Breads (Yeast) - Buns/Rolls

Halloween Pumpkin Buns (Yeast)

October 06, 2022 | Recipe by Bake with Paws
Halloween Pumpkin Buns

Halloween Pumpkin Buns

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I cant't believe it's October already. Halloween is just around the corner and this is the month for pumpkin bakes and creepy stuff.

Two years ago I baked Halloween Pumpkin Buns in sourdough version.  This year I used instant yeast so that the non sourdough bakers can also enjoy this.

One challenge of making instant yeast buns is that the dough rises pretty fast compared to natural yeast dough.  However, you can place the shaped buns in the fridge first while shaping the rest so that all the buns will rise at the same pace.

If you have any questions regarding this recipe or any other post, please leave me a comment in the “LEAVE A COMMENT” link and I will reply you as soon as possible.  Do tag me on Instagram @Bakewithpaws if you attempt on this recipe.

How To Make Halloween Pumpkin Buns

Yields:  9 buns


350g bread flour
130g mashed pumpkin (about 300g pumpkin - peeled, cut, steamed and mashed)
15 - 20g brown sugar
1 1/8 tsp (6g) salt
1 1/8 tsp (3.5g) instant dried yeast
45g egg (about 1 medium size egg), whisked
95g milk, cold (Reserve 10g first, add in gradually if dough too dry. I used about 90g of milk) *
35g butter, room temperature

5 cooking string or kitchen twine about 34 inches long and separate each string into 2 strands. Then soak the string in the oil for easy removal later. The reason I separated it is because the string is too tick for this small buns.
Baking tray, lined with parchment paper

9 cloves for decoration

* Depends on your flour, because each flour absorbs liquid and hydrates differently. You may also add 1 teaspoon of milk at a time during kneading if the dough is too dry, when you see that the dough doesn't stick to the bottom at all.  We want the dough to clear from the sides of the bowl with only a small part of the bottom sticking to the base of the mixer bowl. You should hear a slapping sound of the dough hitting the sides of the mixer bowl. 

  1. Kneading:
    1. Put all ingredients (except butter) into a bowl of stand mixer.  
    2. Slightly combine the mixture by hand with the hook attachment before turning on the machine so that the flour will not splash out.  
    3. Knead for another 3 minutes or until the dough comes together. Add in butter and continue knead for 10 - 15 minutes or until the dough come together and achieve window pane stage.  A reasonable window pane is good enough and it can be left to rest. Gluten will continue to develop while resting. The whole kneading process, I stopped few times to scrape down the dough from the hook to be sure it is evenly kneaded and also to prevent the motor from overheating.
  2. 1st Proofing:
    1. Form the dough into a round ball and let it rise in a warm place for 60 minutes or until double in size in a large greased bowl, covered with cling film or kitchen towel.  I normally leave the dough in the stand mixer’s bowl and cover with lid.
    2. You also can do long proof in the fridge over night.  I retarded the dough in fridge overnight for about 8 – 12 hours. I find the bread is more flavourful and aromatic when I retard the dough in the fridge over night.
  3. To Shape:
    1. Transfer the dough onto a clean floured surface then divide into 9 equal portions.  About 73g -74g each.  Let the dough rest for 10 - 15 minutes if you retard in the fridge overnight.
    2. Form each portion into a ball.  
    3. Use a string to tie around the dough ball as per the video.  
    4. Place bun onto the baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper.  Make sure they are about 1 ½ to 2 inches apart. You can place the shaped buns in the fridge first while finishing the rest.  This is to prevent the earlier batch buns from over proofing and so that all the buns will rise at the same pace. 
  4. Final Proofing:
    1. Remove the buns from the fridge.  Let them proof at the counter until  the buns rise and start to resemble a little pumpkin but not until doubled in size.  It is very important not to over proof the buns in order to get a nice pumpkin shaped. They took approximately 25 - 30 minutes at room temperature of 28C - 29C.  It may take longer or shorter depends on your yeast,  environment and conditions.
  5. Baking:
    1. Preheat oven at around 190C - 200C (top & bottom heat) or around 180C - 190C (fan-forced)  for 10 - 15 minutes.
    2. Bake for about 10 - 15 minutes, or until golden brown.  
    3. Remove buns from oven and let them cool on rack.  When the buns are cool enough to touch, remove the string by cutting off the top knot and bottom. Gently pull off the string one by one carefully.  Stick a clove in the centre of the buns.




