Makes 24 buns
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (about 110* Fahrenheit)
1 tsp plus 2 tbsp granulated sugar (honey works great too)
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 can, 15 ounces, solid-pack pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon)
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon (or a mixture of cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice)
1 package, 8 ounces, cream cheese
1/4 cup butter softened
1 tsp vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar
1 tbsp milk
1. sprinkle yeast over warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add 1 tsp of the sugar; let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Beat in remaining 2 tbsp sugar, eggs, butter, and pumpkin.
2. Gradually add 5 cups of the flour, salt, and spices, scraping the sides until a soft dough forms. Turn your mixer on low and knead for 10 minutes, until smooth. Dough will be soft.
3. Lightly grease a large bowl. Add the dough, and cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot until doubled in size.
4. Coat two 9x13 pans with baking spray, set aside. Make Filling: Mix butter, sugar, brown sugar and spices in a bowl.
5. Punch down dough. Roll out half onto a lightly floured surface to form a 16x10 inch rectangle. Spread with half of the filling. Sprinkle raisins, or chocolate chips over sugar mixture. Starting on one long side, roll up jelly-roll fashion. Pinch seam to close. Repeat with second half of dough and filling.
6. Cut each log into 12 equal pieces (about one inch each). Arrange pieces cut side down in prepared baking pan. Cover with plastic wrap; let sit in a warm spot until buns double in size, about 30 to 45 minutes. (You can refrigerate one pan overnight, or cover plastic wrap with foil and freeze at this point. Thaw in fridge overnight, then thaw on the counter while preheating the oven.)
7. Heat the oven to 350* Fahrenheit. Uncover pans and bake buns until they are golden brown and bubbly, 28-33 minutes (thawed buns bake for 36 minutes). Transfer to a wire rack and let cool 10 minutes.
8. For Frosting: in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a beater blade, cream the butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar a cup at a time, beating after each addition. Add milk and more whip for 3 minutes.
9. Spread icing on the just cooled buns and enjoy.