NOTE: See this post for an UPDATED version of this recipe!
I know what you’re thinking.
This is a Thanksgiving food. I know. I know. And it’s not even Halloween yet.
Here’s the thing — I get really excited about holidays. And I get even more excited about holiday food. It’s a strange compulsion, one I’m trying to work out with my imaginary therapist, but the fact remains that the minute the leaves fall from the trees, many of my thoughts surround what is going on the menu for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I can literally taste the cranberry sauce that comes out of the can — still looking like the can — on my tongue (I love that stuff. Seriously. Don’t judge.), and I can smell turkey baking as I walk through the crunchy leaves on the sidewalk. Maybe that’s just me continuing to lose my mind, I don’t know, but if I’m going to lose it by smelling and tasting holiday foods, that’s fine by me.
Anyway, enough of that. Another (more sane, legitimate) reason I made these seasonal rolls, here and now, is because I am a big plan-ahead-er. You may not know this, but I generally am not one for spontaneity. Sure, I like to mix things up a bit, as long as I know exactly how they’re going to happen. Confession: I made a day-of-wedding itinerary for my wedding party with down-to-the-minute times of when everything was going to go down. It was a dark time for me.
But I am planning to serve up these rolls for Thanksgiving, which is at our place again this year, and making and freezing as many foods as possible before the big day is a huge weight off my holiday-loving shoulders.
So really, these rolls say a lot about who I am, which also is to say that I absolutely love sweet potato bread, of any kind. It’s not only insanely easy to make and nearly foolproof (I divulge my secret love of all potato-based breads here), but it tastes delicious. Like a holiday on a roll. If that’s not enough to get you in the kitchen right away, well, you might be almost crazier than I am. Almost.
Brown Butter Sweet Potato Buttermilk Rolls
Adapted from Pinch My Salt
Yields: About 16 rolls
1 cup mashed cooked sweet potato, slightly warm or at room temperature
2 cups buttermilk, at room temperature
1 egg, at room temperature
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus 2 tbsp for browned butter
1/4 cup sugar
4 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
2 1/2 tsp salt
6 to 7 cups bread flour
In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fixed with the whisk attachment, whisk together sweet potato, buttermilk, egg, butter, sugar and yeast until thoroughly combined.
Replace whisk attachment with paddle attachment and stir in one cup flour with the salt. Gradually add more flour, about a cup at a time, until mixture turns into a soft dough. If using a stand mixer, switch to the dough hook and knead on medium speed for 5-6 minutes, adding more flour as necessary until dough pulls away from the sides and is slightly sticky but not tacky; and if kneading by hand, place dough on floured countertop and begin to knead, 8-10 minutes, adding more flour as necessary until dough is smooth, elastic and slightly sticky. Note: You might not use all the flour, and that’s OK.
Shape dough into a round ball and place in a lightly greased bowl. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
Punch down risen dough and cut in half with a knife or pizza cutter. Cut into quarters, then into 8 pieces, then into 16. Roll each piece into a ball, pulling the skin taut on the top so its smooth and round. Place rolls on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet or baking stone about 1 inch apart. Let rolls rise, uncovered, 15-20 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Meanwhile, brown your butter: Place 2 tbsp unsalted butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Let butter melt, stirring occasionally, until it turns a golden brown. Remove from heat and pour into a small bowl.
Gently press down on the tops of the rolls to flatten them slightly. Using a pastry brush, brush the tops of the rolls with the browned butter. Bake rolls for 20 to 25 minutes until puffed and lightly brown. Cool completely on a cooling rack before serving.
To freeze, cover rolls, connected and in tact or split into two parts, with plastic wrap, then with heavy-duty aluminum foil. They should keep well for up to 8 weeks.