It should be obvious by now that I am a sucker for homemade bread. So when I have cooked, leftover sweet potato to use up, chances are that I will choose baking bread over pie. Not only have I never really taken to pie crusts (as weird as that may sound), the only type of sweet potato pie I've liked so far uses Okinawan sweet potatoes, which are only available for maybe two months during autumn, so generally my own pie-baking attempts are limited to the end of the year anyway.
After a few trials, I think I've found a suitable, go-to recipe for sweet potato rolls. It uses few ingredients and the resulting bread is pillowy-soft and just slightly sweet. I prefer using white-fleshed sweet potatoes or the purple-fleshed Okinawan sweet potatoes rather than the orange-fleshed ones that so often dominate supermarkets; the white and purple varieties are much sweeter and not nearly as watery as the orange type. Because the Okinawan sweet potatoes have disappeared from my local farmers' market for the time being, I was left with a comparably sweet and starchy purple-skinned, white flesh variety that is more widely available. If neither of those starchy types are around, the orange works fine for this bread--my first couple attempts at sweet potato bread used orange-fleshed potatoes--and gives it a distinct orange color. Just be aware that you may need to add more flour to your dough. I love these rolls plain, but I may add some chopped pecans in a future batch for nutty crunch. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!
Sweet Potato Rolls (printable recipe)
Makes 12 to 16
3/4 c plain, unsweetened nondairy milk, warm to the touch
1 T agave (molasses may be substituted, but the flavor will be slightly stronger and not as sweet)
2 1/4 tsp dry active yeast
1 c cooked and mashed sweet potato (preferably a white- or purple-fleshed starchy variety, but orange is fine), cooled
1/2 tsp salt
1 T mild oil, such as canola or vegetable oil
2 1/2 to 3 c flour (I used a blend of predominantly whole wheat and some unbleached bread flour)
mild oil, for coating the bowl, dough, and baking sheet
nondairy milk (optional), for brushing the tops
Mix the agave with the warm nondairy milk in a large bowl. Sprinkle the yeast on top and allow to sit for 10 to 15 minutes to proof, until the mixture becomes slightly foamy. Stir in the mashed sweet potato. Stir in the salt and 1 cup of flour. Continue adding flour, 1/2 c at a time, just until you have a soft dough that is too thick to mix with a spoon. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead for 5 to 10 minutes, adding more flour if necessary, until you get something that is still soft but no longer sticky. Form the dough into a ball and place it in a large, lightly oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and allow the dough to rise for 1 hour or until roughly doubled in size.
Gently deflate the dough. Pull off pieces slighly bigger than the size of a walnut and roll and pinch them into balls. Place the balls of dough on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet, 2 inches apart; for soft-sided rolls, arrange the dough balls in a 9-inch square pan so that they are just touching. Lightly oil the top of the dough and cover again to rise for another 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Just before placing them in the oven, lightly brush the top of each dough ball with nondairy milk. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until the tops are golden brown. Serve warm and enjoy!