Just before Thanksgiving, the Washington Post Food Section produced a story featuring classic recipes from legendary chefs, updated slightly for the modern Thanksgiving table; included were Fannie Merritt Farmer's cranberry sauce, Edna Lewis' turnip soup, Julia Childs and Jacque Pepin's deconstructed turkey. Each of the dished looked appealing, but I immediately printed the recipe for James Beard Sweet Potato Dinner Rolls, and they took place front and center on our Thanksgiving table this year.
- This was the first James Beard bread recipe that I've baked, although I've always heard of Beard on Bread.
- I used fresh yeast rather than active dry yeast.
- Since I used my food processor to mix the dough, I started with the dry ingredients and mixed in the wet ones. The dough was a bit sticky until I kneaded it on an oiled counter. Afterwards it was silky and supple, and a lovely pale apricot color.
- The fresh yeast rose very quickly in my kitchen.
- I formed the rolls into 2 ounce balls in two glass pie plates.
- I tried the par-baking approach with my rolls, baking them about 12 minutes until they were puffed and a bit golden on top, but as they cooled they fell and were a bit smooshy towards the center of the pie pan. My guess it that it was the glass pie plate. After reheating, the rolls in the outer ring were baked perfectly. The inner rolls were flat (but still tasty).
These rolls might have been my favorite part of an exceptionally delicious Thanksgiving dinner. It was a little unreal to think that I'd baked the rolls, when just a year earlier I'd never baked anything with yeast. Additionally, these were perfect dinner rolls: soft and golden, a tiny bit sweet, with an inside crumb that just melted in the mouth. The (relatively minor amount of ) sweet potato wasn't particularly noticeable in the flavor but help contribute tenderness and a lovely color to the crumb.
The rolls made wonderful sandwiches with leftover turkey and cranberry sauce. I plan to make these rolls a tradition with Thanksgiving dinner, but I might not wait an entire year to bake them again!
I'm submitting this bread to Yeastspotting, a weekly roundup of extraordinary bread baked in home ovens throughout the world. Stop by on Fridays to check out the bounty of yeasty goodness.