In the bowl of a stand mixer, with the hook attachment, combine warm milk (110 F), yeast, sugar, pumpkin puree, and butter.Tip - if you don't have an electric mixer you can knead the dough by hand in a mixing bowl.
Add the flour and salt. Combine well on medium-high speed.
Once all the flour is well incorporated, knead on medium for 3 minutes.Tip - avoid the temptation to add more flour. We want soft, light, and fluffy rolls, and this is only possible when the dough is soft, elastic, yet slightly sticky.
When the dough is soft, shiny, but still slightly sticky shape into a ball.
Leave in a warm place. Let rise for 60 to 90 minutes until double in volume. Tip - in winter you may need 90 minutes or more but in summer the dough may double in 45 minutes. If you can't attend to it at that moment, de-gas, reshape, and let double in volume again.
When the dough is double in volume, transfer to a well-dusted floured surface but avoid adding too much flour.
De-gas, reshape into a ball. Then roll into a small log.
Using a dough scraper divide this log into three portions and then each of those portions into 3 again. This should give you 9 dinner rolls. Tip - the odd number 9 is because we are using a square baking pan. you can also divide into 8 medium or 12 small rolls, use an 8-inch round or quarter sheet pan.
Hold each piece of dough in your hand and gather all the seams together.
Pinch the seams at the bottom, then place the ball on a non-flour surface while still holding it in your hand.
Loosen the grip on the dough and roll back and forth into a tight circle against the work surface. You will feel the dough become tight and smooth. Tip - the goal is to create a tight, smooth ball. If you overdo the rolling you will rip the top surface so be careful.
Grease or spray a 9 x 9 square baking pan. Place the rolls in the pan.
Cover with a clean kitchen cloth or plastic wrap and leave in a warm place for about 45 minutes until almost double in size.Tip - in summer the dough my proof quicker than 45 minutes so look for the size rather than the time.
When the rolls are almost double in volume, after about 30 minutes, preheat the oven to 190 C / 375 F.
Brush the rolls with egg wash.Tip- Egg wash is a full egg with 2 tbsp of water. An egg wash will give a nice golden color. If you can't use egg, milk or cream will work just as well. Do not use oil or butter as it will create a crust.
Bake for about 20 to 22 minutes until lightly golden on top.
When baked, brush with melted butter.Tip - this is optional but adds a nice flavor and keeps the top crust soft.
Take them out of the pan and cover with a clean kitchen cloth for at least 5 minutes to keep them soft.
These will keep at room temperature for 3 to 4 days.
Measure all ingredients ahead of time, so you don't forget anything at the last minute.
For accuracy, use a weight measure for the ingredients because every cup of flour can weigh differently depending on how you fill it.
The liquid (milk or water) must be warm (not hot) - about 110F. If the liquid is too hot, it will kill the yeast. Similarly, if the liquid is too cold, it will not activate the yeast.
Though instant dry yeast has a long shelf life, it can get ruined. Always check the expiry date on the yeast. If unsure, combine the yeast with water/milk, sugar/honey, and oil/butter from the recipe and let stand 5 minutes. If it gets foamy the yeast is good to go. If not, it's best to buy fresh yeast or check the temperature of the milk.
Keep salt away from yeast as it can kill the yeast. I like to combine salt with the flour then add the yeast mixture.
A soft loose well-hydrated dough is not necessarily a bad thing. Often, it will give you a soft puffy bread. So, don't be tempted to add more flour than mentioned in the recipe.
Kneading is key to making good bread. While kneading by hand can be therapeutic, using a stand mixer is easier and quicker.
Leave the dough at room temperature to rise until double in volume. While not recommended, when in haste, you can place it in a warm (30 C / 75 F- not hotter) oven this will expedite the rise.
Bread does not have to be time-consuming. You can leave the dough in the fridge to rise for a few hours (even overnight) while you go about your chores. A slow rise will give more flavor to the bread.
Always preheat the oven for at least 10 minutes before you place bread in or the low temperature will spread the dough too much.