I’ve got a little baking adventure for you! It involves yeast, pumpkin and spice, and pastry cream. Cranberries get all the glory come December but I’m not done with pumpkin just because pumpkin pie season is a few weeks past.
This is a weekend recipe. The sort you bake up on a late Sunday morning with an extra cup of coffee. There are plenty of steps to this recipe, and a good amount of whisking – but built in is also an hour or so on the couch to watch half of a Christmas movie while the dough rises.
Have I planned out your Sunday? I mean… in my little daydream about your life I certainly have. You’ll also be happy to know in your life there’s virtually no dirty laundry and very few dishes. You’re doing really well. Let’s just add these little pumpkin gems to the picture.
Here’s what you’ll need for these swirly pumpkin buns:
• Vanilla Pastry Cream. Don’t be intimidated. It’s just like making a stovetop pudding but you really give it a good long whisk as it boils to thicken it substantially.
• Pumpkin yeasted dough made with whole milk, eggs, and butter so it’s enriched, super soft, and makes for the most tender buns.
I had my pastry cream ready and chilling in the refrigerator. It’s easiest to make the pastry cream first and allow it to chill.
To bring together the pumpkin buns, start by warming the milk.
Melt the butter in the milk until it’s all just steaming.
In the bowl of a stand mixer add the pumpkin puree.
Add brown sugar and the warmed milk and butter.
Beat the mixture until well combined.
Add the egg and instant yeast and give the mixer a whirl until everything has come together.
Switch from the paddle attachment to the dough hook and begin to add the flour. Start by adding 1 cup.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add another cup of flour.
You’ll start to see the dough gather around the dough hook and pull away from the sides of the bowl.
I didn’t use all of the 2 2/3 cups the recipe indicates but I used a bit of the flour to dust the counter and hand knead the soft dough. See how your dough takes to it.
The fat in the dough will keep the dough soft and keep it from sticking to the counter or your hands. A moist but not sticky dough is what we’re going for.
Knead by hand for several minutes. This helps you get to know the dough and smooth it into a sweet little ball.
Lightly grease the mixing bowl, place the smooth dough in the bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rest in a warm spot for about an hour.
Once the dough is doubled, divide it into six equal pieces and roll each piece into a ball.
Place each ball on a parchment lined baking sheet and cover with a towel. Let the balls rest while the oven preheats.
The balls will puff slightly and that’s just right.
Brush each ball lightly with egg wash to help deepen that golden glow.
And a little swirl of pastry cream before they hit the oven!
Spoon chilled pastry cream into a pastry bag fitted with a thin round piping tip.
Slowly swirl pastry cream around each bun. One bun and you’ll get the hang of it.
Bake until puffed and golden all around.
It’s ok if the buns split along the sides as they bake. A bun has got to grow!
Once the buns are cool use a skewer or the handle of a skinny spoon to make a hole through the side of the bun into the center.
Gently but intentionally shove (that’s really the word for it) the piping tip into the bun and give it a little squeeze to deposit a few teaspoons (almost a tablespoon) of pastry cream into each bun.
Serve at room temperature with hot coffee.
The insides are soft and tender, each filled with a sweet bite of cream.
These are a second-breakfast or late afternoon dream. A bit of a project but an excellent way to procrasti-bake a few hours away – especially on a Sunday. Get your life and Happy Holidays!
Photos with dear friend Jon Melendez.Print
For the Pastry Cream:
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- pinch of kosher salt
- 4 large egg yolks
- 2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons butter
For the Dough:
- 1/3 cup whole milk
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
- 1/4 cup lightly packed light or dark brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg
- 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
- 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 large egg beaten with a splash of water for egg wash
- First make the pastry cream so it has time to cool in the refrigerator. In a medium saucepan bring milk, 1/4 cup of sugar, butter, vanilla, and slt to a gentle boil over medium heat.
- In a medium bowl whisk together cornstarch and remaining 1/4 cup of sugar. Add egg yolks to the cornstarch and mix into a smooth paste.
- Slowly, and in small amounts, whisk the hot milk into the egg mixture. Once the egg mixture is warm to the touch, whisk back into the pan.
- Return the custard to the stove and bring to a low boil over medium-low, whisking continuously for three minutes once the mixture boils. If you don’t go for the full time the pastry cream will taste like cornstarch and will separate so really give it a good whisk as it bubbles.
- Strain into a shallow container and cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pastry cream. Refrigerate until the buns are baked and cooled.
- To make the dough, warm the milk and butter together over the stove until butter is just melted and milk is steaming. You want the mixture to be a warm lukewarm (about 115°F), not scorching hot.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the pumpkin puree, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg, and salt together on medium speed. Add the warmed milk/butter and beat until combined.
- Beat in the egg and yeast until well combined.
- Turn off the mixer and switch from the paddle attachment to the dough hook. With the mixer running on low speed, add 1 cup of flour. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add an additional 1 and 1/4 cups more flour and beat for 3 more minute until the dough begins to gather around the dough hook. Add a bit more flour as necessary to create a soft but not terribly sticky dough.
- Turn the dough onto a lightly floured counter and knead for 4 to 5 minutes, until a soft and smooth dough emerges.
- Lightly grease the mixing bowl. Return the dough to the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest in a warm place until almost doubled in size, about 1 hour.
- After the pumpkin bun dough has nearly doubled in size, turn dough out onto a clean or very lightly floured counter. Knead for a few turns then use a bench scraper to divide the dough into 6 equal pieces.
- Roll each dough ball into a round and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Cover loosely with a clean kitchen towel and allow to rest for 20 minutes while the oven preheats.
- Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Remove the towel from the buns and brush each bun lightly with egg wash.
- Spoon cooled pastry cream into a disposable piping bag fitted with a Wilton #5 decorating tip. Carefully swirl a line of pastry cream across the top and down the sides of each bun.
- Bake buns for 16-18 minutes, until puffed and golden and they feel light when lifted off the baking sheet. Allow to cool to room temperature.
- Use a skewer or skinny handle end of a utensil to pierce the side of each bun. Carefully but firml shove the tip of the pastry cream bag into each bun and squeeze gently. We want to get about a tablespoons of pastry cream into each bun. It takes a little practice to see what you bun can hold. Any excess will come out the side when the pastry bag is removed and you’ll know better for the next bun.
- Fill each bun and enjoy! I kept these buns wrapped in the refrigerator and brought them to room temperature when serving the next day.