Thursday, December 16, 2021

Ekmak #BBB

Our bake for December, hosted by Karen's Kitchen Stories, is a lovely Syrian pastry known as Ekmak.  It originally meant "sweet bread with cheese".  They are a lovely treat, with a rich, ricotta filling and contrasting berry topping.  I used our marion blackberries, as they have so much more flavor than regular blackberries, and you could probably use any fruit you liked to go with the ricotta.  My Ekmak turned out with a lovely, thin and crispy crust and a very tender crumb.

Karen reminded us that this pastry is shaped liked another boat shaped bread we once made, Adjaruli khachapuri, a savory boat bread.  Both are of course delicious, and though I have a sweet tooth I would be hard pressed to choose between the two.  Be sure to visit Karen's post and read a little history of the recipe.  We would love for you to try out this special pastry with us this month and share how it turned out!  New recipes are posted every month on the 16th. Check out our Facebook group to see the participants' baking results during that time.
makes 9-14

For the cheese filling:

20 oz (567 g) full fat ricotta cheese, preferably double cream.
63 g (½ cup) all purpose flour
2 large eggs
28 g (4 tsp) honey
¾ tsp (2.25 grams) kosher salt
(If you want a sweeter filling, you can add some sugar to taste. ) (I did add a bit of sugar.)

For the blackberry topping:
115 g (¾ cup) fresh blackberries, cut in half, lengthwise (I used frozen marion blackberries)
168 g (½ cup) blackberry preserves (I used marion berry jam)

For the Dough:
4 tbsp granulated sugar, divided
2 ¼ teaspoons active dry or instant yeast
12 oz warm water (95-100ºF), divided
500-575 g all purpose flour
¼ cup (57 g) butter, room temperature (super soft)
1 ½ tsp apple cider vinegar
8 g (1½ tsp) sea salt
(I also added a spoonful of sourdough discard)

 For the egg wash:
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp water

Confectioner's sugar
Honey for serving

Make the Ekmak:

First, mix the cheese filling ingredients until thoroughly combined. Refrigerate for at least three hours, while making the dough.

Make the Blackberry mixture:
Mix the berries and preserves and set aside.

To Make the dough:

In a small bowl, whisk together the yeast and one tbsp of the sugar. Add 6 oz of the warm water and let stand until foamy.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add 500 g of the flour, the remaining 3 tablespoons of the sugar, and the butter and mix with the paddle attachment on low until the butter is evenly distributed, about one to two minutes. Switch to the dough hook.  Add the yeast mixture and the apple cider vinegar and mix on low while gradually adding the remaining 6 ounces of warm water.

Knead on medium-low until the dough comes together. Switch to medium and knead until the dough clears the sides of the bowl and is tacky but not sticky. Add remaining flour, by tablespoons, until the dough is the right consistency.  (I needed the full amount of flour plus a couple tbsp to make up for the runny sourdough I added.)

Add the salt and knead to incorporate on medium speed. Form dough into a ball, cover, and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes to an hour.  Heat oven to 425ºF with a rack in the center of the oven. Line three baking sheets with parchment and lightly sprinkle each with flour.  Turn out and de-gas the dough and let rest for 10 minutes.  


It's a lovely, silky, stretchy dough

Divide the dough into 9-14 pieces, cover and let rest for 15 minutes.  (I made smaller balls, since 9 would yield very large pastries.)  Roll each piece into a round and place each onto a lightly floured work surface. Cover again and let rest for 10 minutes. Pat and stretch each ball into a ~6 inch round, re-cover with the plastic wrap, and let rest for 10 minutes.  

Carefully stretch each round into a 10 inch by 4 inch oval and spoon 1/3 cup of the cheese filling onto the dough. Fold the dough over along the long edges as you can see in the pictures, to create "boats".  Stretch the dough to about 12 inches long.  Place the "boats" on the parchment lined baking sheets, 3 per sheet. Cover with oiled plastic wrap and let rest for 10 minutes.  Uncover and spoon a tbsp of the blackberry mixture in the middle of the cheese mixture.  Brush the dough edges with the egg wash.  Bake the ekmak for 15 minutes, once sheet at a time, turning the baking sheet around half way through.  Let cool on the pan for 10 minutes on a rack.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve warm, drizzled  with honey. 

Refrigerate leftovers and reheat in a 325 degree oven for about 5 to 10 minutes.

