It's officially pumpkin season! To be fair, I would eat pumpkin all year round, but when the weather starts to turn, it's the first thing I want to cook with! And what could be more comforting for those Fall weekend mornings than Sourdough Discard Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls?
Why you'll love this recipe
- Sourdough Discard Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls are packed with pumpkin flavor!
- You can easily modify this recipe to add nuts to the rolls.
- These rolls freeze well, so you can make a batch and freeze to enjoy any time. They're also easy to make the night before to enjoy in the morning!
- The irregularity is part of the charm! Slightly irregular rolls look (and of course taste) great and are part of the charm of this recipe. Plus, it's a lot easier if we're not aiming for perfection!
- This recipe is a great way to use up some of your sourdough discard, but you can also make this with active sourdough starter if you prefer.
You only need a few things to bring these Sourdough Discard Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls together.
- Non-dairy milk: I like to use almond milk, but any unflavored non-dairy milk will work well here. Also, if you're not dairy-free, you could use regular milk as well!
- Sourdough discard: Your sourdough discard should be unfed and at room temperature for this recipe. This recipe is designed for a sourdough starter with a 1:1:1 ratio (when you feed your starter, it's with 1 part starter, 1 part water, 1 part flour). If your sourdough starter uses a different ratio, you may need to adjust some of the ingredients.
- Pumpkin purée: You can use canned purée (I like to use Libby's 100% Pure Pumpkin), or you can make your own pumpkin purée.
- Active yeast: Since we're using sourdough discard (not active starter), we do need to use a leavening agent (in this case, yeast) to make the rolls rise predictably.
- All-purpose flour: All-purpose flour will make these cinnamon rolls light and fluffy. You could also use bread flour for cinnamon rolls with more of a crust.
- Dark brown sugar: This will be mixed with butter and a bit of cinnamon for the filling in the rolls.
See full recipe below for detailed instructions.
Substitutions & Variations
This is a very adaptable recipe. Below are a few different ways to make it your own:
- Use active sourdough starter: If you'd like to use active sourdough starter instead of discard, you can! Omit the yeast and use sourdough starter in place of the sourdough discard. You may need to adjust the rise times, so keep an eye on the dough as it rises.
- Add walnuts: Add crushed walnuts (or other nuts) to the butter and brown sugar layer for a bit of a nutty crunch.
- Use dairy milk: This recipe is written using non-dairy milk, but you can also use regular dairy milk if you prefer!
- If you're not in the mood for pumpkin, try my Sourdough Discard Cinnamon Rolls!
I have not tested this recipe with other variations, but if you do, let us know how it turns out in the comments! I always love to hear how you're adapting these recipes and use those as ideas for future recipes as well!
How to Make Sourdough Discard Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
Cinnamon rolls are notoriously thought of as being "hard to make," but they're really quite forgiving. Embrace some of the irregularities, and don't sweat it! Here is how to bring these Sourdough Discard Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls together.
Combine your dough ingredients and let rise for 60-90 minutes until doubled in size.
Roll the dough into a 9x14-inch rectangle.
Spread the dough with softened butter and sprinkle with the brown sugar (and walnuts, if adding).
Tightly roll the log along the long edge to the end. Try to press the long edge of the roll together to keep it tight.
Using unflavored dental floss, wrap around the log and pull through to pinch or cut your rolls. Cut the log into 8-12 rolls. You can also do this with a sharp knife.
Place the rolls in a greased baking dish. Cover and let rise for 30-45 minutes.
Once fluffy, bake for 25-30 minutes, then let cool. Make the frosting while the rolls are cooling.
Spread the cooled rolls with frosting and enjoy!
Keep in mind that these don't have to be perfect! Consider the pan that you're using and the overall shape of your rolls. How many would reasonably fit in there? The biggest thing to keep in mind is that you want them to be the same thickness. If you have very thick or very thin rolls, they will bake at different times. So as long as they're all roughly the same thickness, you're in good shape!
Expert Baking Tips
- Mix your dough to the right consistency. The dough should be smooth and slightly sticky when you transfer it to the bowl for the first rise. If needed, add more milk or flour (1 Tablespoon at a time) to reach your desired consistency.
- Let the dough rise long enough. Rising times will vary depending on the temperature of your room, so be patient. Dough will rise quicker in a warmer room and slower in a colder room.
