pumpkin pinwheels

by Patricia on October 19, 2009 · 19 comments


Seventy days. Ten weeks. Two months… no matter how I express how long I have been away from work, it does not match how long it feels. I left work about that long ago. I voluntarily, without coercion or drugs, bid adieu to my job as a software engineer and left my colleagues with dulce de leche brownies. Seventy days. That sounds like a lot of time, but to me it barely feels like two weeks.

The first few days I felt elated. Free at last, free at last… This was quickly followed by separation anxiety. What did I do? What am I doing? Basically, I’ve gone through a few of the stages of grief including but not limited to anger, sadness, chocolate binging, and finally acceptance. I guess that makes sense. My job was such a big part of my life. Ten years. That is a lot of bugs. And a lot of late nights. It wasn’t all bad, but it wasn’t for me. I felt like a square peg in a world made of round holes (Pop Quiz: Who starred in the eighties television show Square Pegs?)

I struggled with that decision for several years before I finally left (and I mean several)… I kept waiting because I thought I needed to know what I would do after I left (plus I was plain scared). This year after much thinking and waffling (and a little saving and calculating), I decided to do it without knowing the answer to “what’s next?”. Does this make me crazy? Maybe. Probably… but I have gone through the stages of grief in two short months, and I feel relaxed. And balanced. These are things that were waaaay out of whack last year.

As for the future, who knows what it will bring in the long term. But I do know that tomorrow I start a writing class. A humor writing class. I’m scared and excited at the same time. At the end of ten weeks, we’re supposed to read some of our material in front of an audience of our peers and invited guests (and possibly some random bookstore customers). This terrifies me. I’m not a public speaker. But it’ll be fun and it’s good for me… right? Well, that’s what I keep telling myself.

While I am scared of writing classes and people and public speaking, I am comforted in knowing that I can whip up a batch of pinwheels anytime I want. If you can make biscuits, you can make pinwheels. And I’ve been making biscuits and pinwheels since before I started high school. It’s nice to know when things out there in the real world are big-n-hairy with pointy teeth, that there are pinwheels in the kitchen.


Pumpkin spice pinwheels
(adapted from Alton Brown‘s biscuit dough)

These are an easy alternative to “real” cinnamon rolls which require yeast and rising. I normally make a plain biscuit dough with the sugar-cinnamon filling, but this is an updated version for fall (with pumpkin spice! I can’t get enough of pumpkin and spices right now).

Best served warm, but if for some reason you can’t eat them all, store them in the refrigerator and reheat in a 350 degree oven covered with aluminum foil for about 10-15 minutes.

2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pumpkin spice (*see notes)
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening (Crisco)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled
about 3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup pumpkin puree

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon pumpkin spice

about 1/4 cup maple cream cheese frosting

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Butter a pie pan or round cake pan.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.
  3. With your hands or a pastry blender, work the shortening and butter into the flour until it resembles a coarse cornmeal.
  4. Measure pumpkin puree into a measuring cup. Fill with buttermilk to make 1 cup. Whisk together.
  5. Create well in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour in pumpkin-buttermilk and quickly stir together with a silicon spatula or wooden spoon, just until dough comes together. The dough will be very sticky.
  6. Turn dough onto a floured surface. Lightly dust the top with flour, and turn the dough onto itself 4 or 5 times.
  7. In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar and pumpkin spice. Set aside.
  8. Roll dough into a rectangle, about 1/2 inch thick. Spread softened butter on the dough. Sprinkle sugar-spice mixture evenly. (Optional: sprinkle with 1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts).
  9. Carefully roll the dough into a long log. Smooth the seam. Cut into 1 inch pieces.
  10. Place into a buttered pie pan (so they are lightly touching each other).
  11. Bake 15-20 minutes. While they are still warm, top with maple cream cheese frosting.
  12. Serve to your boyfriend and listen to the ooohs and aaahhhs and mmmms.


  • Pumpkin spice: I made my own by mixing together cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and cloves in a 4:2:2:1 ratio (Ex: 4 teaspoons cinnamon, 2 teaspoons allspice, 2 teaspoons nutmeg, 1 teaspoon cloves… adjust it to your taste. I’ve been thinking about adding ginger and/or cardamom next time), but you can use store bought or your own creation instead.


1 Elizabeth October 25, 2009 at 9:15 pm

Ok so I just made these, in fact the timer just went off, but they are still gooey in the middle! And I realized that it only says to warm them up at 350 degrees, is this the same baking temp??? Help!

