By the time you get this email in your inbox, I will be on my way to the southernmost tip of Virginia to spend a few days with my in-laws at their farm. I suspect we will eat a lot (as one normally does with family), I've got a short list of things to do and high up on that list is to check the neighborhood Amish store for lemon pies.
I'm about to find out what travel by air looks like in this new age. I anticipate it won't be fun and I suspect that it will be an interesting experience, to say the least.
On a more exciting note, this week I've got a special fall themed bread recipe for you that's bright and fragrant. We're making sweet potato rolls using roasted sweet potatoes and I'm going to classify them as an all-purpose bread because you could eat it with almost anything and any time.
Sweet Potato Rolls
Today’s cook letter contains the recipe for a very soft and tender sweet potato roll. They’re mildly sweet so you can choose to eat them with dinner, a barbecue, or even with tea (butter and jam). I daresay you could also add them to your Thanksgiving menu and brush them with a bit of melted garlic butter (1 grated garlic clove in ¼ cup/60ml of melted unsalted butter) and top them off with a good sprinkle of flaky salt. You could tweak this in a hundred different ways, to suit your mood.
The Cook’s Notes
Roast sweet potatoes at 400F/200C. There is no need to prick sweet potatoes, the skin can breathe (unlike an eggplant where it can burst). Place the sweet potato on a baking sheet and cook for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, until completely tender, a knife passes through the center without any resistance. Let it cool completely before using or you run the risk of cooking the eggs and potentially killing the yeast. You can do this at least 3 days ahead.
If you want extremely smooth sweet potatoes, mash them in a food processor or a high-speed blender with all the ingredients that go into making the liquid portion of the dough (from the milk to the salt), until smooth.
I prefer to bake the rolls in an aluminum pan, it gives a much better and even browning. Ceramic and glass pans take a bit more time to bake.
Why warm the milk to 110F/43C? This is the best temperature for yeast to grow. Though some of this heat is lost when the mixture meets the other ingredients, overall, it’s a much safer option than heating the milk to a higher temperature as that could affect the proteins in the egg (and the milk too) creating an undesirable gummy texture.
I like to use a mix of butter and olive oil. The olive oil helps the bread stay moist and fresh for a longer period.
Makes 12 rolls
½ cup/60ml whole milk, warmed to 110F/43C
2 oz/55g unsalted butter, cubed at room temperature
1 cup/230g roasted sweet potato, at room temperature (See The Cook’s Notes)
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil plus a little extra to grease the bowl and pan
¼ cup packed/50g light brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp fine sea salt
2 ½ cups/350g all-purpose flour plus a little extra for dusting
1 ½ tsp instant yeast
1 Tbsp milk or water
Warm the milk and butter together in a small saucepan to 110F/43C. Remove from the heat.
In a large mixing bowl, mash the sweet potato with a fork till smooth. It’s fine to have a few tiny specks (not chunks) in there, it will add a little texture to the bread. Whisk in the milk and butter mixture, 1 egg, and 2 Tbsp/30ml olive oil until smooth. Whisk in the brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt until smooth.
Add the flour and yeast to the bowl of a stand mixer. Dry whisk by hand or use the dough hook attachment. Add the sweet potato mixture to the flour, combine over low speed using the dough hook attachment until it just comes together. Stop and scrape the sides of the bowl. Knead over medium-low speed for an additional 4 minutes, until the dough is soft and supple and springs back when gently pressed. Remove the dough from the bowl and transfer to a clean and dry, lightly floured surface and knead by hand to shape the dough into one large bowl. Grease a large bowl with a little oil, place the dough in the bowl, cover with a lid, and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
While the dough rises, grease, and line a 9 inch by 12 inch/23cm by 30.5cm rectangular baking pan with oil and parchment paper.
Transfer the risen dough to a clean and dry, lightly floured surface. Knock the air out of the dough and then knead for one minute, and shape into a large ball. Divide the dough by weight into 12 equal parts, shape each into a ball, and place them in the prepared baking pan. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise for 30 minutes or until doubled in size.
While the dough rises, preheat the oven to 375F/190C.
Whisk the remaining egg with 1 Tbsp of milk or water, until smooth. Remove the cloth from the baking pan and carefully brush the surface of the bread with the egg mixture. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake until the bread rises, turns golden brown, and the internal temperature reaches 200F/95C and a skewer comes out clean, rotate the pan halfway through during cooking, 20 to 25 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let the bread cool in the pan for 5 minutes before removing and transferring to a wire rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature. Store leftovers (if there are any) in a container at room temperature in a cool dark spot (I usually use a paper bag or bread box).
What I'm watching on the plane:
One would think, I'd take the time to sleep on the plane and rest but I've downloaded all the current episodes of Foundation (Apple TV). I might actually end up not sleeping. We also saw the new Bond film - No Time to Die last weekend and I highly recommend it. Without giving anything away, I'd say the end was easy to predict, once we were half through the movie. Still absolutely worth the time and money, especially for a person (like Michael) that loves Ian Fleming's books and the franchise.
Previously on TIACL