Soft and light, fluffy and stretchy, these easy yeast rolls are pure pleasure.  The sweet potatoes (and the potato cooking water — yeast loves potato water!) are to thank for the supple texture, tender crumb, and amber hue of this milk-free, egg-free recipe.  I cook mine in unsalted, boiling water until very tender, then mash them with a potato ricer.  The ricer helps strain out the stringiest sweet potato bits.  If you don’t have one, a regular masher or food processor will do a fine job.

Make them at your leisure — I suggest a double batch —  and freeze them for Thanksgiving.  Thawed to room temperature and warmed briefly in the oven, they’re as good as freshly baked.

Sweet potato dinner rolls

Yield: 1 dozen

1 ¼ c. sweet potato cooking water, cooled to lukewarm

1 tbsp. packed, light brown sugar

1 envelope active dry yeast

3 tbsp. safflower or canola oil

½ c. mashed, cooked sweet potato, at room temperature

3 c. unbleached bread flour, plus more as needed for kneading and shaping

1 tsp. fine sea salt

In a large mixing bowl, combine potato cooking water, sugar, and yeast.  Swirl bowl gently to moisten yeast and let sit 5-10 minutes until yeast blooms.

Stir oil and mashed potatoes into yeast mixture.  Add flour and salt and mix well with a wooden spoon.  Dough should be soft and sticky.  Turn out onto a floured counter and knead gently, adding just enough flour to keep it from sticking, until dough is smooth and elastic, about 1 minute.  Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover lightly with plastic or a damp towel, and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1-2 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Turn dough out onto a floured counter.  Using a bench scraper or large knife, divide dough into 12 pieces.  Shape each piece into a ball (or roll into a rope and tie in a loose knot) and place about 3 inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Bake rolls for 20-22 minutes, until lightly browned.  Transfer to a rack to cool.  Completely cooled rolls may be stored at room temperature for a few days or frozen for up to 3 months.

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