Baker's Tip: Work with dough in stages so that you can prepare three ekmak at a time and continue to shape, fill, let rise, and bake, in stages. 

The rest of the Bread Baking Babes

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Shekerbura #BreadBakers

Our December Bread Bakers challenge of Bread Art, hosted by Passion Kneaded, gave me the perfect excuse to try out a recipe I've been wanting to tackle for a few years now!  It's more of a pastry type bread, but there's yeast and it's definitely art.

Shekerbura is an Azerbaijani dessert. It consists of a pastry dough filled with ground almonds, hazelnuts, or walnuts, and sugar. The pastry dough is made of wheat flour, butter, milk, egg yolks, cream/sour cream and yeast, although it can also be a short pastry with no yeast. (The yeast adds a little tenderness to the pastry.)  The filling often includes cardamom, which is a total winner for me as it is one of my favorite spices.


Shekerbura typically have an intricate pattern imprinted on the dough before baking.  This is usually produced using traditional tweezers/crimpers called maggash. When I looked recently they were difficult to obtain outside of Azerbaijan, which is sad because I found them on eBay quite a few years ago for just a few bucks.  I did pick one up at the time, knowing I wanted to make the pastry at some point.  Now they do say that if you do not have a maggash, just to leave the pastry dough plain after folding the edges, but the patterns are just so beautiful!  

So there are some other options that could work.  One substitute would be the straight, "serrated": fondant crimper from this set.  I originally got some ice tongs to try back in 2017 but they were way too big and not really the right shape for crimping and so I sought out the real thing, available at the time.  (The miracle is that I was able to find the tiny tweezers in the utensil drawer after 4 years!)  Another possible option I saw were these maamoul crimpers or this pie crust crimper.  Both are wider compared to the maggash tweezers I have, so it is uncertain how the patterns would work, but they are available and inexpensive.  The maamoul crimpers are culturally and task related, the closest option.

It is good to know at least, that plain shekerbura is acceptable.

Interestingly, I found that many cultures have a similar cookie and decoration with tweezers.  The maamoul of the middle east are filled with nuts or dates and crimped with a serrated tweezer, as are the kuih makmur and kuih bangkit of Malaysia and Singapore.  And I know there are others.

The filling is dangerous.  Try not to get into it too much.  I love cardamom...  While shekerbura have traditional patterns, they may be decorated as ornately as desired.  I read somewhere that there is almost an unspoken competition in bringing out a tray of beautifully and ornately decorated shekerbura for guests.  I have seen extra bits of pastry shapes and bows, and silver nonpareils/dragees added as embellishments.  Check out Pinterest boards for some seriously gorgeous shekerbura!

(These freeze and reheat wonderfully in a low toaster oven!)

Makes ~24 shekerbura pastries

For the Dough:

500g  all purpose flour + ½ tbsp (for step 3)
200 g / 7 oz unsalted butter, cut into large chunks
2½ egg yolks
125 g / 4.5 oz sour cream
1/8 teaspoon salt
¼ tsp dry  yeast
½ tbsp sugar
¼ cup / 63 ml lukewarm milk, divided

For the Filling:
350 g  / ¾ lb skinned hazelnuts, or almonds or walnuts (I used half hazelnuts, half walnuts)
350 g / ¾ lb granulated sugar  (I used 250g white sugar, 100g light brown muscovado sugar for flavor)
1 tsp ground cardamom (freshly ground will have more flavor than pre-powdered)
1-2 tsp Frangelico (optional)

Equipment: mixing bowls or mixer, baking sheets, and a maggash (decorating tweezers)

To prepare the dough:

Put the flour and the butter in a large bowl or mixer. Using your hands, rub them together until you obtain fine crumbs, or run the mixer on low to achieve the same consistency. Make sure that the butter is fully incorporated and that there are no large crumbs left.

In a small bowl,whisk together the eggs yolks, sour cream, and salt.

In a small dish, mix together the yeast, ½ tbsp flour, ½ tbsp sugar. Fill it with 2 tbsp of  lukewarm milk, mix, and let stand for about 2 minutes.

Add the egg and the yeast mixtures to the flour-butter mixture.

Using your hands, or the paddle attachment, mix the ingredients until fully incorporated and a rough and inconsistent dough is obtained.  Transfer the dough to a work surface. Put the remaining 2 tbsp of lukewarm milk in a separate dish. Constantly wetting your hands with milk, knead the dough for a few minutes to make it smooth.  You may also work the milk in with the mixer, just until combined, then give a few turns on the counter.