Gluten forms when flour comes in contact with water.  Hydration of the flour causes the sticky and stretchy protein to form, giving structure to the bread.  This makes your bread trap air and rise. 

Gluten in dough can be developed by autolyse, resting, kneading or folding.

The windowpane test is used to determine whether the dough has been sufficiently kneaded.  By gently pulling the dough (or you may pinch off some dough) and trying to stretch it into a thin membrane.  If you are able to stretch the dough paper thin and translucent  without tearing, then the gluten is fully developed.  However, if you can stretch it without tearing but the membrane is not transparent, then the gluten is not yet fully developed.  

However, from my experience not all the recipe can achieve a thin and translucent window pane stage easily.   For example low hydration and low fat dough.  For such recipes, a reasonable window pane is good enough and it can be left to rest. Gluten will continue to develop while resting.  Exercising restraint to not over-knead the dough prevents the gluten from being overworked and broken.   Some of you may have experienced the dough breaking during the second proofing.  It is because the dough is over kneaded. 

The total kneading time for me is usually 15 minutes at low speeds except brioche dough with high fat percentage or dough using liquid fat which usually takes a little longer (maybe 18-20 mins).

From my experience, I found that high hydration dough with high percentage of fat will be easy to stretch and achieve a paper thin windowpane stage.

For kneading, please regard the timing provided as an indication only. It is only meant as a guide.  Timing may differ depending on the brand of flour and electric mixer used. The protein content may vary from one brand of flour to another.

The right flour plays a very important role in bread making.   To achieve fluffy, soft and light bread, I used Japan High Gluten Flour in most of my bread baking.  The protein content is around  12 - 13%.

The liquid measurement given is also a guide.  It is advisable to always reserve some liquid and not add it all in one go.  This would give you the opportunity to adjust if necessary. If dough is too dry, add the reserve liquid one tablespoon at a time until the right consistency.  This is because each flour absorbs water and hydrates differently. 

Please note that the proofing timing may also vary depending on your climate and environment. The humidity and temperature at your place will influence how dough rises.  
If you are unable to judge by just looking at the dough, you can do the finger poke test:
  1. First Proofing:
    • Lightly flour or oil your finger or knuckle, gently poke in the centre of the dough then remove your finger.  If it bounces back immediately without any indentation then it needs more time.
    • If the indentation stays and it doesn’t bounce back or if the dough collapses, then the it is over proved.  
    • If it bounces back just a little, then the dough is ready to be punched down and shaping.
  2. Second Proofing:
    • Lightly press the side of the proved dough with your finger.  If it bounces back immediately without any indentation, it means the dough is under proved and needs more time before baking.
    • If the indentation stays and it doesn’t bounce back, it means it has been over proved.
    • If the indentation slowly bounces back and leave a small indentation, it is ready to bake. 
    • There will be a final burst of rising once the bread is placed to bake in the oven and it is called oven spring. 
If your bread collapses or gets wrinkled on top after removing from oven, it could be because your dough over proved during the second proofing. Please proof until it rises 80 - 90% in size or is slightly below the rim of the pan.

Do also note that the baking temperature and timing provided are what works for my oven and should also be regarded as a guide only. Every oven behaves a little differently, so please adjust accordingly for your oven.


  1. Hi Bwp. Great to see u back posting again. I miss seeing your lovely bakes. Question on this beautiful pumpkin buns. To do overnight retard in the fridge do u need to rest dough room temp after kneading into a ball or do u put it in the fridge right after kneading. Also I u leave it to proof room temp before sending it to the fridge then how long do you leave at room temp. Thanks for kind response. Warmest Chloe.

    1. Hi Chloe, Thank you for always visiting my recipes. I put in the fridge immediately after kneading into a ball. I let the first fermentation in the fridge.

      Cheers and happy baking :)

  2. how do you now let the string stick on the pumpkin? it was so hard to remove them and my pumpkin break to pieces

    1. Hi, Thanks for trying. Did you soak your string in the oil first? I cut off the knot first then slowly and gently pull off the string. Please do not let the buns over proof too otherwise the string will be hide inside too much and hard to remove.

      Cheers :)


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