Look no further for the perfect Thanksgiving bread! Friends, meet (the cutest!) Pumpkin Bread Rolls. This is a pumpkin bread dough, formed into rolls, wrapped in string to form that pumpkin shape, and baked to golden perfection.
In a liquid measuring cup, stir warm water together with yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar. Set aside 10 minutes to proof and bubble up*.
In a large bowl, add remaining sugar, melted butter, egg and pumpkin. Stir to combine, then add in the proofed yeast mixture. Using a large spoon, stir in 2 cups of all purpose flour. Dough will be sticky. Keep adding in flour, bit by bit, until it becomes difficult to stir using a spoon. Start kneading with your hands, sprinkling in flour as needed until it is smooth and slightly sticky. It should feel tacky, but not stick to your hands. This process should take about 6 minutes. *DO NOT pour entire amount of flour onto dough and try to knead it in. YOU WILL get a tough, dry dough. Just go little by little to get the texture you're looking for.
Place dough into a well greased bowl and roll around to coat. Cover gently with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap and rise 1 hour or until doubled in size.While Dough is rising, cut 48-8 inch long pieces of kitchen twine. Add to a bowl and toss with vegetable oil generously. I like to also spray with cooking spray for extra insurance. Set aside.
Remove dough from bowl and cut into two even pieces. Replace one half back into the bowl and cover. Using a bench scraper or knife, evenly cut dough into six pieces. Take one piece of dough and form a smooth, round ball. (It's ok if the bottom doesn't look very good!)Arrange four oiled strings on a cutting board or clean counter to form a star (think 2 X's, one right side up, the other turned on its side, but with all the strings intersect in the center; see photos below.)
Place dough ball into the center of the strings, smooth side down. String by string, tie each string into a snug double knot across the bottom. Tie it so it is tight, but not tight enough to make the dough bulge. Snip any extra ends after tying. Place rolls knot side down onto prepared baking sheets. Continue this process until all pumpkin rolls have been formed. Cover rolls gently with plastic wrap and rise 30 minutes or so.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
With a preheated oven ready to go, transfer the puffed pumpkin bread rolls to the oven and bake 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and the interior of the rolls registers 190 degrees F.
After the rolls have come out of the oven, cool 10-15 minutes or until you can handle them easily with your hands. Using sharp scissors, snip the string at the top of the rolls and peel the strings back until you reach the point where the bread has baked over the string. Holding the roll with one hand, pull each string straight down out of the roll. (It might take some practice, but you'll get the hang of it.) Brush off any crumbs with your fingers.
Once all the strings have been removed, add in a pretzel rod to complete each roll.