Potato Rosemary Rolls
Thanksgiving in the States is coming up soon. These rolls would make a wonderful accompaniment to the banquet table, though they are simple enough that they can go along with any night's dinner. They make amazing hamburger buns too.
Potato Rosemary Rolls Makes 18 small rolls or 12 hamburger sized buns 1 potato, cooked and mashed 1 lb (3 1/2 cups) bread or all-purpose unbleached flour 3/4 - 1 cup water 2 teaspoons instant yeast 2 teaspoons salt 1 tablespoon butter 1 tablespoon dried rosemary or 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary 1 teaspoon ground black pepper 1 teaspoon ground sage leaves
Cook the potato until soft, either by boiling or baking in the oven or microwave. For this batch I chopped up and boiled the potato. I then reserved a cup of the potato water to add to the loaf, figuring it had additional nutrients and starches that would help my loaf.
Mash the potato. Removing the skin prior to mashing is optional: if you are using tough skinned potatoes like russets I would suggest removing them, but with soft skinned potatoes such as yukon gold or red potatoes I typically leave them on. The chopped up skin add nice color and texture to your rolls.
Combine the flour, mashed potato, yeast, salt, pepper and herbs in a large bowl. Add 3/4 cups water and knead or mix for 5 to 10 minutes, adding more water or flour until a consistency you are comfortable working with is reached. I added close to a full cup of water and ended up with an extremely sticky dough that was difficult to work with. I was only able to shape the rolls by repeatedly dipping my fingers in flour. The end result was wonderful though.
(I encourage amateur bakers to push the limit of what they think they can handle, moisture-wise. More often than not you'll be pleasantly surprised with the results, though you can go too far and end up baking a pancake, which I've done more than once.)
Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a moist towel and let the dough rise until it has doubled in size, typically 60 to 90 minutes.
Remove the dough from the bowl, gently degas it, and shape it. For rolls or buns you can weigh them if you like or just eyeball them. I cut racquetball sized chunks of dough (larger than golf balls, smaller than tennis balls) then rolled them into balls in my well-floured hands. I placed them on a baking sheet covered with parchment, placed the entire sheet in a plastic trash bag, and set it aside to rise for approximately an hour again.
While the dough rose, I preheated the oven to 375 degrees.
If you have a spritzer, spray the top of the rolls with water right before placing them in the oven. Place them in the center rack and bake them for 10 minutes. Rotate the pan 180 degrees and bake them for another 10 to 20 minutes, depending on size. My large hamburger bun sized rolls took close to half an hour to bake. You'll know they are done when the bottom of the rolls is solid and slightly crispy. If you have a probe thermometer, check the temperature inside one of the rolls. When the internal temperature is approaching 200 degrees F, they are ready to pull out of the oven.
Allow the rolls to cool before serving. They keep very well too, so you could bake them a day or two ahead of time and still serve them for Thanksgiving.
Related Recipe: Kaiser Rolls.