Soft and fluffy Cranberry Sweet Potato Roll for any day, anytime of the year. Bread has become a staple in my home ever since I started making my own bread. Yes, they take time, but for me it is always worth it. I find bread making relaxing and therapeutic at the same time. Not to mention fulfilling. I’ve made quite a lot of homemade bread, both sweet and savory. Some takes a lot more time and some takes less time like this rolls. This bread requires only 1 proofing, which means 1 hour saving time, which means you can have the bread sooner than later.
I was tempted to call this dinner rolls, but decided not to. Although dinner rolls are not only served for dinner, it seems having the word dinner rolls to it makes it sound so restrictive . Also, there’s an expectation that a dinner rolls should come in round shape, for me, not really
I personally do not follow this dinner rolls served on dinner kind of thing, for me it’s a bread rolls that can be served for any meal and it can be made in any shape that I want to. At least that how it is in my world 🙂 so just let it be. You can call your dinner rolls if that is your preference.
This variation was inspired by the Sweet Potato Rolls I shared last year. In fact, it is almost the same recipe but with the addition of dried Cranberry. Small twist but it makes a huge of difference in taste and texture. The Cranberry added a nice texture to this soft bread, and a tangy citrus bits and pieces. Reminds me raisins bread. Cranberry have a stronger tangy flavor than raisins, not as sweet as raisins but it taste good in different way. You can definitely substitute raisins if you do not have Cranberry.
This bread dough uses a small portion of sweet potato, hence the title Sweet Potato Rolls. The addition of Potato in general makes the bread moist and soft, but it could also make it heavy and dense if you do not give the bread dough enough time to rest. Don’t worry, proofing and letting the dough rest is a simple process. You don’t even have to do anything most of the time. You just have to leave it in a warm place to rest.
If this is your first time making homemade bread, please take time to read the additional information in the post. They are basic information but very helpful in getting the understanding of the basic of bread making. Bread making may sound intimidating but they are really not that difficult. Just like other things, it just takes time, practice and getting use to the process. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll eventually love the process
Why Does Dough Need to Rise Twice
I’ve made quite a lot of bread recipes, from all around dinner rolls, versatile sandwich bread, easy burgers buns, creamy brioche bread and beautiful cinnamon rolls. Most of these bread have something in common, they are all yeast bread that requires the dough to rest twice. It takes a lot of time, but for me it is really worth it. But why do we need to let the dough rise twice? There is a science behind all this and some confusing terminologies involved, so I will save us all that effort of remembering those words and get straight to the point. Juts remember two words, flavor and texture. Allowing the dough to rest twice produces better flavor, and chewier texture because it allows yeast more time to get to work. But this doesn’t mean the we cannot produce a soft and fluffy bread with just 1 proofing. There are variety of recipe now a days that do not require as much time as traditional bread, like this recipe that I am sharing with you. A 1 proofing/rise bread recipe that produces the ultimate soft and fluffy texture. You will be pleased to see how it looks like when you take it out from the oven. Even more, you will not be able to stop singing praise for yourself when you taste how good they are. Trust me, this 1 proofing bread rolls did not compromise any texture and flavor. It taste as good as twice proof bread, but with less time required to make it.
Taste as good as twice proof bread, but requires less time
I thought it would it hurt to experiment if I cut the resting time to 60 – 90 minutes instead of 120 minutes or 2 hours. I always noticed that after the first rest period, the dough seems to have rise well enough to make a good rolls. This is assuming of course that the state of the yeast is in perfect condition and the activation process was seamless and no issue at all. So I decided to give it a go and make a 1 proofing rolls. I was blown away with how I turned out! It was as good as the 2 proofing bread, it was so soft, so fluffy and so delicious! I cannot believe I am using delicious to describe this rolls. But they really taste so good even without any spread. I ate 1 roll without any spread right after I took the photo shoot. I am very excited to share this recipe with you. If you are having double thoughts in making homemade rolls at home, start with this recipe. It is so simple, and so easy to make. I have tips below in making homemade bread, be sure to scroll down and read it. These tips were from my actual bread making experience, so I can attest that it really works.
Active Yeast vs. Instant Yeast
Because yeast plays a very important role is making this soft and fluffy bread, let’s take few minutes to understand it. What it is, what are the common types of yeast, the difference among the yeast, and what role the yeast do in bread. I normally encounter 2 types of yeast in most recipes, and in the grocery so I decided to focus on this two types of yeast, although there is a 3rd type “Fresh Yeast” but I never used it.
