Now that autumn is officially here, some people are looking forward to wearing their cool-weather clothes, which have been stashed away in the back of the closet for nine months. Other people anticipate the new fall T.V. season: Will Jim and Pam finally get engaged? Is Edie gone from Wisteria Lane for good? Can they drag out the Dancing with the Stars results show even longer? (Oh yes they can, and they will.)
For me, when a different season begins, it means that I can turn to a new stack of recipes for inspiration, recipes that have been patiently waiting in a file cabinet for their time of year to arrive. Throughout the year, whenever I find a great recipe in a magazine, on-line, or in a cookbook, I tear it out, print it, or copy it, and then I insert the recipe in one of several already massive files. The files are separated into seasons and then broken down further into categories. Yes, it's a bit obsessive-compulsive, but if you saw the size of my recipe collection, you'd understand the need for organization. Fall and winter recipes are filed away during the warmer weather, unless I get a massive gingerbread craving in the middle of July, which had been know to happen.
I went through my fall recipe folder the other day and, as one would suspect, ingredients like apples, brussels sprouts, and pumpkin played starring roles. Butternut squash, which happens to be my favorite vegetable, was pretty common too. These lightly spiced pull-apart dinner rolls are a variation on a potato roll recipe, made with butternut squash puree instead of mashed potatoes. The squash gives the rolls a nice fall-like orange hue and it also adds a bit of sweetness. If you don't plan to make these now, promise me that you'll keep them in mind for Thanksgiving (which is only a few short months away, by the way.) They would make great after-Thanksgiving mini turkey sandwiches. Here are some extra tips for making this cheerfully orange-tinted rolls:
- To make butternut squash puree from scratch, divide a butternut squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Roast face-down on a lined baking sheet at 400F degrees until the squash is tender. Cool the squash and scoop out the filling. Mash with a potato masher or puree in a food processor.
- If you don't want to take the time to roast the squash, then you use thawed frozen butternut squash cubes (found in some grocery stores), or you can substitute canned pumpkin for the butternut squash.
- Instead of using one large baking sheet for baking the rolls, you can use two round cake pans. Place 12 rolls in each: 8 or 9 around the outside and 3 or 4 in the center.
- The baked rolls can be stored at room temperature, sealed in a zip-top bag, for 2 days. The rolls can be sealed in a bag a frozen for up to 2 weeks. Defrost at room temperature and reheat in the oven.
Butternut Squash Pull-Apart Rolls
Makes 2 dozen
2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup pureed butternut squash
7 tablespoons butter, divided
4-5 cups flour
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 teaspoons poppy or sesame seeds
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the milk, yeast, sugar, and salt. Let the mixture stand for 5 minutes, until foamy, and then add the egg; beat well to combine.
Add the squash to the mixture and beat to combine. Cut 5 tablespoons of the butter into small pieces and add to the bowl; mix until the butter is in very small pieces. Add 1 ½ cups flour and the cinnamon and mix to combine.
Replace the paddle attachment with the dough hook. Gradually mix in more flour by the cupful on medium speed until the dough collects around the hook and pulls away from the sides of the bowl (you may no need all the flour.)
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead for 2 minutes. Place the dough in a greased bowl; cover with a towel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 1 to 1 ½ hours.
Preheat the oven to 400F degrees and butter a large baking sheet. Punch the dough down, turn out onto a lightly floured work surface, and knead until the dough is smooth and supple, about 4 minutes. Cut the dough into 4 equal portions; cut each portion into 6 equal pieces.
Roll each piece into a ball and arrange the balls on the baking sheet so that they barely touch. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter; brush the tops of the balls with the melted butter. Sprinkle the tops with the poppy or sesame seeds, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise for 30 minutes.
Bake the rolls until golden brown, 20-25 minutes. Let cool slightly, and then pull apart to serve.