A tradition-starter: Sweet Potato Fridge Rolls

A tradition-starter: Sweet Potato Fridge Rolls

Every time I make a dinner roll, part of me is chasing the recipe that’s lost forever.

If my aunt Carol is the queen of banana bread, my grandma Jan was the duchess of the dinner roll. Everyone knew it, and just like AC’s specialty was always the only one of its kind circulating in our family, grandma Jan’s rolls were uncontested. No point in trying to rival her.

While it was great to let those highly anticpated, golden-brown puffy, roundish squares of bready perfection shine brightly in their own light at every meal we shared as a family, the proceeding generations neglected to learn that recipe and instead pursued other baking prowess. Not intentional, but sometimes things slip through the cracks.

Now my mother, aunt and myself regret not preserving and turning that recipe into a passed-down family tradition at gatherings, holidays and on our own week-night dinner tables (my grandmother, the source of my bread obsession, passed away two years ago – two months before her 100th birthday).

These rolls I’m sharing with you today might actually be my answer to the above problem. They’re that good. Plus, I could sit and stare at them for hours.

Get out your army of baking sheets, create happiness and maybe start a tradition in your family – these rolls not only glow like the setting sun (thanks to the sweet potatoes), they have, as my self-proclaimed dinner roll expert daughter puts it: “all the qualities of a perfect dinner roll, with a hint of sweetness.”

Don’t let the yams deter you, either, if you’ve got picky eaters or veggie haters at your table. I was a bit hesitant because sweet potatoes don’t get lots of love in my house (except from me), but between taste-testings, drive-by nibbling and our actual dinner, there were only a few left the next day out of the large batch the below recipe yields.

Big plus: this dough can be made the day before and left in the fridge overnight, as these rolls are made using a cold rise. They’re not fast to make over all, but two-step process helps and the rolls speak for  themselves (read: hero of the holiday dinner).

To note: When rolling out dough, don’t let it warm up, or you’ll have a hard time keeping it circular when trasferring onto the baking sheets. Also, cut your circles from the outside edge of the dough, working in, and drag cutter out slightly after it cuts through the dough to separate from rest of dough.

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Sweet Potato Fridge Rolls

Approx dough prep: 40 minutes Rise time: overnight or 8 hours Roll and cut: 10 minutes Bake: 12-15 minutes Yield: 3 dozen


3/4 cup plus 3 TBSP butter, melted
1 cup milk
3/4 cup plus 1 tsp sugar
2 1/2 tsp salt, divided
2 envelopes active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (115° F)
2 large eggs
2 cups cooked, mashed sweet potatoes (2 large)
1/2 cup cold water
6-7 cups all-purpose flour


1. Heat 3/4 cup butter and milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat until just under the boiling point. Stir in 3/4 cup sugar and 2 tsp salt until dissolved. Cool completely.

2. Clean, pierce and microwave potatoes until done, scoop out of skins into a small bowl. Mash with a fork.

3. Dissolve yeast and 1 tsp sugar in 1/2 cup warm water. Let stand (proof) about 10 minutes or until foamy.

4. Combine potatoes, eggs and 1/2 tsp salt in a large bowl (or stand mixer), beat at medium speed until smooth. Beat in 1/2 cup cold water

5. Add yeast mixture and cooled milk mixture to potato mixture, beat on low speed until combined (or stir by hand).

6. Add 3 cups flour gradually, beat at medium speed until smooth.

7. Hand-stir in remaining flour until a soft-but-sticky dough forms.

8. Spray a large bowl with nonstick spray, place dough in it and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.

9.  Remove dough from refrigerator and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll dough out to 1/2″ thickness. Cut with a 2 1/2″ round cookie or biscuit cutter and place on lightly greased baking sheets 1/4″ apart. Brush with melted butter, fold in half and press in the center of resulting semi-circle to seal.

10. Let rolls rise in a warm place (85-90° F) until rolls double in size (1-2 hours)

11.  Preheat oven to 400° F. Bake rolls 12-15 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Serve warm or cool on wire rack and store.

Recipe Source: My Recipes

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  1. Yenta Mary says:

    Gorgeous! Absolutely gorgeous! People don’t realize how vital these food traditions are. Neither of my grandmothers left recipes – one left a few scribbled notes about ingredients, nothing more. And now their specialties, the foods they nourished and nurtured their families with, are lost. My father is almost 85, and still his face lights up when he talks about his mother’s bread pudding – it was made in a loaf pan, just white bread with a custard. He’d slice it and spread it with jam. I have tried valiantly, but cannot replicate it. It doesn’t cook properly for me in the deep loaf pan, and I can’t approach the taste memory. Such a loss. Good thing you’re working to avoid this same deficit for your own family!