Types of Yeast
- Active Dry Yeast – This and the Instant Yeast are what I used in most of my bread. In terms of appearance and texture, this kind of yeast are coarser and have bigger granules. It requires to be dissolved in warm water with sugar to activate it. It normally takes 5-10 minutes to do this, and you will now that it’s been “awaken” when bubbles starts to form in the surface of the water, and you would be able to smell it too. This last longer in terms of shelf life and should be kept in a cool dry place. I kept mine in the refrigerator.
- Fast Acting or Instant Yeast – In terms of appearance, this kind of yeast have a finer granules as compared to active dry yeast. This does not require to be dissolved in warm water and sugar. This can be mixed directly with the dry ingredients such as flour, just make sure to keep it away from salt when you mix it as salt can kill the yeast when they touch directly with each other. I normally mix the flour, salt and leavener then I add the instant yeast last. This should also be kept in cool and dry place. You basically save 10 minutes of time when you use instant active yeast as you skip the activation process.
You can interchange active yeast and instant yeast in the recipe, I sometimes do this when I have the other and the recipe calls for the other. You just have to be mindful of the measurement. For dry active yeast you generally need to use half the quantity of fresh yeast stated in the recipe and for instant yeast you need to use 1/4 of the quantity of fresh yeast. The fresh yeast has higher measurement, followed by active yeast, then instant yeast. Let’s say the recipe calls for 30g (1 ounce) of fresh yeast, you can substitute it with 15g (.5 ounce) active dry yeast, or 7g(.25 ounce) instant yeast. Just don’t forget the when you substitute instant yeast with dry active yeast, you have to dissolve it first in warm water to activated it. Do not just mix it along with other dry ingredients unless specified in the recipe.
So, now that’s the basic of yeast. Let’s have a look at some very important tips that we should bear in mind in making yeast bread.
Tips for a Successful Soft Homemade Bread
- Liquid Temperature – Yeast grows in temperature between 105 – 110F, so its important to have the water that you are using to “proof” it in this range. If you go lower or higher, the yeast might not proof properly. That means the bread will not rise as much, resulting to a flat and tough bread.
- Check Yeast Expiry a Date – you might be wondering how come the bread did not rise when you followed exactly the recipe. Well, first thing first, make sure the yeast is not yet expired. Expired yeast is the common reason for flat and dense bread. If your bread did not expand or rise during the rest period, it is most likely that the yeast is not fresh or the water temperature is too hot or cold.
- Amount of Yeast – Just because you want a tall bread doesn’t mean you have to put as much yeast in the mixture. Sometimes adding too much yeast can cause the bread to collapse during the rest period. Just imagine putting more air than what is needed in a balloon, the balloon will explode. The same case with bread.
- Right Type of Yeast – We’ve discussed the 3 types of yeast above. Make sure to use the right one for your recipe, and make necessary adjustments if you want to swap one from another.
- Rest Period – Yeast bread needs time to rise. There are bread that uses less yeast but requires more rest time, the likes of No Knead Bread or Artisan Bread which usually require 8- 16 hours rest period to get the volume and to develop the flavor. There are 1 hour bread like my Rosemary Dinner Rolls which used this same bread dough, and there is 1 proofing only bread like this one. The point is, give it time to rest, don’t touch it just leave it in a warm place. The first rest period (if doing double rest) will normally tell you if your dough is good or not. If it rise and almost double in size, then your on the right track. If working on 1 proofing bread like this, your bread should be puff up after the first and only rest period.
- Expiration and Quality of the Flour – The quality of the flour greatly affect the texture of the bread. All-purpose flour could differ from country to country although they are all called as all-purpose flour. Sometimes it depends on the brand too. The closer the flour to expiration date or if it is already expired, the flour could tend to be drier, which means it would require more liquid than mentioned in the recipe. This is a common issue of way sometimes the dough tend to be tough and dry. This is why sometimes you have to add few more tablespoon from the suggested flour measurement to get the right texture. The dough should be soft, smooth and elastic. If it is too wet, add a bit more flour until it is no longer to sticky to handle. If it is too dry, a small amount of liquid helps provide moisture to the dough. A clean side of the bowl, with the dough slightly sticking at the bottom, a soft, smooth and elastic dough is what You are aiming for.
