Sunday, December 21, 2008

Snowed In, Day 2: Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls

We got another few inches of snow overnight, and we woke up to freezing rain, which made a thick crust of ice over the fluffy snow. Reeeeally fun to walk in, even more fun to sled in, but not very fun to drive in, or, as it turns out, to fly in either.

A mess of flights out of PDX were cancelled or delayed today. Difficult for travelers, good business for airport stores and restaurants! When we think airport delays, I'd bet a lot of us think about distracting ourselves with a sweet, icing-slathered roll of dough - yes, the Cinnabon. I don't think we have a Cinnabon franchise at PDX, but I think the urge exists nonetheless.

In honor of my friends and neighbors stranded in our newly-frosted city, I thought I'd create a cinnamon roll using Oregon produce. This time of year, that means one of a few things: winter greens, apples, and root vegetables. While a kale sweet roll would be, well, an experiment, I think sweet potatoes lend themselves a bit more to a tribute dessert.

My roommates Weasel and Greenbriar had a fantastic time sledding down our street, and were more than delighted to be met with a smell of cinnamon sugar and pecans as they peeled off their gloves, scarves, and snow clothes.

After the first bite, Weasel squealed, "You made these... from scratch?" Yes, darlin', it's not like I've got anything else to do. Sooner or later, cabin fever will set in, but until then, we'll be eating well.

Travel safe!

Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls with Maple Cream Cheese Glaze
adapted from Beth Hensperger's Bread Bible

1 medium sweet potato (about 6 ounces), peeled and cut into large chunks
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup (packed) brown sugar
1/4 cup warm water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon salt
5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 1/4 cups (packed) light brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 cup raisins, plumped in hot water and drained
1 cup chopped pecans

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
5 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons real maple syrup
1/4 cup cream cheese, softened
1/4 teaspoon salt

In a medium saucepan, combine the sweet potato chunks with water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and cook uncovered about 20 minutes. Drain the sweet potato, reserving 1 cup of the liquid. let the potato water cool to warm. Meanwhile, process the sweet potato with the butter in a food mill placed over a large bowl, or purée in a food processor until smooth.
Pour the warm water (not the potato water - the other 1/4 cup) in a small bowl. Sprinkle the yeast and a pinch of the brown sugar over the surface of the water. Stir to dissolve and let stand at room temperature until foamy, about 10 minutes.
In a large mixing bowl with a whisk or in the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine the pureed sweet potato, the potato water, yeast mixture, the remaining brown sugar, oil, egg, salt, and 2 cups of flour. Beat hard to combine, about 1 minute. Add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until a shaggy dough that just clears the side of the bowl is formed.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and springy, about 4 minutes, dusting with flour only 1 tablespoon at a time as needed to prevent sticking. If kneading by machine, switch from paddle to dough hook and knead for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and springy and springs back when pressed. If desired, transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead briefly by hand.
Place the dough in a greased deep container. Turn once to coat the top and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Gently deflate the dough and let rise a second time until doubled in bulk, 50 minutes to an hour.
Gently deflate the dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough into two equal portions. Roll out each portion into a 10-by-14 inch rectangle, at least 1/4 inch thick. Brush the surface of each rectangle with the melted butter. Sprinkle the surface of each rectangle evenly with half of the brown sugar, cinnamon, raisins, and pecans, leaving about 1 each around the borders. Starting from the 10 inch end, roll the dough up and pinch seams together. Using a sharp knife, cut each roll into 1 inch slices. Place each slice on baking sheet, at least two inches apart. Cover loosely with with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature just until puffy, about 20 minutes.
Twenty minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the baking sheet on a rack in the center of the oven and bake 30 minutes, or until golden brown and firm to the touch. Prepare glaze by combining the powdered sugar with milk, syrup, cream cheese, and salt, whisking until smooth. Drizzle mixture over over rolls, and let stand until warm. Enjoy!


  1. Now this is a tasty twist on the traditional cinnamon rolls. I love the use of sweet potato in this!

  2. Yum! Those look so good and I love that you made them with sweet potatoes. Maybe tomorrow... So far this snowed in thing isn't half bad!

  3. Your sweet potato cinnamon rolls sound wonderful. Your house must have smelled heavenly.

    We have almost 20 inches of snow at my house. I can't get out of the driveway with 4 wheel drive.
    Ugh. I'm getting tired of being house bound.

    Happy Holidays.

  4. I made these today, Christmas morning, and they were a hit!

  5. I'm so pleased that they were appreciated! What a yummy treat for Christmas morning!

  6. Those cinnamon rolls would be delicious on a cold snowy day :)!

  7. I'm def planning on making these in the near future. Making cinnamon rolls has always made me nervous! But it looks like you've got a solid recipe.

  8. Oh boy. These look devestating!

    I wanted to let you know the March theme for Sugar High Fridays has been posted

    I would love to see you there this month!

  9. This is what I want to eat when I come in from the snow, that's for sure! :)