    • Cindy onceuponaloaf says:

      Mary, exactly. Sometimes we don’t think about these recipes as more than sustinence we’ve got to execute in the midst of a busy life. They are so much more, however! Thanks for your story.

  2. Michelle says:

    When Dave’s grandmother died some of her possessions were auctioned off to family members. I bought all her handwritten recipes. That Christmas I took them, copied and bound them, and gave them to the family as gifts. Not only do we have her infamous delicious recipes, we have the memory of her sitting and writing them down for us. (But I’m the only one who has the ones with the flour and Crisco stains.) When I’m throwing the ingredients together, or kneading the dough, I picture her smiling down on me. Sweet!

    • Cindy onceuponaloaf says:

      Oh, wow. That is wonderful and I am seriously envious right now. However, with my own mom, I can do this – make sure I have everything. That’s a lot. You are so thoughtful to give them as gifts – promoting your family’s traditions!

  3. Alyssa @ Everyday Maven says:

    Wow! These are getting book-marked for our Thanksgiving Dinner!!

  4. Christina says:

    I love this, and I love that it can be made ahead of time. These rolls look so soft and pillowy!

  5. Alli says:

    Yeast scares me but these look so good I may have to tackle my fear.

    • Cindy onceuponaloaf says:

      Alli, I know. It’s never a certain thing when you go into a recipe, but just stay on the horse. These are low-stress b/c they rise in the fridge out of sight! Sooo worth it. I’m debating between these and another amazing roll I’m featuring in three weeks for Easter dinner. Let me know how it goes!

  6. Choc Chip Uru says:

    These rolls look so fluffy and soft – and witht he added flavour of sweet potato? Perfection :D

    Choc Chip Uru

    • Cindy onceuponaloaf says:

      They are. Try them and tell me what you think! Just don’t leave a pile of them around all day the day after…

  7. Meg says:

    Dinner rolls are so special to have at dinner parties! People are always impressed that you made them yourself! I am totally going to try these – I LOVE sweet potatoes!! Thanks for the recipe!

  8. Raquel @ Ovenmitts Blog says:

    How cute are these?! I’m afraid I’d probably eat the whole gosh darn batch… oh well, they’re healthy, right?

    • Cindy onceuponaloaf says:

      Raquel – vitamin A! They are adorable, and they really do glow. And yes, they want you to eat them in double digits. You just have to turn your back to their charms after dinner.

  9. Joanne says:

    There are quite a few of my grandmother’s recipes that I wish I had had the foresight to make her write down before she became senile. Sigh. It happens.

    These rolls look absolutely splendid! I want them to grace my table!

    • Cindy onceuponaloaf says:

      Joanne, hear you. Try these sometime and either give part of the batch to family/friends/neighbors or freeze part. Let me know what you think of them if you try them!

  10. Stacy says:

    These look amazing! I’m so excited you commented on my blog and it lead me to yours. One of my goals this year is to make bread from scratch. I’ve never done this and I’m not a baker at all. Do you have a recipe that you recommend for first timers? I’m thinking as delicious as these dinner rolls look, they might not be the right way to go for a non-baker. Any thoughts?

    • Cindy onceuponaloaf says:

      Hi, Stacy! I’m such a CC fangirl, and so is my daughter! Thanks for coming over. I have many thoughts on first-time bread, and in fact had a great conversation about this yesterday while Skyping with the great PJ Hamel, one of the lead web ladies and bakers from King Arthur Flour. What if we work together on a post and show everyone here how easy it is to start and share what we find? I’ll email you!

  11. A Brown Table says:

    I’ve had sweet potato rolls once before and they were delicious but these look way better and very warm and inviting! Gorgeous!

  12. Todd says:

    These look fantastic. Sweet potatoes in rolls seems like a great combo.

  13. PK says:

    Hi, Cindy! Saw your comment on Nicole’s gluten-free site today. I’m sure a lot of people are anxiously waiting for her tests on the bread recipes! Why don’t you try this recipe with Better Batter and share the results?!

    • Cindy Cindy says:

      Hi, PK, that’s a good idea. I’d love to do a test and share on Facebook after Easter. Thanks for the suggestion!

  14. Patti says:

    Hey, Cindy, did you take any photos DURING the process? I’d love to be able to SEE the baking sheets with the rounds… then after you’ve buttered/pinched them… then after rising. It would really help build confidence in the bread-baking novices!!

    • Cindy Cindy says:

      Hi, Patti! I did take some “during” photos and posted one on LOAF’s Facebook page. You can check it out there. I also took some cutting shots but did not publish them. Great suggestion for future posts – I’d love to show you how I do it! I’ll also be doing some ‘basics’ posts coming up in April, so if you’re new to baking with yeast, stay tuned. Thanks for coming over!

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