Introduction: Butternut Pumpkin Bread Rolls (Squash)

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I first had these bread rolls at thanksgiving a few years back and I thought they were the most adorable thing I have ever seen! I adapted one of my favourite dinner roll recipes to incorporate roasted butternut pumpkin to give them a more festive taste!

I love to give these as a small gift when we go to friends for dinner or for a gathering because they are so cute!! and very different.

They are a little bit time consuming but are totally worth it! Tiny adorable pumpkin shaped bread rolls... who wouldn't want one?!?!

Step 1: Ingredients

- 1/2 Cup of roasted butternut pumpkin puree (alternatively about 300grams of fresh butternut pumpkin and 1 tsp oil)

- 2 1/2 Cups plain flour (extra for rolling the dough)

- 2/3 Cups warm water

- 1 1/2 tsp Dry active yeast

- 1 Tbsp maple syrup of honey (I prefer the flavour of maple syrup)

- 3 tsp olive oil (plus extra to grease bowl)

- 1 1/2- 2 tsp salt

- Pumpkin seeds for decoration

Step 2: Equipment

- Large mixing bowl for electric mixer

- Electric mixer with dough hook attachment (optional, can do with hands too, but mixer is faster)

- Baking string

- Large tea towel

- 1 large mixing bowl (for letting the dough rise)

- Baking trays

- Baking paper

- Glad Wrap

- Scissors

- Wire cooling rack *optional*

If making own pumpkin puree:

- Baking tray

- Baking paper

- Food processor or Potato masher

Step 3: Make the Roasted Pumpkin Puree

In Australia it is very hard to fins pumpkin puree in a can so to make it yourself take about 300g of chopped butternut pumpkin (make sure they are relatively the same size for even cooking). Place the pumpkin on a baking tray lined with baking paper and coat the pumpkin with 1 tsp of olive oil and mix it all together with your fingers.

*Optional* you can also add some salt and pepper too, this will help season the pumpkin for the bread rolls later.

Bake the pumpkin in an oven preheated to 180 degrees Celcius (355 F) for between 25-35 minutes (depending on size of pumpkin) until it is cooked through and soft on the inside but slightly browned on the outside.

Then place the roasted pumpkin in a food processor and blend it until it is all smooth.

Step 4: Make the Dough

So for these incredible pumpkin rolls, it all starts with dough!

Start by placing the warm water, maple syrup and dry yeast in your mixing bowl and stir to combine. Let this sit to the side for at least 5 minutes or until the liquid starts to foam. (this is the yeast activating and producing bubbles to make your rolls light and fluffy, Yay!

Then add the pumpkin puree, oil and salt to the mix and stir it with a dough hook attachment until fully combined. (the liquid should be beautifully orange now!).

Finally while the mixer is on, slowly add the plain flour, allowing the flour be fully incorporated into the mixture before adding more.

You want a dough that is soft to the tough but does not stick to your hands.

*Alternatively you can mix the ingredients by hand to get to this point and then knead it for about 10 minutes (description in next step) *

Step 5: Knead the Dough

Now if you are using a standing mixer with a dough hook, you only have to kneed the dough for about a minute. If you are doing this all by hand you will want to knead it for at least 10 minutes to ensure the dough is 'worked' enough.

Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and place your hand in the centre of the dough 'ball' then press the bottom part of your palm (the part closest to your thumb) away from you (so that you can get your weight into it) . then fold the dough back onto itself, rotate the dough a 1/4 turn and then repeat until the dough all comes together.

*If the dough starts to become sticky add a little more flour while kneading.

Step 6: Let the Dough Rest

Take a new, clean mixing bowl and coat the sides of the bowl with some olive oil (this will prevent the dough from sticking while it is resting). Then place your ball of dough in the bowl and cover with glad wrap so that the dough is fully sealed in the bowl.

Allow the dough to rest for at least 2 hours in a warm room (preferably a room with no aircon) this will ensure your dough will rise and double in size, allowing the yeast to activate properly. If it is in a cold room it may take longer to rise or won't work properly.

Step 7: Divide the Dough

Once the dough ha doubled in size, place it on a lightly floured surface and knead it again, it should be significantly softer now (this is because the protein in the gluten has relaxed).

Then divide the dough into 8 equal parts, rolling them into similar shaped balls.

Step 8: Tie Up the Rolls

To make the adorable pumpkin shape what we need to do now is take some baking string and tie them up!

Take 4 equal length pieces of string (about 30-40cm) and arrange them over each other to resemble a spider web shape (a central point and 8 'sections' between the strings)

Then place the dough in the centre and take both sides of each piece of string and tie a loose knot over the dough. Repeat with the remaining string and dough * .

Once you have your sectioned pumpkin roll, cut off the extra loose string (cut just above the knots).

*IMPORTANT* do knot (haha bread pun - not) have the string too tight on the dough as the dough will expand quite a lot from this point and if you tie it too tight now the pumpkins will come out oddly shaped!

Step 9: Proof the Bread Rolls

Once you have all your mini pumpkins, place them on a baking tray lined with baking paper with a couple of centimetres between them to allow for expansion of the dough. Then place a large tea towel over the top of the rolls and let the sit for at least 30 minutes to proof (rest). The dough should expand slightly, and you will see that the string will make more prominent indentations in the dough.

Step 10: Bake the Bread Rolls

Once the rolls have proofed (this again allows the gluten proteins to rest and result in soft, airy rolls) bake them in a preheated fan forced oven at 180 degreed Celcius (355F) for between 15- 20 minutes or until they have a light golden brown colour.

Then allow them to cool completely (if you want them to cool quicker, move them to a wire cooling rack.)

Step 11: Remove the String

Once your rolls have completely cooled down (please do knot (hahaha pun again) remove the string when the bread rolls are warm as they can come apart). Take a pair of sharp scissors and cut away the string and pull downwards to the base of the roll. that way when you pull the string, if some of the roll comes off it will be at the base and wont be visible. Repeat with the remaining rolls.

Then at the top where all the knots were, place 2-3 pumpkin seeds, this makes it look like the cute little stem of the pumpkin.

Step 12: Serve!

Now you have adorable pumpkin bread rolls for any gathering wether it be Halloween, thanksgiving, Christmas or even if you just want some adorableness in your life!

I hope that you enjoy them!

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