Thanksgiving Sweet Potato Dinner Rolls with Dried Apples and Pumpkin Seeds

This bread recipe yields a sweet, soft baked bread-roll with a subtle combination of fall's favorite flavors: sweet potato,maple, apple and pumpkin seeds. The resulting dinner rolls are really delicious. 

This recipe is a variation of challah - the dough is enriched with eggs and oil. The rolls are wonderful served with Roasted Pumpkin Soup .

The dough requires 2 rising periods of one hour each and is easier to make using an electric mixer rather than hand kneading. This is an easy bread to create, the trick will be to knead it well enough to develop the gluten to support the heavier than usual ingredients.

  • Boil 2-3 small sweet potatoes, cool, peel and mash
  • Make the bread dough, allow to rise for an hour 
  • De-gas, hand knead briefly, shape rolls
  • Allow a second rising for about an hour
  • Bake and cool before separating rolls
  • This recipe makes 21 (3 oz) rolls or 2 large loaves of bread. Feel free to improvise on shape and size of rolls, adjusting your baking time to compensate for the changes. 
  • saucepan (for boiling the sweet potatoes)
  • fork or potato masher
  • 2-square baking pan or a large rectangle pan (for dinner rolls) or 2 large loaf pans 
  • mixer (you can hand knead this bread, but an electric mixer will make it easier)
  • work surface, measuring spoons & cups, scale 
  • pastry brush 
  • dough scraper or knife to divide dough into portions
  • cooking thermometer (optional)  
  • 1c (8oz) mashed sweet potato 
  • 3 cups (13.5 oz) bread flour
  • 2 1/4 (11 oz) all purpose flour
  • 2/3 (3 oz) all purpose flour (used when the bread is kneaded after the first rise)
  • 1 c warm water (reserved from the cooking water)
  • 2 packages (4.5 tsp) instant yeast  (* if you are new to yeast baking or want to use active dry yeast see posting on yeast)
  • 1/4 c (2 oz) sugar 
  • 1/4c (2 oz) maple syrup (grade B is preferable for baking, if you can find it)
  • 2/3 c (6 oz ) apple butter
  • 1 extra large egg + 1 yolk (separate from the white and reserve the white for glazing the bread)
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 c (4oz) vegetable oil (I use olive oil, but any good quality vegetable oil will work)
  • 4 oz diced dried apples
  • shelled pumpkin seeds for topping (approximately 1 oz) 
  • flour for dusting your hands as you form the rolls 
  • spray oil (for greasing the baking pan) and corn meal for dusting the pan

1. Boil the unpeeled sweet potato until soft. Remove from water, peel and mash. Measure to equal 8 oz.
2. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water, cool to 100 degrees 
3. In the bowl of the mixer (or in a large mixing bowl if you are kneading by hand), add the bread flour, 11 oz of all purpose flour and the yeast 
4. Pour the water over the ingredients, making sure to hydrate the yeast. Begin to mix at the low speed 
5. Mix the sugar, maple syrup, apple butter together
6. Pour the salt into the whole egg + yolk, mix slightly and pour into the mixing bowl. Continue mixing
7. Add the apple butter mixture, mashed sweet potato, diced apples and oil. And mix until all ingredients are blended. This will form a sticky loose dough 

8. Increase the speed of the mixer until the dough forms thick strands and the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, approx 8-10 minutes
9. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for an hour in a draft free location 
10. After the hour, the dough will double in bulk, but will look soft and sticky 

11. Prepare the baking pan by greasing it with spray oil and dusting with cornmeal
12. Sprinkle 2 of the 3 ounces of remaining flour on a work surface (I use a silicone mat) , scrape the dough out of the bowl onto the surface and begin to gently knead by spreading the dough, turning over onto itself, turning 90 degrees and repeating.  The dough will remain soft, but the stickiness will lessen 

13. The finished dough will be soft, but will not stick to the work surface.  The incorporated diced apple pieces will make the dough feel lumpy

14. Using a scale for more precise results, separate 3 ounce balls of dough, dust your hands with flour and roll to form balls. Fold edges over, forming a smooth surface on the top of the ball.  Place in the greased/dusted baking pan. The dough will make 20-21 rolls


15. Using a pastry brush, brush each roll with egg white and sprinkle with pumpkin seeds

16. Set in a draft free place and allow to rise for approximately an hour. The rolls will expand and fill the pan. Repeat the process in the 2nd pan (or use a large rectangle pan and bake in 1 pan)
17. About 10 minutes before the hour is up, preheat the oven to 370 degrees
18. Bake in the upper 1/3 of the oven for 25-30 minutes. Remove when golden brown. Allow to cool in the pan 
19. The rolls will form a "sheet" that is easily divided/ broken apart. You can serve as a whole piece or break up into smaller rolls 
20. You can store the rolls at room temperature for a day or two. For longer storage, double bag and store in the freezer for up to one month

21. When you are ready to defrost, remove the desired number of rolls from the wrapping and defrost for 20 minutes. Warm in a moderate oven for five minutes
22. This dough can also be used to make 2 large loaves of bread.


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