The 10 Days of Pumpkin

Day Three:

Whole Wheat Pumpkin-Pecan Cinnamon Crowns

I have always loved mom and pop bakeries. As a child growing up in the Cincinnati area, little did I know that I was in mom and pop bakery heaven. Cincinnati still has bakeries with coffee cake schedules, so you know which day of the week you can get your favorite flavor. They still offer cinnamon rolls shaped like crowns.

So it's no wonder that when it came time to write my first novel, I set it in a bakery. And what's even better about fiction is that I could put whatever goodies I wanted in the bakery display cases.

The Cake Therapist just had to offer a really great cinnamon roll at her fictional bakery, Rainbow Cake.

Happily, I had written a cinnamon roll cookbook a few years earlier. (It's a little book, which makes it great for gift-giving. Maybe add a jar of Vietnamese cinnamon, and you've got a charming hostess or holiday gift.) Fifty different cinnamon rolls, all delicious. And there's one that is perfect for fall.

Whole Wheat Pumpkin-Pecan Cinnamon Crowns start with a whole wheat dough, then gets a pumpkin pie filling with cinnamon pecan streusel on the top. Instead of rolling the dough up into a cylinder, you roll it out and cut it into squares. You put each square of dough into a muffin cup, and then dollop in the filling and top with streusel. 

These crowns would be wonderful for a fall weekend breakfast or for Thanksgiving. I would make the dough the night before and let it sit in the refrigerator. In the morning, I would let it come to room temperature, then make and bake the crowns. 

I am doing a video class for Craftsy, based in Denver, that will be up and running in early December 2015. You could also give this class as a gift--maybe with I Love Cinnamon Rolls!  Because you watch the instructor from your computer, you can take this class anywhere!

Now, back to the crowns. . .

Whole Wheat Pumpkin-Pecan Cinnamon Crowns 

Rise and shine for a cold weather brunch dish that makes you happy! You will have some leftover pumpkin filling with this, but you can pour it into a buttered baking dish and bake it along with the rolls until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Bake these in batches, and nibble as you go.

Makes 36

Whole Wheat Cinnamon Roll Dough
The addition of whole wheat flour gives these rolls a slight more textured, nutty flavor. Let the dough sit for 30 minutes after mixing, as the whole wheat flour takes longer to absorb liquids. Vital wheat gluten or whole grain dough improver can be found in the baking section of better grocery stores (Bob’s Red Mill) or online at places like
Makes 6 jumbo, 12 large, 16 to 20 medium, or 46 mini-cinnamon rolls
3/4 cup (175 mL) whole milk
¼ cup (60 mL) honey or agave nectar
¼ cup (60 mL) vegetable oil
1 teaspoon (5 mL) salt
2 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups (195 g) whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups (188 g) all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
2 teaspoons (10 mL) vital wheat gluten or whole grain dough improver
2 1/2 teaspoons (12 mL)  instant or bread machine yeast
1. In a 4-cup (1L) measuring cup, combine the water, honey, vegetable oil, and salt. Microwave on High for 1 minute or until warm. Whisk in the eggs.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment , place the flour and yeast. Add the liquid ingredients. Mix on low speed, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl from time to time, until the dough forms a soft ball and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 5 to 6 minutes.
3. Remove the paddle attachment and switch to the dough hook. With the mixer on low, start kneading the dough with the dough hook.  Sprinkle with a tablespoon of flour, every minute or so, to keep the dough from sticking to the sides of the bowl. When the dough is smooth, not sticky, and springs back when you press it with your finger, you’ve kneaded enough (about 3 to 5 minutes). Let the dough rest in the bowl for 30 minutes.
4. Place the dough in a large, oiled mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place at room temperature (about 70 to 75 °F /21 to 24°C) for 45 to 60 minutes or until it has almost doubled.
At this point, you can refrigerate the dough overnight, let the dough come to room temperature, and make the crowns.  
Or, proceed with the crowns right away.

Spray the muffin cups with cooking spray or cut small squares of parchment paper and line the cups.

Pumpkin Filling:
1 (15-ounce) pumpkin puree (not pie filling)                
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk  
1 large egg   
Cinnamon Pecan Streusel:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup packed light or dark brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
½ cup chopped pecans
¼ cup unsalted butter, softened

1. For the filling, whisk the pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk and egg together until smooth. Set aside.
2. For the streusel, combine the flour, sugars, cinnamon, salt, and pecans in a medium bowl. Work in the butter with a fork or your fingers until the mixture forms crumbs. Set aside.
3. Transfer the dough to a floured surface. Cut the dough into fourths.  Roll each fourth to a 9-inch  square. Cut the dough into 3-inch squares. Arrange each square in a prepared muffin tin. Place 1 tablespoon pumpkin filling and 2 teaspoons streusel in each dough-lined muffin cup. Cover with tea towels and let rise in a warm place until almost doubled, about 45 to 60 45 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

4. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes or until the crust has lightly browned and the filling is firm.

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