Okinawan Sweet Potato Rolls
This is a very special recipe for Okinawan sweet potato dinner rolls passed down for several generations with some modern modifications.
Yields: 20 small bread rolls (or 8 large)
2 small Okinawan sweet potatoes (about 8 ounces)
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
3-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup potato flour
2-½ teaspoons dry active yeast
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
Prepping the active yeast:
Warm the milk. Using a thermometer, the temperature should be between 105°F to 120°F.
In a little bowl, place the yeast, add 1 teaspoon of sugar then pour in about 4 teaspoons of warm milk. Stir a little so the yeast dissolves and let it rest for 10-20 minutes.
Boiling the potatoes:
Brush, wash and peel the sweet potatoes. Cut them into 2-inch chunks and place them in a small saucepan. Fill it with cold water until the potatoes are barely covered. It's important to start with cold water so the potatoes cook evenly. Bring to a boil, add 1 teaspoon of salt and reduce the heat to medium-high (if you cook the potatoes at a roaring boil, they might fall apart). Cook for about 20 minutes. The potatoes should be fork-tender. Drain the sweet potatoes thoroughly and let them cool a little (do not rinse and let the liquid evaporate).
Making mashed potatoes:
Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle and have dried thoroughly, return them to the pot over low heat (to ensure there is as little liquid as possible). Turn off the heat. Using the back of a fork (you want little specks of purple potato to be visible), mash the potatoes. Add milk, butter, honey and salt. Stir well, using a wooden spoon.
Making the dough:
Sift the salt and flour. Set aside.
Using a handheld mixer, whisk the eggs with the rest of the sugar until you get a pale yellow foam. It will take about 6-8 minutes. The consistency must be very airy.
Lightly oil the bowl of your stand-mixer using a silicone brush. Form a well in the center of the potatoes and add 1-½ cups of flour. Mix until combined, using the dough hook of the stand-mixer. Stop the machine. Form a well one more time and pour in the egg mixture and the leavened yeast and milk mixture. Mix until the eggs are incorporated. Add 2 more cups of flour and mix until combined. Do NOT over-mix.
Transfer the dough to a marble pastry board or any clean surface. Dust with flour. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes until it becomes smooth. Add ½ cup of flour and knead the dough until it becomes a smooth dough ball.
Place the dough in another large bowl, previously brushed with a little oil. Drizzle a little more oil on the dough to prevent it from drying. Cover with a towel, place the bowl in a warm spot then let the yeast do its magic. You'll get a nice, airy dough doubled in volume in about 1-½ hours. Do not extend the leavening time more than 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Punch the air bubbles of the dough. Form 2 dough balls. Dust with more flour if necessary and from the large dough ball form 4 smaller ones (8 balls total).
Place them in 2 baking dishes (or you could place them in a parchment lined 9-inch square springform pan and insert a ramekin in one corner to complete the 9th spot). Spray with a little more oil and cover with a towel. Place in a warm spot and let stand for about 30 minutes. Dimple the dough with your fingers to check if the dough has risen enough.
Bake the dinner rolls for 5 minutes at 375°F, then lower the temperature to 350°F and bake for another 25 minutes. Open the oven, rotate the dishes and cook for another 5 minutes. Remove the rolls from the oven. Let the baked goods cool for about 5 minutes. Unmold the rolls and let stand on a cooling rack for about 20 minutes.
Separate the dinner rolls using a bread knife.