These are the 6 common points that I remind myself when making homemade bread. Bear this in mind and you’ll sure to have a nice soft homemade bread.
How do I Know if I Made the Bread Dough Correctly?
This is not written on the stone, but so far this is how I check if I am on the right track when it comes to the dough.
- Activating the Yeast – This is the first thing that you should get right, otherwise do NOT proceed. After 5 – 10 minutes you should see a foam forms on top of the water, this is an indication that the yeast is alive. If you do not get this, either the yeast is old or the liquid temperature is too hot or cold. The temperature should be 100F – 110F, lukewarm but not hot.
- Clean Bowl After Kneading – The sides of the bowl should be clean, while the bottom is slightly sticking to the dough. This means that amount of liquid to the flour is correct. Enough to make a clean bowl and still make a slightly wet dough.
- Soft Dough – Soft dough means the amount of flour to liquid is enough. Too much flour could make the bread dense and heavy, and too much liquid could make it too wet. Both will affect how the bread rise in the rest period. Try to push your fingers in the dough, it should leave a “dimple” on the dough and should gradually disappear.
- Smooth Dough Surface – Again, this is a sign of correct flour to liquid ratio. A “bumpy” surface could mean that the dough is dry and tough.
- Elastic Dough – A soft dough is usually elastic. If your dough is dry and tough, it wouldn’t be as elastic when you pull it apart.
- Rest Period – The dough should almost double in size. This is a sign that the activation of the yeast work which is crucial to making a soft and fluffy bread. This also means the yeast is alive (not yet expired) and the liquid temperature is correct. I always use baking thermometer to check the temperature of the liquid. The bread dough should be really puff up and should fill in the gaps between each bread. This is crucial and the final state of the bread before baking. If you are able to make it puff-up, that is a good sign that there are air trapped inside which will make the bread fluffy.
Now that we have a background about Yeast and tips for, bread making, let’s check the recipe.
3 Methods to Make This Dough
- Stand Mixer – This is what I always use when I make this dough. It’s the fastest and easiest method and less manual handling. This is the step outlined below in the instruction – Recommended
- Hand Mixer – Use dough attachment as regular hook attachment will not work. The thick and heavy dough will jam a regular hook attachment. Also, it’s going to be too heavy for the hook attachment to mix the dough
- Manually – If you don’t have any electronic baking equipment for making the dough, you can do it manually. Simply follow the same instructions, do the mixing in a large bowl and transfer in counter top and knead manually. It will take a lot of arm exercise, but I’m telling you, it’s worth it
Tips in Making Sweet Potato Rolls
- Bake the Sweet Potato – I highly recommend baking the sweet potato rather than boiling it. Boiling will add more moisture/water to the sweet potato that could make the dough wet. If you end up with a wet dough, you have to gradually add more flour to get it to the right texture, which is soft, smooth and elastic.
- If you do not have time to bake the sweet potato, you can boil it as a shortcut, just make sure to squeeze excess water.
- Grate or Use Potato Ricer to mash the sweet potato. This produces better texture, with minimal chunks. Do not use blender or food chopper as it could make the consistency almost liquidy. That could make the dough to wet, and you will need to add more flour.
- Try to remove and squeeze as much moisture you can get out of the sweet potato. I like to lightly squeeze it and to remove water and have it transferred in a bowl with paper towel. The paper towel will absorb the moisture
- Baking Pan affects baking time – I am using a ceramic casserole dish which is a good conductor of heat, but the distribution of the heat is slower and do not distribute heat as evenly as aluminum pans. It can also cause over browning of baked products that are high in sugar. If you are using similar pan, cover the top with aluminum foil at 15 minutes baking time or as as soon as you notice the top is browning too much and there is still few more minutes left in baking time.
- If using metal pan, this should be easier to handle as it distributes heat evenly. Th only thing you have to note here is dark metal pans produces darker bake products as it absorb heat faster than light colored pan. Again, just cover the top with aluminum foil. Check the bread at 20 minutes time as baking time could also be less when using this type of pan.
- If using glass pan, this is similar to using a ceramic pan but is more challenging to work with. If you can avoid using glass pan, do so.
