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Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Sweet Buns

Pumpkin spice perfection.

Pumpkin chocolate chip sweet bun on parchment paper beside more chocolate chips.

I’ve not always been a fan of warm spices mixed with chocolate, but these pumpkin chocolate chip sweet buns have completely changed my mind. Studded with mini chocolate chips and filled with warm spices, these soft braided knots are the perfect treat on a brisk fall afternoon or in the morning with a cup of coffee.

If you’re not an experienced bread baker or braider, that makes two of us. I can count on one hand the number of bread recipes I’ve developed in the last four years. Before this, I had never even tried to braid dough. If I can do it, you can too!

Here are a few tips that will help shape your way toward sweet bun perfection.

Pumpkin chocolate chip sweet bun on parchment paper.

1. Use a scale. The best way to ensure gorgeously soft sweet buns is to weigh all your ingredients. Measuring by volume (in cups) is unreliable (especially when it comes to flour) and may result in dough that’s far too wet or too dry, which can throw off the texture of your finished bread.

2. If possible, knead in a stand mixer. This dough is fairly sticky, so it’s difficult to knead by hand, especially in the beginning. A stand mixer with the dough hook will do the job much faster and save you a lot of aggravation and clean-up. If you don’t have one, though, don’t worry: it definitely still possible to knead this dough the old-fashioned way!

3. Don’t flour the work surface. Even after kneading and rising, the dough will still be slightly tacky. That slight stickiness is actually helpful, as it helps prevent the dough from springing back while you roll out and shape it.

4. Let it rest. If the dough is springing back and refusing to cooperate with the shaping, put that piece aside for a few minutes and start working with another one. Resting the dough will allow the gluten in the bread to relax, making it easier to work with when you return to it a few minutes later.

5. Embrace irregularity. Like proverbial snowflakes, no two sweet bread knots are alike. Embrace the differences. They’re also proof that these knots were baked at home instead of a commercial kitchen! Contrary to what Paul Hollywood might say, irregularity isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Rows of pumpkin chocolate chip sweet buns on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Happy braiding!


Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Sweet Buns

(Makes 12)

Pumpkin chocolate chip sweet bun on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

¾ c. whole milk, heated to 110 degrees

¼ c. light brown sugar, divided

2 ¼ tsp. active dry yeast

4 ¼ c. (510 g.) bread flour, divided

1 tsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 tsp. ground ginger

½ tsp. ground nutmeg

¼ tsp. ground cloves

2 large eggs, room temperature, divided

¾ c. pure pumpkin puree

¼ c. unsalted butter, softened

¾ c. mini chocolate chips, plus more if desired

Special equipment: stand mixer (optional), two baking sheets, parchment paper, wire rack

In a small bowl, stir together warm milk and 1 teaspoon brown sugar. Sprinkle yeast over top and let sit 5-10 minutes, until foamy on top and smelling like yeast appear on top.

In a large mixing bowl (or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment), combine 4 cups (480 grams) flour, kosher salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and remaining brown sugar. Add 1 egg, pumpkin puree, unsalted butter, and yeast mixture, and stir on medium-low until a dough forms.

Switch out the paddle attachment for the dough hook and mix on high for 5-6 minutes, until the dough is starting to come away from the side of the bowl but still fairly sticky. Add chocolate chips and continue to mix on high until the dough is smooth, glossy, and bounces back when you poke it, 2-3 minutes more. (If it is difficult to incorporate the chocolate chips, transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and knead them in by hand).

Pumpkin chocolate chip sweet bun rope being coiled on a cutting board.

Grease a large bowl with softened butter. Transfer dough to bowl; cover and let rise 60-75 minutes, or until doubled in size.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Turn dough out onto a clean work surface and divided into twelve even pieces (about 95 grams each). Take one piece and, on the unfloured surface using two clean hands, roll it out into an 18” rope. (The dough should stick to the surface slightly, making it easier to roll the dough). Fold rope in half and, holding loop at the top steady, twist the two strands together into a single rope. Using the top loop as the center, coil rope into a circle. Tuck ends under and pinch to seal.

Knotted pumpkin chocolate chip sweet bun on a wooden cutting board.

Transfer knotted bun to lined baking sheet. If desired, press additional chocolate chips into crevices of the braid. Repeat with remaining dough pieces for a total of 12 buns.

Cover each baking sheet with a clean cloth and let rest at room temperature 20-30 minutes, or until slightly puffy. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees, racks positioned in the upper and lower thirds. In a small bowl, whisk together remaining egg and 1 teaspoon cold water.

Brush puffed buns with egg wash and bake 10 minutes. Rotate sheets top to bottom and back to front, and bake 10-15 minutes more, until golden brown and an instant read thermometer registers at least 190 degrees.

Let cool on baking sheet at least 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Pumpkin chocolate chip sweet bun cut open on parchment paper beside more chocolate chips.

Originally posted October 19, 2023.

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