Pumpkin Challah Rolls
ARE YOU KVELLING YET.
I mean. 😍
I can’t imagine a lovelier dinner treat to share with your guests this season.
Yes, those little pumpkins are actually traditional challah rolls!
Yes, they taste as good as they look.
And yes, I was just as surprised as you are when this crazy pumpkin challah roll idea really worked.
We were so enamored with these little guys, we even took them on a walk to the park post-baking.
WE TOOK THEM ON A WALK.
I’m not gonna lie to you; this recipe *will* take you several hours. You *will* get way too invested, and you *will* lose some of your sanity in the process. By hour four, you *will* find yourself sitting on your kitchen floor, peering into the oven and praying that things turn out okay for those little balls of twine-wrapped dough.
But it’s worth it. The loss of sanity, the praying, the hours spent inside your kitchen on a gorgeous sunny day (sigh—not the best planning on my part). I promise. It actually is very easy. It’s just…time-consuming. If you are literate, have hands, and know how to tie a double knot, you can do this.
Whether you’ve been baking up a storm for years or you’re setting foot in your kitchen for the very first time, you really can bring these adorable pumpkin challah rolls to life aaaaand get them to look exactly like they do in the photos here. All you need is a free day and, ideally, a few fall dinner party / High Holiday guests to impress.
By the way, you can totally make these with your favorite challah recipe—just skip to the end of my tutorial and start with the twine-wrapping (this should be right before your last pre-oven rise). I’m sharing my own recipe (with a few autumn-appropriate additions), but feel free to customize any old way you see fit.
Let’s get to it!!
Pumpkin Challah Rolls
Total time: 4-5 hours, but most of that is “non-working” time—you’ll be letting the dough proof, rest, and rise. Still, you shouldn’t venture too far from your kitchen during this time.
Yields: Anywhere from 18-30 rolls, depending on how big you make them. You can adjust accordingly based on how many you need for your gathering!
What You’ll Need:
3 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1.5 cups bread flour
1 cup warm water
2 1/4 teaspoons dry active yeast (this should equate to a little more than 1 package, but be sure to measure it out exactly!)
2 large eggs, room temperature (you can get them to room temperature quickly by letting them sit for 5 minutes in a cup or bowl filled with lukewarm water)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup pumpkin purée
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon kosher salt
Egg wash (1 egg, beaten, plus 1 tablespoon of water)
What You’ll Do
In a large bowl, combine 1 cup of the all-purpose flour, the yeast, and the warm water thoroughly. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let the mixture stand for 1 hour at room temperature (no more, no less!).
Add the eggs, oil, pumpkin purée, and honey straight to the flour-yeast-water mixture, and incorporate thoroughly using a fork. Add the rosemary, thyme, and garlic, and continue to mix. Add the remaining all-purpose flour (that should be 2 cups!), bread flour, and kosher salt to the bowl. Mix until all ingredients are combined, and a shaggy dough ball forms.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface; knead for 2-3 minutes until the surface is fairly smooth, and you’ve formed a ball.
Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise for about 1.5 hours at room temperature, or until the ball has doubled in size. (I suggest you clean up your kitchen at this point, because things are only going to get messier from here on out!)
After the rising time is up, remove the dough from the bowl and divide it into 18-20 small round balls—about 1.5 inches in diameter. Remember: They’ll continue rising and expand by about 1-2 inches, so this isn’t their final “size”; keep them a liiittle smaller than you want the final rolls to be!)
Make your pumpkin shapes! Wrap each dough ball in kitchen twine—see photos to see how I did it, but essentially you want to create 8 “sections” by continually flipping the dough ball on itself and switching the direction of your twine-wrapping. And this part’s important: Wrap with a light hand! It’ll become larger and expand into the twine when it proofs and bakes, so you don’t want to squish it at this point.
Cover the twine-wrapped balls loosely with paper towels or kitchen linens, and set them aside to rise for another 30-35 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees during this time.
Combine beaten egg and water. With a pastry brush or paintbrush, brush the loaves with egg wash.
Bake at 350*F for 28-30 minutes or until dark golden brown.
Allow rolls to cool for a few minutes, then remove the twine using scissors (be careful and work slowly, unwrapping it in exactly the opposite pattern as you had initially wrapped it!) This part’s fun.
Finally, place a pecan “stem” on top of each pumpkin roll. Serve warm (ideally with butter or a butter substitute)!