Shape the dough into a ball. Place it back in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Set aside to rest for about 30 minutes.

While the dough rests, prepare the filling. If you are using already skinned nuts, grind them finely in a food processor.  In a mixing bowl, combine the ground nuts with the sugar(s). Add the ground cardamom and Frangelico, if using. Mix until fully incorporated.

To skin hazelnuts at home you can either roast and rub the skins off, or blanch, ice bath and rub, and then toast.  This post covers both methods.

Divide the dough into balls, each weighing 40-50 g.  (I originally used 50 gram balls and cut them with a 4-inch round cutter, saving the scraps for new balls.)  Work with one ball at a time and cover the rest.  

Roll each ball into a 4 inch (10 cm) circle.

Place the circle in the palm of your hand, slightly folded, and put 2 rounded tablespoons of the filling in the center.  Pat down to compact just a little.


Starting at one end, begin sealing the left and right edges towards the center to obtain a half-moon shape.  Sealed shekerbura must have enough filling to be somewhat plump and never flat.

Using your thumb and index finger, start pinching and twisting the dough along the seal to decorate the edges.

Arrange the pastry on a baking sheet, lined with parchment (baking) paper. Continue working with the rest of the dough balls, arranging them on the baking sheet as you are finished decorating their edges.

First attempts were so bad, I had to use a pasty press to
fix the crimp.  Got the hang of it eventually!

Now decorate the tops. Holding a pastry in one hand,  and a maggash (tweezers) in the other, pinch the dough with the maggash at an angle and slightly lift it upward. Continue until you obtain a row of pattern. Create similar rows, each at an angle to the next one, until the entire surface is decorated.

This is the traditional herringbone pattern for shekerbura.

If maggash is not available, leave the top of shekerbura plain, without any patterns.

This is how shekerbura pastries look before they go in the oven.

Bake on the middle rack of the oven preheated to 175ºC (350ºF) for 15-20 minutes, or until the edges just begin to change their color and the bottom is light brown.  Take care not to overbake the pastries – the tops should be light in color when baked. If you did not decorate your pastries with the tweezers, dust them with powdered sugar after they have cooled off. 

Be sure to check out the other artful bread creations this month! #BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on this home page.

We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.


Saturday, December 11, 2021

Apple Cider Sugar Cookies

If you love soft sugar cookies, apples, and those instant apple cider drink mixes, you will probably love this cookie!  This treat is taken from a Betty Crocker recipe that calls for a pouch of sugar cookie mix and I was surprised and pleased when I saw the short ingredient list!  Feel free to use their recipe and a mix if it is something you have on hand.  For us it still has corn syrup (allergies) and is just not something we ever buy since it is so easy to make from scratch in just a few minutes.  (Incidentally, Hain baking powder is corn free.)  So this is just a scratchified version of the Betty Crocker cookie.  They are fabulous, so soft and tender. 
I recommend using a crisp, tart apple like a Fuji or Granny smith for these cookies.  Something that will hold its shape and give a pop of appleness.  Hubby loves soft cookies, and these ones elicited a moan and eye rolling so I would say they are good!
Apple Cider Sugar Cookies 
makes ~ 3 dozen
2 tbsp sugar
1 package (0.74 oz) apple cider instant drink mix (do not prepare), divided
1 + ½ tsp ground cinnamon, divided
¾ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups flour 
¼ cup oil 
½ cup butter, (one stick) softened
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla (optional)
¾ cup finely chopped peeled apple (1 medium)

Heat oven to 375°F. In a small bowl, mix 2 tbsp sugar, 1 tsp of the apple cider drink mix, and ½ tsp of the cinnamon and set aside.

In large bowl or mixer, combine ¾ cup sugar, remaining drink mix, 1 tsp cinnamon, soda, baking powder, salt and flour together.  Pour in oil while stirring on low and mix for 1-2 minutes until fully incorporated and mixture is a coarse powder consistency.  Stir in the softened butter and egg until a soft dough forms. Stir in apple pieces until combined. If using a mixer, stir for no more than 30 seconds. Shape dough into ~36 (1¼-inch) balls. 

Basic sugar cookie mix + oil

egg and butter mixed in

add finely diced apples

mix just to combine

Roll balls in the reserved sugar mixture.  Place 2 inches apart on parchment lined cookie sheets.  Discard remaining sugar-spice mixture after rolling balls.

