Having now made something with yeast 11 times this year, I was feeling a bit bold. I decided to volunteer to make the rolls for the Thanksgiving feast. I really was getting away with the easiest job since my poor mother agreed to make everything else! It seemed like a good idea at the time but as the day got closer, I got nervous. I pored over lots of roll recipes looking for hints about the ability to bake ahead and simply reheat on the day of the feast. I knew my mom’s oven was not going to have enough room to take and bake the rolls at the actual dinner.
I knew I had my winner when I found a recipe for Amish potato rolls. They start with 1 cup of mashed potatoes and the recipe specifically stated that they could keep for several days. Or freeze for longer. It also helped my confidence to use a recipe that came off the King Arthur flour website so I knew it had likely been tested and would be reliable.
Once again, I got in my own way a bit. I had a large white potato and a handful of yellow potatoes from the farm. I set about boiling and mashing the potatoes the night before I was scheduled to make the rolls, but I was tired. So I didn’t peel the potatoes. I just made them like I always do, skins and all. And when they were tender I poured off the water like always (the recipe suggests adding 3/4 c. water in which the potatoes had boiled, but I didn’t read that part until the next day…!) and mashed them, and then thought to myself, “uh oh. I bet the peels will be a problem.”
Doh, as Homer Simpson would say.
When I started to make the bread, I spent the first little bit picking out potato skins from my mashed potatoes. I ended up with a cup of potato that was MOSTLY clean, but you’ll notice in the pictures that there are still a few that got through.
I also didn’t have the reserved potato water but that was not such a tragedy. Having it, however, probably would have added both starch and flavor. Next time. Maybe.
Otherwise, it’s a pretty simple recipe. In a bowl, you mix all of the ingredients:
- 1 c. mashed potatoes
- 2 eggs
- 1/3 c. sugar
- 2 t. salt
- 6 T softened butter (mine was almost melted)
- 1 package yeast
- 3/4 c. lukewarm water (since my butter was melted, I erred on the side of coolness in the water)
Once this was combined, I mixed in 4 c. flour. The recipe calls for 4 1/4 c. flour. If I had been using my stand mixer, I would have just added in the full amount and let it go until a ball was formed in the mixing bowl after some “kneading” by the machine. Since I was working by hand, I mixed in just under 4 cups of flour and then put the remaining flour on a surface and kneaded my shaggy blob into a relatively smooth ball and then put that in a bowl to rise for 2 hours.
I had worked later than I had hoped so by the time this went into a bowl for the FIRST rise, it was already after 7 p.m. To try to speed things up just a little bit, I did a very quick preheat in the oven — just a few minutes — and then turned it off to keep some residual heat in the oven. I covered the dough as directed with cling wrap and then let it do its thing.
In a little less than 2 hours, I was ready to go. The dough has risen to the top of the bowl and I could at least know my yeast was doing its thing and hadn’t died.
I turned the ball out on to a piece of parchment paper and set to dividing up the ball into smaller roll sized pieces. The recipe suggests cutting into 16 or 24 balls. I did 16. I assumed all 16 would fit into my 9 x 13 inch baking pan, but things looked pretty tight with just 12 so I put the remaining 4 in to a pie plate to bake separately.
Again, now you’re supposed to let things rise for about 2 hours. By now, it was getting late and I was afraid I’d be up until midnight at the rate I was going. And it was Wednesday — the night before Thanksgiving. I did another preheat for minutes in the oven, turned it off, and set my rising rolls into the oven. In about 90 minutes, I was ready to bake. I removed the rolls from the oven where they were resting/rising at 60 minutes and preheated the oven to 350 degrees during the last 30 minutes of rise time.
The recipe says to bake 20-25 minutes. My bakes was closer to 22 minutes. When they came out of the oven, I brushed the tops with melted butter. They looked and smelled fantastic. Since I had the extra rolls in the pie plate, I immediately stuffed my face with a roll with melted butter and honey. HEAVEN!
I was supposed to let them cool completely and then wrap them for storage. But it was already after 11 p.m.
I did a quick 30 minute cool of the oven — open the door fully to let all of the heat out as soon as possible and leave it open for a while — and then put the rolls on racks into the oven to finish cooling AND to keep them from tempting the cat. I got in bed, set an alarm for 3 hours, and then when it went off, I got up, went to the kitchen, and put the rolls in parchment and aluminum foil to keep them from drying out and to make sure they were “oven ready” for reheating at my mom’s place. Surprisingly, this task didn’t really wake me up and I fell back asleep at 3-something in the morning.
Other than being a bit sleepier than usual from the middle-of-the-night wrapping of the rolls, I felt pretty good about the finished product. I had another roll for breakfast with some cherry jam. The jam wasn’t great, but the roll was awesome.
They reheated well at the actual dinner and I thought they were super tasty with just butter or with jam. I looked at the rolls selected by my parents to be on the lookout for random potato peels. If anybody saw one, they didn’t say anything.
I would definitely make them again…but I’d remember to peel the potatoes.