I have a hard time imagining Thanksgiving without some great homemade rolls. I get that they can be intimidating and it’s just one more thing to make. I also get that you can buy store-bought rolls these days that are far from horrible.
But the smell of yeasted rolls baking reminds me of the holidays almost more than the smell of turkey roasting.
This is my favorite roll recipe this year and one that I’ll definitely be making for Thanksgiving. These are great because they have some mashed sweet potato folded in which doesn’t really change the flavor all that much, but does make them really moist and gives them a great color.
Also, I love these rolls because they open up and make for perfect little sandwiches for that next day turkey sandwich!
1) In a small bowl, stir together yeast and water and let it sit for 5 minutes.
2) In a bowl for a stand mixer (or just a large bowl) add sugar and butter. Pour warmed milk over the sugar and butter and stir until butter is mostly melted. It's okay if it doesn't all melt.
3) Microwave sweet potato, wrapped in paper towels and poked with a fork a few times, for 8 minutes on high. Let cool and then scoop out soft flesh.
4) Add mashed sweet potato to mixing bowl along with yeast mixture. Mix together well.
5) Add salt and egg to the mixture and stir.
6) Add flour and mix until the dough is together. It should be soft, but not sticky. If it is sticking to the bowl a little bit, that's okay, but if it's very sticky then add more flour by the 1/4 cup until the dough is no longer sticky.
7) Once dough is mixed and the right consistency, add to an oiled bowl and let rise for two hours.
8) Punch dough down and cut it into thirds. Working with one third at a time, roll dough out on a floured surface into a 12x6 rectangle. Cut the dough into 9 4x2 squares.
9) Brush half of each square with melted butter and fold over the other half so it slightly hangs over the edge.
10) Stack rolls into a lightly buttered 9x13 baking dish. Repeat with all rolls.
11) Brush top of rolls with melted butter and let rolls rise for thirty minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
12) Bake rolls for 28-35 minutes until they are golden brown on top and cooked through. Let rolls cool slightly before serving.
Adapted from a Bon Appetit recipe.
This is a pretty standard yeasted roll recipe. Start the dough by stirring together the warm water and dry yeast in a small bowl. This just ensures that the yeast dissolves entirely and that it’s active. It should start foaming slightly after a few minutes.
If you have a stand mixer, you can use it, but you don’t need a stand mixer to make these.
Either in the bowl of your mixer or in a large bowl, add the sugar and soft butter.
Pour the warm milk over the sugar and butter and stir it together so the butter starts to melt and the sugar dissolves. The butter doesn’t have to melt entirely.
The Sweet Potato
Because you just need the flesh for the sweet potato, just poke a few holes in a large one with a fork and then wrap it with a few paper towels.
Microwave the sweet potato on high for about 8 minutes and then let it cool. Once it has cooled slightly, then and you can scoop out and mash the sweet potato flesh.
Stir the sweet potato mash into the milk mixture and then add the yeast slurry. Before you add the yeast, make sure the mixture isn’t too hot or it will kill the yeast. It should be warm to the touch but not hot at all.
Then mix in your egg and salt and finally start adding your flour.
You will need at least 4-4.5 cups of all purpose flour to finish the dough, but you might need even more depending on how much moisture is in your sweet potato.
I recommend starting with 4 cups and then add more flour by the 1/4 cup.
If the dough is being really sticky, then you need to add more flour. This, for example, is too sticky.
I had to add about five cups of flour before my dough was the right consistency.
At that point, either mix the dough with the dough hook on medium speed for about five minutes or knead it lightly for 6-8 minutes until the dough is really soft.
Add the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and let it rise for two hours.
After two hours it should more than double in size.
Making the Rolls
This is a kind of interesting roll technique that results in rolls that you can easily pull apart. They are a bit of work, but the end result is great.
Just punch down your dough and then cut it into thirds. Working with one third at a time, roll it into a large rectangle, about 12×6. Then cut that rectangle into 9 smaller rectangles, each about 4×2.
Brush half of each rectangle with melted butter.
Then you are going to fold over each rectangle and shingle them in a lightly buttered 9×13 baking dish like so…
Repeat until all your rolls are done and then brush them with some melted butter and let them rise in the pan for 30 minutes.
Bake these guys at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 28-35 minutes until they are golden brown on top.
After these cool you can peel them apart which is really fun.
Like I said, perfect for sandwiches!
If there’s ever a day to bust out the mixing bowls and make some great rolls, it’s Thanksgiving.
I will be making these guys and I suggest you do the same!