Warm the Holiday Table with No-Knead Pumpkin Rolls

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Take courage: You can make pillowy-soft dinner rolls from scratch. Yeast rolls generally take a good deal of time and practice to perfect, but by using the no-knead technique of prepping dough the night before, several steps are skipped. With these easy — yet precise — instructions, you’ll have a basket of wholesome, comforting pumpkin rolls to warm any holiday table.

The yummy yeasty goodness that is a signature of homemade rolls (or bread) usually requires two separate sessions of rising; during these times the yeast ferments to make flavor. But these sessions also make bread-making into an all-day affair.

However, in this recipe, rich yeasty flavor is developed while you sleep — while the dough rests overnight in the fridge. The yeast still ferments, but at a slower rate.

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A rise time of about 45 minutes is still needed right before the formed rolls go into the oven, to help them plump up into those little pillows.

The best plan for making the dinner rolls is to mix up the ingredients the night before serving. Then, whenever is convenient the next day, just shape into rolls (which is the fun part!), let rise, and bake.

The pretty pumpkin hue not only adds a festive appearance, but also adds potassium and vitamin A for a healthy immune system. White whole-wheat flour contains fiber and whole-grain goodness. These rolls rise well for a whole-grain bread — but if you want even more height, swap out a few tablespoons of whole-wheat flour for all-purpose.

Make up a batch for a joyful dinner — or give a whole basket to brighten someone’s entire holiday season.

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Pumpkin Dinner Rolls


1 teaspoon active dry yeast

1/4 cup warm water (110 to 120 degrees F)

1 egg

1/3 cup and 1 tablespoon 2% reduced-fat milk, divided

1/3 cup and 1/4 cup canned pumpkin

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter

3/4 cup white whole-wheat flour (about 3.3 ounces — or measured by stirring flour, lightly spooning into cup and leveling)

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided (about 11.2 ounces — or measured as above)

2 tablespoons pepitas (pumpkin seeds)


In a large bowl, stir yeast into warm water and let set about 5 minutes until dissolved.

In a medium bowl, combine egg, 1/3 cup milk, pumpkin, brown sugar, salt and butter; stir well with a whisk. Add to yeast mixture and stir. Using a wooden spoon, stir whole-wheat flour into yeast mixture.

Add 2 cups of all-purpose flour to yeast/flour mixture. Add enough of remaining 1/4 cup flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to make a smooth but sticky dough (generally about 2 to 3 tablespoons, unless your kitchen is humid).

Scrape dough into a large greased bowl, and turn dough over so greased side is face-up. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight.

About 1 hour before baking, remove dough from refrigerator and turn dough out onto floured surface. Sprinkle dough lightly with flour. Roll dough into 8-by-8-inch square. Using a serrated knife, cut into 16 squares, sprinkling knife with flour when sticky.

Pull two sides of dough under and pinch to form a smooth, rounded top. Place pinched side of dough ball down on parchment-paper-covered baking sheet. Let rise for about 45 minutes in a warm kitchen or until rolls have risen slightly.

Heat oven to 400 degrees F. 

Brush tops of rolls with remaining milk and sprinkle with pepitas.

Place baking sheet in oven and reduce heat to 375 degrees F. Bake for 12 to 13 minutes. (They don’t really get golden, as they are already golden.)

Per serving (1/16 of recipe): Calories 116; Fat 2 g (Saturated 1 g); Sodium 160 mg; Carbohydrate 21 g; Fiber 2 g; Sugars 2 g; Protein 3 g

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Serena Ball, M.S., R.D., is a registered dietitian nutritionist. She blogs at TeaspoonOfSpice.com, sharing tips and tricks to help readers find cooking shortcuts for making homemade, healthy and delicious meals. Her recipes are created with families in mind.

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