- 1/4 cup Milk any percentage (warmed at 110F) or microwave for 20 seconds
- 1 1/4 teaspoon Active Dry Yeast
- 3 tablespoon + 1/2 teaspoon granulated Sugar (Divide: 1/2 teaspoon for yeast and 3 tablespoon for the dry ingredients)
- 1 large Egg – room temperature
- 1/3 cup mashed Sweet Potato
- 1 1/2 cup All-Purpose Flour
- 3/4 teaspoon table Salt
- 1/4 cup Dried Cranberry – chopped in small pieces
- Prepare the Mashed Sweet Potato:Bake the sweet potato at 350F for 45 minutes or until soft enough to mash. Let cool, remove the skin and mash using cheese grater or potato masher. Transfer in a bowl lined with paper towel. Light press to remove excess water. Set aside to cool while you prepare the yeast.
- If Boiling the Sweet Potato: Peel the sweet potato and cut into small cubes. The smaller the cubes, the faster it will cook. Pour water in a pan and add cubed sweet potato. Boil until the sweet potato are cook through and really soft. Drain the water and transfer in a bowl. Mash the sweet potato using a fork, or potato masher, or potato ricer. Light press to remove excess water. You will have more moisture in this method, so squeeze it a little bit m ore to remove the water.
- Activate Yeast: Microwave the milk for 20- 25 seconds until lukewarm but NOT hot, aim for 110F. If you have a baking thermometer, use it as it is the best way to be sure of the temperature. Hot milk will kill the yeast and the bread will not rise properly. Transfer milk in bowl of stand mixer (Refer to discussion above for other Methods of making this) and add 1/2 tsp of the granulated sugar and stir. Add the yeast and let rest for 10 minutes until mixture is foamy. If the mixture did not become foamy, either the yeast is old or the milk is too hot. Do NOT proceed until corrected, otherwise you will end up with a tough dense bread
- Add Wet Ingredients: Set the mixer with paddle attachment and mix in remaining sugar (3 tbsp), egg, mashed sweet potato on low-speed, just to mix every thing together.
- Add Dry Ingredients: Add flour, salt and mix on low-speed until combined, then switch to a hook attachment. Add dried Cranberry. Allow mixture to knead on medium-low speed about 15 minutes until smooth and elastic. If the dough is too sticky add 1 tbsp of flour at a time until the dough comes together, the dough should be slightly sticky, smooth, soft and but not too dry. If too much flour is added, the rolls will be dense and heavy. A good measure of correct texture is a clean mixing bowl with slightly sticky bottom, a soft, smooth and elastic dough just like the photo below.
- Shape: Take the dough out from the bowl and lightly push the dough down with the heel of the palm of your hands. Divide into 6 portions. I used a kitchen weighing scale to portion the dough, you can also just estimate it.
- Roll into a Twist Bun: If you want to make it look more attractive, shape each portion into a twist bun. First, roll into a rope of 12-inch length, then do a circular move to starting from the end of the rope, circle around and then tuck the other end under.
- Rolls into a Ball: If you want to keep it simple and easy, simply shape each portion into a ball, like dinner rolls.
- Arrange in Baking Pan:
- 7-inch Ceramic Dish: Line the ceramic rectangle dish with parchment paper. Arrange each portion side by side.
- Rest Period: Cover and let rest in a warm place for another 60 minutes. Preheat oven to 350F during last 15 minutes of dough rising (or however long it took to re-heat your oven)
- TIP: To help the dough rise faster, leave the covered dough OUTSIDE the pre-heated 350F oven. The top of the oven hot surface will give the dough the heat it needed to rise properly. Alternatively, you can also pre-heat the oven to 110F then turn it OFF and put the covered dough inside, just don’t forget to remove it when you pre-heat the oven later.
- Dust with Icing Sugar: After 60 minutes, the buns will be fully puff-up ready for baking. Lightly dust the top with icing sugar or flour. I use this option if I do not want to crack an egg just to brush the top.
- Alternatively, you can also use egg wash. Brush top with egg wash ( 1 beaten egg + 1 tsp water). Egg wash helps in the browning and gives a nice glossy texture.
- Bake at 350F
- 7-inch Ceramic Dish/Loaf Pan: Bake for 20 – 25 minutes. Remove from the oven at 15 minutes mark and cover the top with aluminum foil to prevent burning the top. Return to the oven and continue baking. Baking time when using loaf pan or deep dish ceramic takes longer because the heat is being blocked by the side covering, and because of the material of the pan itself.
For a plain dinner rolls, check out my All-Around Bread Dough posts
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