Bake 7 to 9 minutes or until edges are set and light golden brown.  Cool 1 minute on cookie sheet then remove to cooling rack.  Cool completely, about 20 minutes.  Store covered in airtight container.

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Hällakakor #BBB

Norrländska Hällakakor is a traditional flatbread from Sweden.  And while the typical Knäckebröd is a crispbread, Hällakakor is more like a soft, flat, thin cake.  It is often consumed generously spread with nice, salty butter and most definitely while still warm.  Cheese is another common topping.  These breads were originally baked as thin flat cakes in a pan or on a scorching hot flat stone over an open fire. I believe if they are pan fried, they can also be known as stekpannebröd.  Made with a little fat and syrup, (Swedish syrup appears to be very similar to golden syrup), they should be baked only briefly to keep them soft. The dough can be seasoned with aniseed and fennel, or caraway, or left plain.  I chose caraway for mine since I went with a wholemeal spelt and rye mix for my dough and caraway and rye are best friends.  (Also found out that caraway is called cumin in Sweden.)  However, Hällakakor can be made with any combination of flours, or just all purpose if desired.  I have seen many combinations of wheat, rye and barley in various recipes.  I have seen them used as a taco shell, topped with all manner of breakfast options like eggs and salmon mousse and caviar and also used as the bread for the Swedish Sandwich Cake, (Smörgåstårta), which is a layered presentation sandwich.

As far as the rolling pins are concerned, I was able to get the deep, notched pin, called a kuskavel, on amazon, which is unfortunately not currently available now.  However, I was never able to find a large randkavel with wide grooves and contented myself with a tagliatelle cutting roller.  At the time that was the widest cutter available, but recently I have seen a pappardelle cutter, though you would have to be careful not to press hard at all!  And another option that is more a roller than a cutter and could be a good pattern!  Even a meat tenderizer that has the diamond shaped nubs on the end could work.  But as these breads were originally just flat breads and can still be cooked plainly that way, I figured I could always make something work with a pizza wheel or just simple and generous docking.  (If you want to see a babe who went all out on testing out shaping without getting a new rolling pin, go see Elizabeth's post!)  I do like having the notched pin because that can work for all kinds of crackers and flat breads.  Hubby does love rye crisps...


Air bubbles and the brown border are the signal to pull it out.   Thinner breads are more likely to have air pockets, and you don't want to over bake, lest they lose their softness.  My breads rolled solely with the notched roller did not tend to have pockets, but the ones rolled thin with a regular pin and then the grooved cutter and notched roller did have them.  I observed that the pre-packaged, store bought Hällakaka seemed to be much thicker than all the homemade Hällakakor versions I saw online.  
Purchased Hällakaka
I went with the thinner versions and baked only a few minutes to not over crisp them.  Evidently in Sweden it used to be customary for residents to hang their Hällakakor in the attic and dry them.  The dried bread was for the winter rations and they were quite hard.

Hällakakor can be frozen and then reheated straight out of the freezer on a flat toaster, toaster oven, or hot pan.  They should refresh well and taste like they were freshly baked out of the oven.  They are lovely with butter and jam or syrup, or with mascarpone and jam.  They are just as good with an herbed cheese spread or to sop up stew or curry.  We would love for you to try out this flat bread with us this month and share how you used it!  New recipes are posted every month on the 16th. Check out our Facebook group to see the participants' baking results during that time.

Hällakakor - Swedish flatbread
Makes: 8 pieces

350 g wholemeal wheat flour (I used fresh milled)
62 g wholemeal rye flour (I used fresh milled)
1 g (¼ tsp) deer horn salt (baker's ammonia), dissolved in water (you can use baking powder instead)
6 g yeast
8 g sea salt
25 g golden syrup or honey
20 g butter
235g milk (dairy or non dairy works fine) (You may need an extra tbsp or so depending on the flour used, some of the babes had their dough turn out a bit dry and too stiff as written)
(crushed caraway, aniseed or fennel may be added - I used ~½ tsp caraway, crushed in a mortar/pestle)

Place all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer and knead thoroughly for 15 minutes. Let rise for 6 hours at room temperature and knock back and briefly knead 2-4 times in between.  (The dough can also be chilled overnight.)

Cut off ~85 g portions and shape into round balls.  Flour lightly and let rise briefly, about 20 minutes.  Roll out round dough circles to about 25cm or 9in with a notched or regular rolling pin.  Dock well if using a flat rolling pin.  If using a grooved pin, follow with the notched pin.

