Sweet potatoes and buttermilk. Two of my favorite ingredients transformed into sweet dinner rolls. I had to try. Fresh from the oven, these are like pillows of air. The sweet potato flavor is faint but you can certainly smell their sweetness. And the buttermilk? It adds a tenderness and fluffiness that only buttermilk can add. Pinch My Salt posted this recipe for Thanksgiving and, I have to agree, they would be perfect alongside your turkey dinner or as a sandwich roll for day-after leftovers. But, frankly, they are going any time of year.
And since we’re talking about buns, we’ve got a bun in the oven. A little girl. Coming February 2012. What does Rice Kernel think? My little 3-year-old wisecrack says he didn’t ask for a sister, but a brother. He’s over it now and claims he’s excited but I have no doubt it’s going to rock his world. And ours.
Sweet Potato Buttermilk Dinner Rolls, from Pinch My Salt
1 cup mashed sweet potato or yam, slightly warm or at room temperature*
2 cups buttermilk, at room temperature
1 egg, at room temperature
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
1/4 cup sugar
2 packets active dry yeast
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
6 – 7 cups bread flour
1. In a large bowl, or the bowl of your stand mixer, whisk together mashed sweet potato, buttermilk, egg, butter, sugar and yeast. (I learned the hard way that it is best to whisk these ingredients by hand rather than using the mixer. I ended up with buttermilk splattered all over the kitchen when I tried using the paddle attachment!) Now let the mixture sit for a few minutes while you measure out about 7 cups of flour.
2. Using the paddle attachment for your stand mixer, stir in one cup of flour along with the salt. Gradually add more flour, about a cup at a time, until a soft dough begins to form. If using a stand mixer, switch to the dough hook (use a wet hand to pull the dough off the paddle attachment and it won’t stick to you) and knead on medium speed (speed 4 on the kitchen aid) for 6-7 minutes, adding a little more flour as needed to make a moderately soft dough that mostly clears the sides of the bowl (the dough should eventually clear the sides of the bowl, but continue to stick to the bottom as it’s being kneaded). My dough took about 6 1/2 cups of flour, but yours made need less or more. If mixing and kneading by hand, dump the dough out onto a floured surface when it gets too hard to mix with a spoon. Using well-floured hands, knead the dough for 8 – 10 minutes, adding flour as necessary to keep the dough from sticking to work surface and hands.
3. When you finish kneading, the dough should be moderately soft and tacky, but not sticky. Scrape the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times to form a smooth ball of dough. If you kneaded by hand, form the dough into a smooth ball. Cover dough with a towel, and clean out your mixing bowl. Spray the inside of bowl with nonstick cooking spray or grease it with butter or oil. Place ball of dough, smooth side down, into the greased bowl. Turn the dough over to grease the other side, then cover with the bowl with a towel or plastic wrap. Put bowl in a warmish place and let dough rise for a little over an hour or until it has doubled in bulk.
4. When dough has doubled (you can check by pushing your finger into the dough. If an indentation remains without filling in, the dough is ready to go), push it down with your fists to deflate it and dump it out onto a lightly floured surface. Cut the dough in half with a knife or bench scraper then cut each half into 8 equal pieces (or more if you want smaller rolls). Cover pieces with a towel and let rest for a few minutes before shaping. While dough is resting, preheat your oven to 375 degrees and move two oven racks towards the center of the oven. Also, line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
5. Shape rolls by rolling against the work surface or between your hands to form balls. I like to pull the skin taut over the top of the roll and pinch at the bottom to form a smooth roll, but use whatever method works for you. Divide the rolls between the two baking sheets, and cover with a towel. Let rolls rise for about 20 minutes then remove towel and sprinkle the tops very lightly with flour. Place baking sheets in preheated 375 degree oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until they are puffed and lightly brown. Rotate sheets halfway through baking time (move bottom to top and vice versa).
5. Let rolls cool slightly and serve immediately. Or, if making ahead, let rolls cool completely on wire racks then place in Ziploc bags. To reheat, wrap rolls in foil and place in 375 degree oven for a few minutes until heated through.
Recipe Notes: *For sweet potato puree, I microwaved 2 medium sweet potatoes for about 7 minutes (poke holes all over with a fork first). Let cool then peel off skins. Pass the potatoes through a ricer if you have one, or mash well to remove any lumps.