There are some things that should not come in your coffee drink as a “flavor shot” and I feel that “pumpkin spice” is one of them.  Maybe I’m old-fashioned. Here is what is called for:

Pecan sticky buns, with a yeasty spiced dough, kept moist and tender by a whole cup of roasted pureed Hubbard squash. Perfect on a plate, next to your cup of unadulterated coffee.  A Hubbard is like a pumpkin, but has a less stringy texture.  Also, it is enormous, oblong, and blue– with warts!

If you live in a cold place where winter gardening is difficult, Hubbards are good for wintering over.  You can harvest them in the fall, and they will sit around in a drafty corner of your house for four months, providing wonderful winter sustenance.  Okay, I know most of you live in a city, and don’t need to store food until the spring, but the great thing about real food is that is comes in perfect packages and at perfect times, without the need for a lot of fuss.  I was given a quarter of a Hubbard in my CSA basket last week– and the piece of squash was as big as a medium pumpkin.  It had been cut open, so had to be used up pretty fast.

I went over to the sometimes overwhelming organized chaos at Food52 and typed in Hubbard in the search bar.  Crowd-sourcing generally scares me, and can be a real crap shoot.  Food52 must have millions of recipes for sharing, but apparently only *one* involving Hubbard squash.  How is this possible?  Have I stumbled upon an obscure vegetable not trending with the gourmands and foodies?! This recipe looked really good.  Meaning it was not too contrived or over-wrought; it did not give you the sense it was invented through a thought process much like throwing paint against a wall.  I not only cooked it and fed it to my coworkers, I am now telling you all about it.

I will say that if you are a purist when it comes to cinnamon rolls, there is a lot of variation in the recipes out there.  A few times I have made the The New York Times Cookbook recipe, and been very satisfied.  Claiborne’s recipe calls for scalded milk– which I think is what makes it so scrumptious.  Also, don’t bother with recipes that have more than a quarter cup of sugar in the dough– the sugar belongs on the outside of the bun. Like with coffee, I oppose this tendency to over-sugar classic baked goods these days.

Speaking of sugar– I love recipes like this where it is easy to moderate the amount.  For example, when I made these Hubbard buns, I made a tray with about 1/3 of the sugar for my dad, and we enjoyed those very much too.  You taste flavors very differently when you use sugar like a spice, rather than a base.  Hundreds of years ago, when sugar was very expensive, this was how it was used– like a spice.

Of course, you could substitute pumpkin, or butternut, or even a canned puree.  The best way to make these for the morning is to prep them the night before, put them in the refrigerator, then let them rise again in the morning for about an hour before baking. Your house will smell delicious, as will your car if you transport them.

Hubbard Pecan Sticky Buns

Adapted from GrowCookEat’s Roasted Squash Cinnamon Rolls

I used rye flour instead of whole wheat, because I prefer the nutty lightness of rye, and it is less bitter than wheat.  Also, I used fewer spices and less filling in the final version, and added pecans.  Basically this is like making dinner rolls, but then rolling the dough out and filling it with brown sugar and pecans.


  • 1 packet quick rise yeast
  • 1/4 cup very warm water
  • 1 cup rye flour (Bob’s Red Mill is great and widely available)
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose King Arthur flour
  • 1 cup roasted & pureed Hubbard Squash (or pumpkin)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger


  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. Ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg


  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons buttermilk or whole milk, or combination of both
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Peel the squash, and slice it into ½ slices of various lengths. Arrange on a lightly buttered sheet pan. Roast for about 20-30 minutes at 375 degrees. Should be very tender when pierced with a fork.
  2. Process the squash in a food mill or food processor until smooth, Add a little milk if necessary.
  3. Combine the warm water and yeast in a large bowl. Let it rest until foamy, for about 5 minutes. The foam is a requirement, so if it doesn’t bubble a little, get new yeast.
  4. Combine the rye flour, squash, milk, butter, sugar, and spices. Beat with a mixer or wooden spoon until smooth, about 2 minutes.
  5. I do not have a stand mixer, so I knead the dough by hand, which takes about 10 minutes to get all the flour incorporated. A stand mixer will be faster, and you wont be sore the next day, but you will have to find some other way to burn off the sticky bun calories.
  6. Add the all purpose flour to the dough about a half cup at a time, kneading thoroughly between additions, and moving the dough to a well floured surface near the end. Continue kneading for a few more minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.
  7. Oil the bowl you were using, and place the dough in it to rise. Cover with a clean kitchen towel. Place the bowl in a warm place, like a recently used oven that is cooled below 200 degrees and is turned off. Let the dough rise one hour; it should double in size.
  8. Combine the filling ingredients using your fingers to distribute the butter until the mixture resembles a course meal.
  9. When the dough is ready, you should be able to stick your finger in it and not have it bounce back. Punch the dough down and let it rest a few minutes. Then roll it out into a 12×18 inch rectangle. Spread the filling on it.
  10. Carefully and tightly roll the dough from the long edge, press on it gently to make it stable. Cut into 1 inch slices. Place the rolls in a greased sheet pan or cake pan.
  11. Cover them and let them rise for 30-40 more minutes. They will almost double in size again. You can refrigerate them first and then let them rise before baking if you make them the night before, but this means they will need to sit out at least one hour before baking.
  12. While they are rising, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bake for 20 minutes, until golden brown. Sugar will bubble and caramelize. While they cool, mix the buttermilk and confectioners sugar for the glaze with a whisk (I prefer only a small amount, so this is really a drizzle, not a frosting).