For the last couple weeks I've been out of whole wheat flour. Whole wheat flour provides an important function for me and my bread-eating family. It allows me to eat all kinds of wonderful breadsy things without guilt. It allows me to feed all these wonderful breadsy things to my kids without guilt. When we have whole wheat (or even part wheat) bread at dinner and the kids are picky and hardly eat anything else, then I can say to myself, "Well, at least they got some whole grains with their 1/2 teaspoon of soup/salad/casserole/vegetable." But when you don't have whole grains in your bread, then what do you say, "Well, at least they got some gluten candy with their two drops of tomato soup." It's less comforting.
(Here's a picture of them in different light, so don't freak out if they're not as orange as the above picture; they were more orange than regular rolls, but not flaming.)
One night I had promised my kids I would make bread. And a promise is a promise. Still, I had to do something to add nutritional value to their bread candy to make myself feel like a better person and all. I had a bit of pumpkin leftover and added about 1/3 C in. It wasn't a lot--let's face it; it was still gluten candy. But it was gluten candy with a bit of extra vitamin A. Aaaannnndddd even more importantly, it was fantastic. They were delicious and soft with a kiss of autumn (and a kiss of vitamin A, and--yes--I am still trying to make myself feel like I fed my kids better than I did). The color was pretty and I just thought it might be a nice addition to your Fall/Thanksgiving repertoire. They are made exactly like my go-to roll, only instead of using two eggs you use 1 egg and 1/4-1/2 C pumpkin puree (I used canned). That's it. I'll copy that recipe below with changes.
Pumpkin Dinner Rolls
Makes about 20-24 rolls
Prep time: 20 minutes
Rise time: 1 1/2-2 hours
Cook time: 10-15 minutes
Cost: $2.00 (that's $.10/roll)
milk: .15, yeast: .20, butter: .25, sugar: .10, egg: .10, flour: 1.00, pumpkin: .20
1 C warm water
1 C milk, warmed (not hot)
2 Tbsp yeast
1/4 C butter
2 tsp salt
1/2 C sugar
1/4-1/2 C pumpkin puree
7-8 C flour
Add yeast to water and milk. Let it sit there if you've got five minutes. If you'll get distracted by leaving a thing for five minutes, then just throw the butter, salt, sugar, and eggs in before you forget what on earth you were doing in the first place. Mix it all together. Mix in 4 C flour. Add 2 more cups. Begin kneading with hands when it gets too tough to stir. Of course, if you're a member of the 21st century and have a Kitchenaid, you can use that too with the dough hook. I myself haven't quite made it to the 21st century and that's okay with me because (weird mental disorder alert) I kind of like kneading. It relaxes me. I like how the dough smells. I like how it feels.
So if you, like me, will be doing things manually, here is #1 best tip for rolls. The dough should be pillowy--like a mother's bosom. We don't want any tight teenage breasts, nor do we want a stretched and sagging grandma shelf. If a three-year-old would just love to lay her head on your dough, it's perfect. (Warning: If you have a real life 3-year-old available, do not invite her to lay her head upon your dough to test it out. You'll get hair in your dough. And possibly boogers. Which is what mother's bosoms also get covered in when they have three-year-olds. Not that we mind because three-year-olds are cute.) I've digressed, haven't I? Anyway, so keep adding flour in 1/4 C increments or so and knead it for about 8 minutes until it is nice and pillowy and perhaps the teeniest little bit tacky, but not sticky. Then put it in a bowl and cover it and keep it in a warm place. (Everyone always says put it in an oiled bowl. I have never, not even once in my life done this. I always just throw it back in the bowl I mixed it in. It is always always fine. Who are these people with their oiled bowls and what is the purpose of oiling the bowl?)
Tip #2: If it's cold in your house, stick the bowl with the dough in the oven. Turn the oven on for 1 minute. Then turn the oven off and leave the dough in the warmed oven. (Do not leave the room to go do something in that one minute. You will never remember your dough. It will cook right there in your bowl with a dish towel over it and perhaps your house will burn down. This is not worth what you were going to do in that one minute.) Alternatively, you could turn the oven on, then off, then put your dough in just to be sure you don't flake.
Let it rise for one hour or until doubled. Then punch it down and shape it into rolls. Put the rolls on a greased baking sheet. Cover them and let them rise again--this time for about 20 minutes.
Bake at 375 for about 10-13 minutes. I like my rolls just a bit on the dough-y end. I always break them open to determine if they're just right and not way too doughy still. It's not the perfect technique, but it works.