It’s the first week of fall, which means I’m legally obligated to give you a recipe that’s warm and cozy and oh so festive. I don’t make the rules, folks, but truthfully, I don’t mind this a single stinking bit. Once the temperature drops below 70 my body informs me that it’s time to prep for hibernation, meaning I need to I bake a plethora of tasty things to ensure my survival through the long winter. That’s just how science works.
The reason there’s so much hype around fall is because it’s when cookies, doughnuts, and hot, buttery cinnamon rolls come back into your life. These are all good things, and here’s another: sweet potato Parker House rolls. The sweet potato in this recipe not only makes these butter-saturated rolls seasonally appropriate, but it also makes them technically a vegetable—just like marshmallow-topped candied yams. Truly, autumnal science is the best science.
I like making my Parker House rolls on the larger side, because I don’t like competing with others for control of the bread basket; bigger rolls, fewer knife fights at the dinner table. You can make yours any size you wish, and all you’ll need to adjust is the baking time—just start keeping an eye on them after 10 minutes and pull them out when they’re delightfully brown.
- 1 package instant or active dry yeast (activation directions here)
- 1/4 cup lukewarm water
- 3 Tbsp. maple syrup or honey
- 1 3/4 cups cooked sweet potato
- 2 eggs
- 2 Tbsp. butter, cut into thin pats
- 4 1/4 cups flour
- 2 tsp. kosher salt
- 3 Tbsp. melted butter
- 1/2 cup sesame seeds
- Egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 Tbsp. water)
Combine the yeast, water, and maple syrup or honey in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the sweet potato, then affix the paddle attachment and beat for about one minute until smooth, then beat in the eggs. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then switch to the dough hook attachment.
Add the butter, flour, and salt; turn the mixer to medium-low until just combined, then crank the speed up to medium-high until the dough forms a ball around the hook and pulls away from the bowl cleanly. Dust your hands with a bit of extra flour, pick up the dough and set aside, then grease the bowl with cooking spray. Use your hands to shape the dough into a ball, plop it back in the bowl, cover with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap, then put it in a warm place to rise for 90 minutes. (I like doing this in a cold oven with the light on, which emits just enough heat to help the yeast work its magic.)
Lightly dust your hands and a cutting board with flour, plop out the dough and pat it down into a rectangle, then use a knife or pizza cutter to divide it into 16 relatively equal pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a ball, then flatten with the palm of your hand to make a circle about 4" in diameter. Brush one side with melted butter, sprinkle with a hefty pinch of sesame seeds, then fold in half so that the butter and seeds are on the inside. Divide the rolls between two baking sheets, brush with any remaining melted butter, loosely cover with plastic wrap and put someplace warm to rise for 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Brush the rolls with egg wash and top with the remaining sesame seeds. Bake for 12 minutes, then rotate the pans and bake for another 10-15 minutes until brown and toasty. Cool for at least 20 minutes before serving.