This past weekend we had our first big storm of the season and with it came the usual feelings of cozy holiday anticipation. However, for those of us living in one of these charming old New England houses, the quaint image of families warming themselves around the stove is not some old fashioned practice from a bygone era. It’s drafty in here! And since I don’t need much of an excuse to bake bread even without the sound of an icy wind rattling our old wooden windows, today it’s time to turn on the oven and warm things up.
I love everything about these Potato Buttermilk pull-apart rolls. They are soft, chewy, wholesome and so adorably plump. If you prefer you can shape this recipe into two loaves and bake in 9 x 5 inch pans. Of course then you’d miss the satisfaction of ripping them apart and sinking your teeth into a hot buttered hunk of bready deliciousness. But if you prefer a more civilized, sliced-bread experience, be my guest.
I easily converted this recipe from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Baking into a vegan bread, by substituting soy milk mixed with a little vinegar for the buttermilk. It worked beautifully, so feel free to try either way.
Potato Buttermilk Pull-Apart Rolls
1 large russet potato, peeled and cubed
1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups buttermilk or soy milk mixed with 1 Tbs apple cider vinegar
2 packages active dry yeast (4 1/2 teaspoons)
3 cups all purpose flour, plus some for dusting rolls
3 cups whole wheat flour, plus extra if needed
2 Tbs sugar
1 Tbs salt
1/2 unsalted butter or margarine at room temperature (I used Earth Balance Buttery Sticks), plus extra for greasing cake pans
Heavily butter two 10-inch cake pans and set aside.
In a small saucepan, combine the potato and water and bring to a boil. Cook for about 10 minutes, until potato is fork-tender.
Pour the cooked potato cubes and water into a large bowl or the 5 quart bowl of a stand mixer. Mash the potato cubes with a fork. Stir in the buttermilk or curdled soy milk and let cool slightly to ~100 degrees F. Dissolve yeast into potato mixture and let sit about 5 minutes, until foamy. Add the sugar, salt, butter/margarine and 2 or 3 cups of the flour and mix with a wooden spoon or dough hook attachment. Add more flour as needed, until dough forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Knead in mixer or on the a flour-dusted counter for 5-7 minutes.
Form the dough into a tight ball and out into a clean, greased bowl. Grease the top of the dough as well and cover loosely with a piece of plastic wrap and kitchen towel. Set in a warm, draft free spot to rise for ~one hour, until dough doubles in bulk.
Punch dough down on a clean work surface. Cut it in half with a sharp knife or bench scraper. Cut each half into 8 equal pieces (I use a small kitchen scale for accuracy, but you can eyeball it) and roll into balls (you may need to cover the half of dough you are not working with to prevent it from drying out). Roll the pieces into balls and arrange in greased cake pans with one in the center and seven surrounding it. Do the same with the other half of dough and cover both pans with plastic wrap and leave to rise again for 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375 F.
When rolls have risen , dust the tops with a little flour and bake until they are puffed and lightly browned ~25 minutes (a baking thermometer inserted into the rolls should read at about 190 F).
Cool on racks in pans for 5 minutes, then remove from pans and cool for 20 minutes or so.