Confession #95: I’m a planner… Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls
So, are you one of those “go with the flow” people, or are you a planner?
As much as I sometimes wish I was better at being relaxed and easy-going, it’s in my nature to need things planned out. If you remember me talking about my trip to France, that’s a perfect example of what I’m talking about. I did way more planning for that than I even care to think about. From breakfasts to desserts and including pretty much everything in between, I knew where I wanted to go, what things I wanted to try, etc. etc. etc. Was I absolutely sick of planning for the trip before I even left? Yeah. But I definitely don’t regret it. Had I just hopped over to France knowing about nothing except the Eiffel Tower, I would have missed out on a ton of amazing sites and delicious eats. I may yearn to be a no-plan, carefree person at times, but a lot of good can come out of making plans, too.
Sometimes though, the best things happen spontaneously. Best things like… Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls. Very, very best.
I usually have an idea of what I want to bake during my free weekend time, but these plans often change. Because of time, or just a turn of mood, I might plan all week to make muffins and end up making scones (or something like that…). I have no idea what I was planning to make the day I made these rolls, but I know that it’s a good thing those plans got dumped, because these are ah-mazing!
Sweet potatoes work their tender, sweet magic on these Cinnamon Rolls, transforming them into soft, pillowy clouds of swirled bread. Whole wheat flour even sneaks its way in there, and you would never, EVER know it. Brown sugar and cinnamon, sprinkled generously over the buttered dough before baking, make an intoxicating filling that needs no frosting enhancement. A little butter and a light glaze of milk and sugar keep the rolls soft and shiny on top. The result is total heaven – soft, perfectly sweet, melt-in-your mouth heaven.
And you don’t even have to like sweet potatoes. :)
Combine 4 1/4 ounces (1/2 cup) milk with 2 ounces (1/4 cup) butter (cubed) and microwave in a heat-safe bowl for about 40 seconds, just until stirring makes the butter melt into the milk completely. Set aside to cool until comfortably warm, not hot.
Meanwhile, combine the remaining 2 1/8 ounces (1/4 cup) milk with 1 tablespoon sugar in a large bowl, stirring the sugar into the milk. Sprinkle the yeast on top and stir. Let sit until foamy (about 10-15 minutes).
Slowly stir the butter and milk mixture into the yeast mixture, followed by the egg yolks, remaining 3 tablespoons sugar, and salt. Add the mashed sweet potatoes and and whisk in until smooth. The mixture may look a bit lumpy but the color should be even. Add the whole wheat flour and 8 1/2 ounces (2 cups) bread flour. Stir or fold in until partially combined, creating a shaggy dough. Then, use your hands to knead everything together into a moist dough.
Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes, adding up to 2 1/8 ounces (1/2 cup) bread flour as needed. You want to make a smooth, soft dough. It should still be somewhat moist and may be tacky, but it shouldn't get stuck to the kneading surface anymore. Shape the dough into a ball with a smooth top and place in a greased bowl that is about twice its size. Cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled. This took about 1 1/2 - 2 hours for me with the dough in my oven on the bread proof setting (100° F).
Spray a 9" x 13" baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Once the dough has risen, turn out onto a lightly floured surface and punch down gently. Roll out to a rectangle, 11" x 18", with the 11" side towards you. Rub the butter all over the top of the dough. In a small bowl, whisk together the brown sugar and cinnamon, and sprinkle evenly over the dough. Starting at the end near you, roll the dough up as tightly as possible, pusing the ends in as you go so the width of the rolled dough stays the same. Form a seam at the end and turn the roll so the seam is on the bottom. Slice the roll into 12 equal pieces using a serrated knife. Arranged the sliced rolls in the prepared baking dish as you go. Cover the rolls with plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight.
The next morning, remove the rolls from the fridge and let sit at room temperature until they are puffed up and have risen almost to the top of the baking dish. They should no longer be cold. When the rolls are almost ready, preheat the oven to 350° F. Just before baking, brush the rolls with the melted butter. Bake for about 25 minutes, until they are puffy and no longer doughy. Don't overbake! While they are baking, warm the milk for the glaze in the microwave for 15-20 seconds. Stir in the sugar until dissolved. As soon as the rolls are done baking, brush with the milk and sugar glaze. Return to the oven for another 2 minutes to allow the glaze to seep in.
Allow the rolls to cool slightly before eating or flipping over. To flip, place a sheet of parchment paper or a large tray over the top of the rolls and, holding the baking dish and the parchment/tray together, flip over. Place on the counter and allow the rolls to fall out of the pan.
Enjoy warm! Leftover rolls can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge and reheated in the microwave for 25 seconds per roll. They are insanely good the following days too. :)
*I used about 1 1/2 potatoes to get this amount of mashed sweet potato. Peel potatoes and slice into about 1/4-1/2 inch thick slices. Place in a microwave-safe container with 2 ounces (1/4 cup) water and microwave for about 9 minutes, until fork-tender. Mash well (I used this OXO Potato Ricer to mash mine.)