Julia Moskin's Creamy Macaroni & Cheese
Amanda Hesser's Red-Wine Risotto

Regina Schrambling's Slow-rising Pumpkin-Thyme Dinner Rolls


This photograph looks like I went a little nuts with the "warmify" button on Picasa's effects board. But that florid hue really is the color of the roll. I like to call it the FD&C Yellow No.6 effect. On Friday morning, while my failed rice pudding bubbled away in the oven, I beat together the dough for these rolls. My two cents on this recipe is that you should ignore the instructions to prepare the dough at night so it can be baked up in the morning. These are not breakfast rolls. Also, they lose flavor and texture rapidly, so you will want to make them as soon before dinner as possible.

I say, stir up the dough and let it rise once before going to work in the morning, then have it rest in the fridge all day before you bake the rolls in the evening. That way, no matter what is for dinner, your entire apartment building will be filled with the herby, spicy scent of these rolls and people walking through your front door will sink exhaustedly onto your couch, gaze at you with pleading eyes, and hold their hands out mutely for one of these little orange rolls to be placed therein. Grateful mumbles of pleasure through a mouthful of hot bread will ensue and you will know the true meaning of fulfillment.

The rolls were odd little things: savory but sweet, tender but almost dry. They're the kind of rolls you'd find in an assorted bread basket at a homey restaurant, but the slow rise and the well-balanced mixture of salt, peppery heat and mellow sweetness give them a gentle sophistication. To be honest, I prefer simpler, crustier breads, made of just water, yeast and flour. But the people around me who ate the rolls had no such complaints. And they certainly would liven up a Thanksgiving table.

With a wooden spoon beat together dissolved yeast, eggs, pumpkin, softened butter (this didn't really "beat" in well, so little lumps of butter remained throughout the dough, but it didn't seem to make a difference), spices and herbs, and flour. When you've got a soft but manageable dough, turn it into an oiled bowl and let it rise until doubled in bulk. Then punch it down and refrigerate the dough while you go to work. When you come home, punch down the dough again (this will be more difficult than in the morning, because the dough will be cold and firmer) and shape it into small roll-like shapes, which you put in a cake pan.
Cover and let these rise until doubled.
Put the pans in a preheated oven and bake until browned (they'll rise further in the oven and stick to each other, but will shrink away from the sides of the pan).
Let them cool for a bit, then gently tear the rolls apart at the seams. We ate these plain, though you could certainly split and butter them.