Preheat the oven to the highest possible temperature (~500ºF/260ºC) and ideally place the flatbread directly on a baking stone or steel and bake them into golden, soft flatbread.  Bake for 3-4 minutes each.


The rest of the Bread Baking Babes



Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Butternut Dinner Rolls #BreadBakers

Our Bread Bakers theme for this month is the wide variety of dinner rolls, hosted by Zesty South Indian Kitchen.  I chose the lovely rolls that I have made every year for Thanksgiving with family.  They are easy to make ahead, freeze, and reheat on the day of feasting and they are delightfully soft.  Absolutely brilliant with a little butter and cranberry sauce!  The original recipe called for pumpkin, and any hard winter squash should work, but I do really like butternut squash for delicate color and flavor.

I suggest roasting over steaming if making your own puree, to get a consistency closest to canned puree that will work the best with the flour quantities listed.  Steamed puree tends to need significantly more flour.  These are an easy recipe roll and forgiving on time.  You can let them rise once, or twice, depending on how busy you are, or if you forget about the dough for a while... 😉  I use millet flour or meal instead of corn because of corn sensitivities, and millet lends a nice corn flavor to the rolls.  Feel free to use the original cornmeal though!  This recipe is half the original recipe, which makes both loaves and rolls, so this can easily be doubled to make 24 rolls, or a dozen rolls and a loaf, or two medium loaves and 6 rolls.

Butternut Corn Dinner Rolls
Yield:  12 dinner rolls

2 tsp active dry yeast
Pinch of sugar
½ cup warm water (105˚ to 115˚F)
½ cup warm buttermilk or kefir (105˚ to 115˚F)
2½ tbsp melted butter or oil
2 tbsp + 2 tsp maple syrup or golden syrup
¼ cup butternut squash purée (pumpkin or delicata works as well, canned is fine)
1¼ tsp sea salt 10g
½ cup fine-grind yellow cornmeal (I like to use millet flour)
½ cup medium rye flour light rye 53g (I used freshly ground, lightly sifted)
2¼ to 2½ cups unbleached all-purpose or bread flour

2 tbsp butter, melted, for brushing

In a large bowl, whisk together the warm water, sugar, buttermilk, melted butter/oil, syrup, yeast, and pumpkin purée.  Add in salt, cornmeal or millet flour, and rye flour, and beat for a few minutes until smooth.
Add the all-purpose flour or bread flour ½ cup at a time, until a soft dough is achieved.  (You may need more flour depending on the water content of your puree.)  Knead until dough is smooth and slightly tacky, either by hand or with a dough hook.
Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until double, about 1½ to 2 hours, depending on your kitchen temperature.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and divide into 12 equal portions.  Bring the edges of each piece together repeatedly to form a ball.  Place in a parchment-lined or lightly greased baking dish and cover loosely with plastic wrap or a tea towel.  

Let rise at room temperature until doubled, about 20 minutes.  You can also place in refrigerator for 2 hours to overnight.
Twenty minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 375˚.  While the oven is heating, brush the tops with half the melted butter.  (If you want a shiny, well-browned top like the top picture, brush rolls with a mixture of egg and milk).

Bake on the center rack of the oven until golden brown, about 20-25 minutes.  Remove from oven and brush with the remaining butter before cooling on a rack.  Rolls may be served warm or reheated later in the oven.

(adapted from Bread for All Seasons by Beth Hensperger)

 #BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on this home page.

We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.




Be sure to check out the rest of our delicious dinner rolls:

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Pumpkin Shaped Bread or Rolls #BBB


Our kitchen of the month chose a rustic pumpkin shaped and pumpkin based sourdough loaf for us to make this month!  Of course I have seen posts decrying the PSL, (pumpkin spiced latte), crazed autumn lovers for a few weeks now.  Rest assured, this is not PSL flavored if you don't go for that, and it easily could be if you do!  Since I had already done a large pumpkin sourdough loaf before, I decided to go with something a little more compact this time.  I think they look quite like the Jack-Be-Little mini decorating pumpkins you can find in the produce section with the decorative winter squash.

My full sized pumpkin sourdough, pumpkin shaped loaf.

