I made these over a week ago, after roasting more sweet potatoes than I knew what to do with. Most of the potatoes were mashed up as a side dish for dinner, but the leftovers sat in my fridge waiting for an idea to pop into my head. I couldn't get over the idea of putting them into a dough for cinnamon rolls. I had been reading through a new cookbook I received at Christmas time that had a recipe for squash bread; sweetened with maple syrup and spiced with cinnamon, but I had been really craving a warm from the oven cinnamon roll.
It makes perfect sense to add potato to a cinnamon roll when you think about it. Or butternut squash, acorn squash, or even pumpkin for that matter. They all have a distinct sweetness and some water content that would add to an overall soft and tender dough. I just had to try.
I'm so glad I did. The sweetness from the potatoes allowed for no more than a couple tablespoons of maple syrup for added sweetness. The dough was soft and tender on the inside, with the perfect amount of cinnamon sugar. Next time I make these I'll try it with squash and add in some cloves or nutmeg to make a new twist on these.
I know many people get turned off at the idea of making cinnamon rolls, mostly because of the yeast factor, but the best part about these is you can make them however far in advance you want and leave them in the freezer. Then when you're ready, pull them out the night before to rise and in the morning they'll be ready to pop into the oven. I still have a few in my freezer waiting to make their appearence again!
I didn't add any frosting to these for lack of ingredients, but these would be great with a simple sugar glaze and over the top with a cream cheese frosting. I'll leave that decision up to you. The reason I put 4 1/2 - 5 cups of flour is because many times sweet potatoes water content can vary. I ended up needing all 5 cups to get my dough to the right consistency, but you may need less if you notice your dough is fairly dry. If you don't have spelt flour, you could try using whole wheat pastry flour or a mix of all purpose flour and whole wheat for similar results.
Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls
makes 24 rolls
1 cup almond milk, warmed
4 teaspoons yeast
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 cups sweet potatoes, mashed
1 table olive oil
4 1/2 - 5 cups spelt flour, depending on how much water content your potatoes have
1 teaspoons salt
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
6 tablespoons butter, softened
In a large bowl, sprinkle the yeast and maple syrup over the warmed almond milk. Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.
Place the mash sweet potatoes into a large bowl and whisk in the egg, oil, and 1 cup of flour. Add the potato mixture to the yeast mixture and stir until thoroughly blended. Mix in the rest of the flour, 1 cup at a time, blending thoroughly after each addition. The dough should be slightly wet and sticky, but not so much that you can't form it into a ball, you may not need all 5 cups of flour. Knead for 8-10 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic.
Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, cover with a clean towel and let rise in a warm spot for about 1 hour or until doubled in size.
On a floured counter top, cut the dough in half and roll each into a ball. One at a time, roll each ball into a 16-inch by10-inch by 1/2-inch rectangle.
To make the filling, combine the cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl. Spread half the softened butter evenly over the dough and sprinkle half the cinnamon sugar over. Tightly roll the dough, lengthwise and turn seem side down. Cut into 12 equal slices and place cut-side up on a lined or buttered baking sheet. I used a pie dish and placed the rolls about a half inch apart. They will expand as they rise and fill in the space.
Cover, and let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about an hour. I find the best way to make cinnamon rolls is in two days. Do all the steps up until this point, then freeze the dough until you want to use. That way the day you want to enjoy cinnamon rolls in the morning, all you have to do is pull the frozen dough out the night before, place in the dish you want to bake them in, cover with a towel and let stand over night. In the morning you just preheat the oven and pop them in. Easy-peasy.
Heat the oven to 400˚F. You can brush the tops with some almond milk or an egg wash and sprinkle with sugar at this point. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until lightly golden. You don't want to over bake these or they will dry out. Serve warm from the oven, optional icing on top or on the side.