Sweet potato buns – How can you resist serving something with such a cute name at your Thanksgiving table? We often make potato buns with regular white potatoes, but when we saw these gorgeous organic baby garnet yams from Melissa’s, we knew we were going to want to use them for anything and everything, including our traditional Thanksgiving buns.
You can pick these babies out of a crowd because of their light purple/red skin. Inside they’re a vibrant yellow-orange, and they’re even more brilliant once they’re cooked. To make these sweet potato buns, we took Mom’s old recipe and swapped out the white potatoes for sweet potatoes. The end result is a bun that’s a little bit sweeter, and it has just the right golden-orange hue to fit in perfectly at your Thanksgiving table.
Confused about the difference between yams and sweet potatoes? You’re not alone. What many produce marketers call “yams” in this country are still technically sweet potatoes. A true yam is starchy and dry, not sweet (and it’s from a whole different family of plants, but that’s getting way too technical). For further clarification, see this article from Melissa’s on yams vs. sweet potatoes.
Sweet Potato Buns
1 package active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
2 small baby garnet yams, or other small sweet potatoes, baked
3/4 cup scalded milk (see note)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup sugar
3 1/2 to 4 cups flour
1/4 cup melted butter
Additional 2 T. melted butter for brushing
Soften the yeast in the warm water. Next peel the baby yams and mash them in a large bowl. Add the scalded milk, salt, and sugar; cool to lukewarm. Add the yeast mixture and stir to combine. Add 2 cups of the flour and mix until smooth; stir in butter and well-beaten egg. Add remaining flour gradually and knead the dough until it is smooth and satiny. (It should be a light orange color and it should have just barely enough flour in it so that it doesn’t stick to your fingers.) Place the dough in a well-greased bowl, cover it with a towel, and let it rise in a warm place until it is doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
After it has risen, turn the dough out on a lightly floured board, punch it down, and allow it to rest for 10 minutes. Divide the dough into 24 pieces and form each piece into a ball. Place the dough balls on greased cookie sheets about 2 inches apart. Brush them lightly with melted butter, cover them with a towel, and again allow them to rise until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.
Bake in a preheated oven for 12 to 14 minutes, or until light golden brown. Serves 12.
Note: Scalded milk refers to milk that has been heated to 180 degrees Fahrenheit, or just below boiling. Heat it in a shallow saucepan until you see tiny bubbles forming around the edge; then remove it from the heat.
Baking these with your kids? They can help throughout the whole process: mashing the sweet potatoes, kneading and mixing the dough, rolling the dough into balls, and brushing the butter on top. Make it a family project!