Myself, being a wayward babe, I chose my own pumpkin sourdough recipe, but you can check out our original full sized recipe, variety of grains, and excellent shaping pictures on the host's post.  (Mine has a smaller yield and is enriched with the use of butter and milk.)  For the following recipe, since you are starting it the night before, it doesn't really matter if the starter has been fed just recently.  I might not use a completely old and hoochy starter, but if it's been in the fridge for a week or so since feeding, it should still be fine.  Just might take a little longer to fully perk.  Mine hadn't been fed for at least a couple weeks. 

This is a fun shaped bread that, while it takes some time, is not difficult and will impress! It was absolutely delicious dipped into our chowder with dinner too.  We would love for you to try this shaping method with us this month!  Bread Experience is the host kitchen this month. If you want to bake along with us and receive your Buddy Badge, please send a photo and link by October 29th to be included in the roundup.  Send an email to breadexperience at gmail dotcom and include BBB October Submission in the subject.  New recipes are posted every month on the 16th. Check out our Facebook group to see the participants' baking results during that time.
Pumpkin Sourdough Rolls
makes 10-12
¼ cup (56 g) butter (cold)
2½ cups (300 g) all-purpose flour or any combination of flours  (I added a touch of millet flour)
½ cup (125 g) sourdough starter discard 
½ cup (122 g) pumpkin puree
½ cup (120 g) milk (dairy or plant based) (I used coco-cashew this time)
2 tbsp (40 g) golden syrup or honey (may reduce or omit if desired)
1 tsp (5 g) salt

Late the night before (or early the morning of) when you want to make the rolls:
Chop the cold butter into small pieces and toss with the flour in a stand mixer.  Rub the butter pieces into the flour with your fingertips until it is an even, mealy mixture.  Add the starter, syrup or honey, pumpkin and milk to the bowl.  Knead until a fairly homogenous dough is formed.  At this point, you can either cover the bowl and let the dough sit at room temperature for 8-10 hours, or you can cover and chill overnight to have the dough ready for later the next day.
On the day you want to bake:
Turn out the dough and knead and fold on a floured surface until the dough is springy and smooth.  Return to bowl and allow to rise until doubled.  This may take all day for chilled dough, or it may be ready to go in the morning for an overnight ferment, depending on the current strength of the starter. While the dough is rising, cut some kitchen string into forty 8-10-inch strands.  Place the strings in a bowl and toss with a little oil to coat.  Set aside for shaping later.
Once the dough has doubled, divide into 10-12 equal portions and roll into rough balls.  (10 if shaping into pumpkins, 12 if baking as plain rolls in a 9x13 dish.)  If desired, reserve about 15-30 grams of the dough to shape into little stems.  These stems may be plain or they may be colored with a little matcha or cinnamon or cocoa powder.  (I used some cinnamon and matcha.)  Roll each large portion of dough into a round ball by cupping your hand over the dough and pressing and rolling lightly in a circular motion for 10 to 15 seconds.  Cover and let rest for 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place 4 pieces of string on your work surface, first in a cross, then an X, for eight equal divisions into a star shape.  Place a dough ball, smooth side-down, onto the center point. Carefully and firmly tie each string into a knot over the center of the roll. Snip off excess string using scissors.  (Do not tie the string too tight, just evenly against the surface of the dough.)

Place each tied roll, knot side down, onto a prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining strings and dough balls.

Let rolls rise for about 30 minutes or until they are slightly puffy against the strings.

Shape the reserved dough into "stems" and place them on the sheet next to the rolls.  The shapes should endeavor to be like little cones with a wider end and a narrow end.  (Pumpkin stems attach at the wide end, but it doesn't have to be a huge difference.)

Bake in the center of the preheated oven until lightly browned, 20 to 25 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let cool enough to handle, about 15 minutes. Cut strings off of each roll at the tops and peel down carefully and slowly to remove. Peel as far as possible and if the strings have baked into the sides, the strings may be pulled through from the bottom.  Cut a small hole in the tops of each roll and press "stems" into each hole, wider side down. Transfer pumpkin rolls to a serving platter.
To reheat rolls later, spritz with a little water, place directly on oven rack and preheat oven to 350ºF.  Rolls will be fully heated through when the oven is done preheating.

These were just lovely with baked potato soup!
(I took half of my dough and made 5 rolls for dinner, the other half I rolled out, spread with a little butter, sprinkled with brown sugar and cinnamon, and rolled up into cinnamon rolls!  I sliced them into five rolls and baked for about 30 minutes at 375ºF in a pie dish.  Then topped with a simple powdered sugar glaze.)

Leftover dough yumminess.

The rest of the Bread Baking Babes