With their amazing color, soft texture, and rich, balanced flavor, these sweet potato buns make a fantastic addition to any occasion. For a holiday feast, however, they are absolutely indispensable, owing, of course, to their unique role as the perfect leftover sandwich bookends.
This recipe calls for retardation of the dough, which imparts a slightly chewier texture and richer flavor. If you want to mix the dough and bake the rolls the same day, you may omit the dough refrigeration step. To do this, simply wait for the dough to double in size after mixing, gently de-gas, and proceed with dividing and shaping. And be aware that the final proof time will be much shorter.
- 1 medium sweet potato (8-10 ounces)
- 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 2 large eggs, beaten and at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 packet (7 grams) instant yeast
- 20g (about 2 tablespoons) kosher salt
- 600g bread flour (about 5 cups)
- 1 egg yolk
- Coarse sea salt
Pierce the sweet potato all over with a fork and microwave on high for about 4 minutes or until soft. Slice in half lengthwise and allow to cool. Alternatively, slice the sweet potato in half lengthwise and roast the halves in a 375 F oven or toaster oven for about 30 minutes.
Scoop the roasted sweet potato out of the skin. Weigh out 8 ounces (about 230 grams) of sweet potato flesh. Reserve any remaining sweet potato for another use.
Pass the sweet potato flesh through a ricer or puree in a food processor until smooth.
To the bowl of a stand mixer add the sweet potato puree, buttermilk, beaten eggs, honey, yeast, salt and about half the flour. Mix with a spoon to form a rough, shaggy dough.
Fix the bowl in position, attach the dough hook, and turn the mixer on medium-low speed. Gradually add the remaining flour. When all the flour is incorporated increase the mixing speed to medium-high and continue mixing for 4-5 minutes.
Coat a large bowl — 2-3 quarts, at least double the volume of the dough — or plastic container with oil or cooking spray. Place the dough inside and cover with a lid or plastic wrap.
Ferment at room temperature until the dough has increased somewhat in volume but hasn’t yet doubled, roughly 1-2 hours, then place the dough into the refrigerator for 8-12 hours to slow down the proofing.
About 3 hours before baking, remove the dough and divide it into fifteen pieces, approximately 90 grams each. Shape each piece into a ball and place into a greased 9x13 inch baking dish. The balls of dough will be quite close together, in the manner of pull-apart rolls. Cover with plastic wrap. If the plastic wrap must touch the dough, mist the surface of the rolls with oil. Proof at around 75 F for about 2 hours, until not quite doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 375 F.
Make an egg wash by mixing the egg yolk with about a tablespoon of water. Brush the tops of the rolls very gently with the egg wash. Sprinkle lightly with coarse sea salt.
Bake for 15 minutes, then turn up the oven to 425 F and bake until the surface of the buns is light golden brown, about 10 more minutes.
Serve warm. Store extras for a few days in a plastic bag, or seal in an airtight container and freeze for up to a month.