- Embrace the irregularity! The rolls do not have to be perfectly sized or perfectly symmetrical. Some of the irregularity is what makes cinnamon rolls so fun!
- You do want the rolls to be roughly the same thickness. If you have some that are very thick, and some that are very thin, they will need different amounts of time to bake fully.
- Let the rolls cool before adding frosting. The frosting will melt on warm cinnamon rolls. If you want the frosting to stick, let the rolls cool first.
What is Sourdough Discard?
Sourdough discard is what is left over after you feed your sourdough starter. You can either literally discard it (throw it away, or compost), or use it in sourdough discard recipes like this one.
Sourdough discard is not as active as active sourdough starter. Therefore, we need to use a leavening agent (in this case, yeast), to make sure the dough rises predictably. Don't worry, you'll still get that sourdough flavor!
You'll need unflavored dental floss to cut the rolls (make sure it is unflavored! If you use minty floss, you'll taste that in the rolls), but you can also do this with a sharp knife. I don't like to use kitchen twine as it tends to be too thick and tears through the rolls rather than pinching a nice clean cut.
An 8x11-inch baking dish is perfect for these (I like to use the larger of the two Staub baking dishes in this set), but if you have a slightly different shape or size, that will work, too.
As always, a few spatulas, kitchen towels, and plastic wrap are also good to have on hand.
Room Temperature Storage: These cinnamon rolls are best fresh! To store leftovers, wrap the dish in plastic wrap or transfer to an airtight container and store it at room temperature for up to 3 days. Reheat the cinnamon rolls in the microwave for 15-30 seconds to make them soft and warm again.
Freezer Storage: Once the cinnamon rolls are fully cooled, transfer to an airtight container or bag (I like to split them into individual rolls, which makes it easier to heat up just one roll at a time). Freeze for up to 3 months. To reheat, warm the cinnamon rolls in the microwave for 30-60 seconds until soft and warm again.
No. I like to use mine because it's convenient, but you could also use a large mixing bowl and a wooden spoon to mix the dough.
No. If you're not dairy-free, you can follow this recipe and use regular dairy products.
Yes. To do so, omit the yeast and use active sourdough starter in place of the sourdough discard. You may need to adjust the rising times, so keep an eye on the dough as it is rising.
Yes. Shape the rolls and set them in the baking pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in the fridge overnight. In the morning, remove from the fridge and let the dough come to room temperature, then bake as directed.
Sourdough Discard Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
For the Rolls
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup pumpkin purée
- 200 grams (about ¾ cup) sourdough discard unfed, at room temperature
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 egg at room temperature
- 2 Tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
- 1 Tablespoon unflavored non-dairy milk or regular dairy milk, at room temperature
- 1 ¼ teaspoons instant yeast
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
For the Filling
- ¼ cup unsalted butter softened
- ½ cup dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
For the Frosting
- 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- 1 ½ cups confectioner's sugar
- 1-2 Tablespoons unflavored non-dairy milk or regular dairy milk
- Combine all ingredients for the rolls (all-purpose flour through kosher salt) in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix on low to combine. Increase speed to medium for 2 minutes until a smooth dough ball forms. The dough will be slightly sticky. If needed, add more flour or non-dairy milk (1 Tablespoon at a time) to reach your desired consistency. Transfer the dough to a large, greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 60-90 minutes, or until doubled in size.
- Turn the dough onto a floured surface and roll into a 9x14 inch rectangle. Spread with the softened butter, the sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon, leaving ¼ inch of dough on the short end of the rectangle without any toppings (to make sealing easier).
- From the short end of the rectangle, tightly roll the dough into a log. Press the end seam into the dough to seal shut. Using a sharp knife or dental floss, cut the dough into 8-12 rolls**. If using floss, wrap the string around the log, then pull tight to pinch and cut the dough.
- Transfer the rolls to a greased 8x11-inch pan, face up. There should be some room for the rolls to expand within the dish. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise 30-45 minutes until they have expanded to fill the dish.
- While the rolls rise, preheat your oven to 350°F. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown.
- While the rolls cool, make the frosting. In a large bowl, whip the softened butter until light and fluffy, then add vanilla extract and a pinch of salt. With the mixer on low, add the confectioner's sugar and 1 Tablespoon milk. Mix until smooth. Add additional milk to reach your desired consistency, if needed. Smooth the frosting on the rolls and serve immediately.