Total time: 30 minutes, plus 2 hours standing and 8 hours chilling
Servings: 12 cloverleaf or 18 dinner rolls
2 ( 1/4-ounce) envelopes active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (110 to 115 degrees)
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons coarse salt
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 cups flour, plus up to 1 cup more
Olive oil, for greasing bowl
2 tablespoons melted butter
1. Sprinkle the yeast over the water in a large mixing bowl and stir to dissolve. Using a wooden spoon, beat in the eggs, pumpkin, soft butter, sugar, salt, thyme and cayenne. Add 3 cups of flour and beat until smooth, gradually adding more flour as needed to make a soft, sticky but still manageable dough. Make sure the dough is well mixed. Oil a larger bowl and scrape the dough into it, turning to oil all sides. Cover with a dish towel and let rise in a warm, draft-free spot until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours. Punch the dough down, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
2. Grease 2 (8-inch) cake pans with melted butter. Punch the dough down again and shape into round dinner rolls, arranging them in pans with about 1/2 inch between each (if the dough is too sticky to handle easily, lightly butter or oil your hands), or cloverleaf dinner rolls as directed in the Southern rolls recipe. Cover the rolls with a dish towel and let rise in a warm spot until doubled in bulk, 30 minutes.
3. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Bake the rolls until browned, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve hot or warm.