in the top third of the oven.
  • Bake the rolls for 15-20 minutes, until they’re a light golden brown, and a digital thermometer inserted into the center of one roll reads 190°F. Bake for less time for extra-soft rolls and extended time for rolls with a bit more color and slightly firmer texture.
  • Remove the rolls from the oven, place the pan on a rack, and brush the hot rolls with 1 ½ Tbsp. (21g) of the melted butter.

To make the caramel topping:

  • Combine the sauce with the toasted chopped pecans.
  • Scoop several Tbsp. Of the nut mixture over each roll allow the caramel to drizzle down the sides. Serve warm.

finished cinammon rolls on a sheet tray before adding topping