2 Patricia October 25, 2009 at 10:16 pm

Oops. I’m so sorry Elizabeth. I baked them at 450 degrees originally. If you still have them, you could put them back in the 350 degree oven for a while longer though. I’m correcting the recipe right now. (I hope they worked out for you in the end).

3 Eric Dupre October 21, 2009 at 3:48 pm

It’s great to have you in the writing class (I was the student on your right), and thanks for mentioning this blog. Mmmm … Pinwheels….

4 Brit Hammer October 21, 2009 at 1:23 am

I see Melissa already answered the pop quiz Q correctly. I LOVED that show and was sad when they took it off the air. BUT when one door closes, another door opens…and look what SJP went on to do.

Having already walked through the proverbial doorway, myself, I can say it’s SOOOO WORTH it!

“The road,’ wrote Cervantes, ‘is always better than the inn.’ Those who settle on fame or fortune, and having arrived, call it quits, miss the whole point of life. Realistically, there is no inn, no ultimate point of arrival. It is the road now and forever, finite man probing infinity, finding his way, endlessly. All that matters are the lessons learned along the way.” – Leonard E. Read

5 Joanna October 20, 2009 at 6:02 pm

Good Luck to you on your writing class! I know you’ll do just fine…one reason that I love reading your blog is for your writing style. :)

As one who loves cinnamon rolls, these pinwheels look absolutely delish! I am for sure going to make these.

Cheers to you, in your future adventures!

6 charlene/crazedparent October 20, 2009 at 10:53 am

Congrats to you :) For me, I know it was the best thing I ever did and has already made such a big, positive impact on my life.

Exciting and scary is so good. So cheers to what lies ahead!

And those rolls look scrumptious.

7 Patricia October 20, 2009 at 12:12 pm

Thanks Charlene. It has already made such an impact on my well-being I can’t believe I waited so long!

8 SarahKate October 20, 2009 at 7:43 am

Oh MAN! I wish I had seen this post earlier… before I wasted the last of my homemade pumpkin puree on an AWFUL pumpkin bread recipe that literally went straight into the bin. Those pinwheels look gorgeous!

9 Patricia October 20, 2009 at 12:10 pm

Which recipe did you use? I want to avoid it, haha. By the way, I love that you say “bin”. I sometimes wish I could get away with saying “bin” instead of “trash can” (it just sounds more civilized), but having grown up in Georgia, it doesn’t really sound right coming from me :)

10 Amanda October 20, 2009 at 4:18 am

Good luck with your class! I’m sure you’ll be wonderful :) These pinwheels look pretty spectacular too!

11 Patricia October 20, 2009 at 12:07 pm

Thanks Amanda. I always get really nervous before I do something new but then realize once I get there that it’s not so bad. I’m sure I’ll enjoy it… well, maybe starting on the second day of class.

12 Rachel Cotterill October 20, 2009 at 12:11 am

It sounds like you’re on an amazing adventure! :) And as long as there is baking, all is well. The pinwheels sound yummy.

13 Patricia October 20, 2009 at 12:05 pm

There is always baking around here, especially now that it has cooled off. So no matter how bumpy the road might get, I know there will be something good to eat :)

14 Charles Thompson October 19, 2009 at 9:10 pm

Kudos on starting the writing class! I did it. I was also scared to do it for the same reasons you are but I am so glad I did. I liked the first class so much I took two more from the same instructor. And congrats on taking the leap from your job and security – a hard thing to do – but it seems like it was the right decision. Love the pinwheel too!

15 Patricia October 20, 2009 at 12:04 pm

Thanks Charles. I’m looking forward to the class though I am nervous/anxious.
It was definitely the right decision for me to take the leap. I have asked myself a few times why I didn’t do it sooner :)

16 Melissa October 19, 2009 at 7:39 pm

I too am no longer working, of my own choice. I must say, you went through your “greiving” phase much quicker than I did, but in the end, I too am more relaxed and balanced.

The pinwheels look divine! I have added them to my growing list of fall baked goods I want to try.

By the way, the answer to your “pop quiz” is Sarah Jessica Parker (this shows my age!).

17 Patricia October 20, 2009 at 12:02 pm

I still have my moments of doubt but they are moments now instead of a week at a time so I feel like I’m through the woods even if the entire grieving process isn’t done.

I’m so glad you knew the answer! Yay, I am not the only one who saw the show (in the past if I mentioned Square Pegs, I’d just get blank stares).

18 Maria October 19, 2009 at 7:09 pm

I bet you were getting ooohs and ahhhs! These look fantastic!

19 Patricia October 20, 2009 at 11:56 am

Thanks, Maria. They were really good with a cup of tea. Dan loved them.

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