Soft Pumpkin Rolls with Caramelized Garlic

Soft Pumpkin Rolls with Caramelized Garlic (Patrick Wong)

Being a devout follower of the church of carbohydrates, I consider soft, buttery rolls an important inclusion for any Thanksgiving feast, which is, after all, the most sacred day in the entire carb calendar. But beyond being an important element of a more diverse spread, in my view dinner rolls are practically essential when it comes time for leftovers.

I refer, of course, to Turkey day’s vital second act, when one arises from the torpor of the meat nap and gluttony gets its second wind: turkey sandwiches are the name of the game. Without going further into the sordid details of my Thanksgiving indulgence, I assume my enthusiasm is apparent.

With all that said, obviously I want something special when it comes to my bread choices: hence this recipe. A far cry from the typical, unassuming Parker House roll, these are enriched with pumpkin and fragrant with slow-cooked garlic — an aroma sure to enhance the already heady bouquet of your Thanksgiving preparations.

Whether warm from the oven or a called back into service a few hours later, these rolls will fulfill your carb-iest dreams.

Soft Pumpkin Rolls with Caramelized Garlic

Makes 15 rolls

Whether warm from the oven or a called back into service a few hours later, these pumpkin rolls will fulfill your carb-iest dreams.
Whether warm from the oven or a called back into service a few hours later, these pumpkin rolls will fulfill your carb-iest dreams. (Patrick Wong)

Ingredients:

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Dough:

  • ¾ cup whole milk, warm to the touch
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 (1/4-oz) package instant yeast, about 2¼ teaspoons
  • ¾ cup canned pure pumpkin, about ½ (15-oz) can
  • 8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 cups bread flour, divided, plus more, for dusting
  • 2 ½ tsp Diamond Crystal kosher salt*
  • 1 tsp flakey salt, such as Maldon or fleur de sel

Caramelized Garlic:

  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 head garlic, cloves peeled and trimmed (about 12-15 cloves)
  • 1 tbsp fresh rosemary or thyme leaves

Instructions:

  1. Start the dough by making a “sponge”: in a large bowl, combine the warm milk and honey. Sprinkle the yeast evenly over top. Add the pumpkin, melted butter, egg, and 1 cup of the flour, mixing until completely smooth and combined. Cover bowl with a damp towel or plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place to rise for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 hour.
  2. Meanwhile, combine olive oil and garlic cloves in a small saucepot. Heat over medium-high heat until the garlic is sizzling and extremely fragrant, turn the heat down to low, and cover with a lid. Cook the garlic, stirring every five minutes or so to prevent uneven browning, until the cloves are completely soft and light golden in color, 25 to 30 minutes. Stir in the rosemary or thyme and remove from the heat. Set aside for at least 10 minutes to cool.
  3. Uncover the "sponge," which will have risen only slightly. Using a wooden spoon, mix in the kosher salt and remaining 3 cups of flour, stirring until all the flour is incorporated and a soft, sticky dough is formed. Cover again with a damp towel or plastic wrap and let rest for 10 minutes.
  4. Once the dough has rested, and the garlic cooled, use a slotted spoon to lift the garlic cloves and rosemary or thyme leaves out of the oil, before adding them to the dough, along with any oil that clings to them. Set aside the remaining garlic oil to use later.
  5. Using one hand to hold the bowl, and the other to mix, knead the dough in the bowl until the cloves have been distributed and an elastic dough has formed, 1 to 2 minutes (the dough will still be somewhat sticky). Cover the dough leave to rise in a warm place until doubled, 90 minutes to 2 hours.
  6. Preheat oven to 425º.
  7. Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with about half of the reserved garlic oil.
  8. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and flatten it with your hands into a rough rectangle about the size of your baking pan. Using a bench scraper or pizza wheel, cut the dough lengthwise into 3 equal strips.
  9. Cut each strip crosswise into 5 equal pieces, resulting in 15 squares. Shape the rolls one at a time: place a cupped hand over a dough square, pressing into the work surface with the side of your hand before rolling the dough in a circular motion to create a ball.
  10. Transfer each ball to the greased baking pan, making 3 rows of 5 each. Brush or spoon the remaining garlic oil evenly over the surface of the rolls and cover them tightly. (At this point, if you want to make them ahead, the rolls can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours).
  11. Leave the rolls to rise until nearly doubled, at which point they will have expanded to nearly fill the pan (40 minutes to an hour).
  12. Once risen, sprinkle the rolls evenly with the flakey salt and place them in the preheated oven. Bake for 40-50 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through, until the rolls are evenly deep golden brown (if the rolls are fully browned before the 40-minute mark, lower heat to 400º).
  13. Cool the rolls for at least 10 minutes before removing from the pan and serving.

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