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Sweet potato and anise rolls

February 10, 2013

DSC_0840 These rolls are sweeter than the regular dinner variety but are good as a morning bread with coffee.  The sweet potato doesn’t really add much flavor but does contribute moisture and a nice light yellow-orange color to the crumb.  Recipes I came across used only a small amount of sugar as for dinner bread rolls. I wanted these to be a sweet bread that incorporated anise seeds.  Pan de anis, along with other Mexican sweet breads like conchas, Campechanas, cuernos, and empanadas, were a staple in our Sunday morning family breakfast.  The sweet, soft, and airy pan de anis you find in the bakeries is always made without the sweet potato and  is usually formed into more of a fat disc shape anywhere from 5 to 8 or more inches in diameter.  As far as sweet potatoes, in Mexico they are used to make candy and also to bake and then glaze with a sweet syrup made with sugar or piloncillo. I am not familiar with a traditional Mexican sweet potato bread but perhaps there exists a regional version.

 

For 10 rolls:

2 cups bread flour

4 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon instant yeast

1 scant teaspoon of salt

1 egg lightly beaten

3 tablespoons melted butter

Generous 1/3 cup mashed sweet potato

about 1/4 cup water

2 1/2 teaspoons anise seeds

For optional glaze: 1 egg lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water

 

Anise seeds for sprinkling

Bake a medium size sweet potato in a 350 degree oven until just tender.  Remove and let cool.

Meanwhile gather the rest of the ingredients.

Mix the flour, sugar,  instant yeast, and salt together in your mixing bowl.  Next add the egg and butter to mix.  Add the generous 1/3 cup of the cooled down and peeled sweet potato and mix together.  You may not need all of the potato.  Add about half the water and mix by hand or spatula to a rough shaggy dough.  Start mixing with your mixer using the dough hook attachment.  Slowly add more water until a slightly sticky dough forms.  Careful with the amount of water you add because the sweet potato will release moisture of its own. Adjust with more flour if you need to.  Continue kneading for about  5-6 minutes.  Finally add in the anise seeds and incorporate.  I have been leaving the final dough so that it still sticks to the bottom of the bowl.  Remove from the mixing bowl, shape into a ball, put it into a lightly vegetable-oiled bowl. Roll it around the oil to make sure it is oiled on the top side. Cover with plastic, and let rise until 1 1/2 to almost twice in size.   It may take more than an hour depending on the ambient temperature.

Remove the dough from the bowl,  degass it,  and divide into 10 portions.  Form them into balls and lightly press down to flatten a bit. Put them on a greased baking sheet about 2 inches apart.  Cover with plastic and let them proof until they swell to almost double in size. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. DSC_0772

If are you glazing the rolls, brush the egg/water mixture on them and sprinkle with anise seeds if desired just before baking.  Or you can just brush with melted butter. Place the rolls in the pre-heated oven and bake about 15-20 minutes. They should turn golden brown.  Keep an eye on the rolls so that they do not brown too quickly. Cover with aluminum foil if necessary. When they are done, place them on a wire rack to cool. These rolls taste better when they have cooled down somewhat.

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Observations:  I tried using anise extract. Even though it added good flavor, in my opinion,  the alcohol was too harsh on the tongue. I also tried using more sweet potato in the recipe for more flavor. Even a double amount didn’t do much difference except to change the texture of the dough. I was concerned that more of the sweet potato would interfere with gluten development. I also used anise flavored water for the liquid by bringing 2 tablespoons of anise seeds and 1/2 cup water to boil then slowly simmering down to 1/4 water.  It didn’t seem to add much flavor to the dough.

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I think adding orange zest or a bit of orange blossom water would be worth a try for the next batch.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 16, 2013 1:29 am

    Thanks very much! I am enjoying visiting your very inspiring and informative blog!

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