Sweet Potato Brioche Cinnamon Rolls with Maple Butter
Last weekend, I had made a cinnamon-swirl bread with sweet potato in the dough, during my weekend stint as “Campmaster”. In preparation for making that bread, I had baked up and mashed a sweet potato at home prior to leaving for camp–an ingredient I promptly forgot when I left the house, which meant I had to buy another sweet potato to use en route.
It also meant I had some leftover mashed sweet potato sitting in the fridge at home, which leads us directly to breakfast this weekend. The bread I made last week was just a little on the lean side, and I wanted to give it a try taking it toward brioche (which is, if nothing else, not lean.) By fortuitous circumstance, Michael Ruhlman’s brioche post from a year or so ago was reposted this week, which pretty much made my mind up. I figured I’d do something a bit different than the usual confectioners sugar glaze to top them, and since the folks over at America's Test Kitchen posted a recipe for maple butter (a.k.a. maple cream) this week–Woohoo! Convergence!
Unfortunately, Mr. Ruhlman hasn’t described a ratio for brioche, so I took a look at his and a few other recipes and figured a good middle ground would be to add about half as much butter and egg, by weight, as I had flour in the recipe, and to add just a little sugar to sweeten the dough as well. I guess we could call a 10:6:5:5:2 ratio of flour:milk:butter🍳sugar a good starting point, not that that exactly rolls off the tongue. Adjusted like I did last week for the addition of the sweet potato to arrive at the amounts here (assuming the potato substitutes for roughly 2 oz. flour and 4 oz. of liquid).
As when I’ve done cinnamon rolls or breakfast in the past, I got everything completely ready, minus the baking, the night before, then kept the ready-to-bake rolls in the fridge covered in plastic wrap until morning. These aren’t overly sweet, and I think my kids would have preferred about twice the amount of maple butter I used, but I think that would have overpowered the buttery, tender flavor of the brioche too much.
It was a beautiful morning this morning (if a little, er, brisk), so I just took a few quick shots in the dappled light on the table on my patio.
For the sponge
4 oz. milk, heated gently to about 110°F
2 oz. all-purpose flour
1 pkg. (2 1/4 tsp.) active dry yeast
For the dough
1 medium sweet potato, baked, peeled, and mashed smooth (about 6 oz.)
12 oz. all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
8 oz. unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into tablespoon-sized pieces
heavy pinch of kosher salt (about 1/2 tsp.)
2 oz. granulated sugar
For the filling
3 tbl. melted butter
3/4 c. light brown sugar
1 tbl. cinnamon
about 3/4 c. prepared maple butter for glazing
Start by making the sponge. Mix the flour and yeast together in the bowl of your stand mixer, and stir in the milk. Let sit at room temperature for about an hour until a wet, bubbly mass forms.
Put the bowl on your mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the mashed sweet potato, and turn to medium-low speed. Add the eggs one at a time, then reduce the speed a bit and add the flour, sugar, and salt. When no streaks of dry flour remain, turn the mixer to medium speed and add the butter in 4 or 5 additions, waiting until the butter is fully incorporated between additions. Change the paddle for the dough hook and knead for another 4 minutes, until the dough starts to smooth out (it will be elastic, but soft and a bit sticky). Turn out onto a floured surface, shape into a ball, place in a bowl sprayed with cooking spray, then cover lightly with plastic wrap and a towel and let rise until doubled, about 60-90 minutes.
Spray the inside of a 13"x9" cake pan with cooking spray (or grease the pan with butter).
Punch the dough down lightly after this rise, turn out onto a floured surface, and roll out into a 18"x24" rectangle. Brush all but a 1/2" strip along one 18" edge with butter, then sprinkle on the cinnamon and brown sugar to coat the buttered area evenly. Working from the edge opposite the one you left unbuttered, roll into an 18" cylinder, and pinch the seam to seal. Cut carefully into 12 equal rounds (I used a thin knife sprayed with cooking spray) and arrange the rounds into the cake pan in a 4 by 3 grid. Cover lightly and let rise again. Transfer to the refrigerator after rising if not baking immediately.
When ready to bake, allow the rolls to warm up a bit first if they were refrigerated (I put them into the cold oven, and put a cake pan with a few cups of boiling water on the oven floor for about 15 minutes, then removed both from the oven to preheat it). Preheat the oven to 350°F, and bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes. The tops will be a light golden brown, and the interior of the bread will register 190°F or a bit over. Glaze with the maple butter while hot, and serve warm.
Makes 12 large cinnamon rolls.