The reasons that lead me to bake or cook something are many, but very often it is to use up ingredients that are becoming long-stay guests of my pantry or fridge. I had an open cartoon of buttermilk in my fridge that I don't even remember what I bought it for originally. I also have a 10 pounds bag of russet potatoes that were on sale last week. I normally don't buy that much potatoes, but for less than 2 dollars a bag, I couldn't pass on it. Although this recipe only uses 1 large potato (or 2 smalls), I thought it was a perfect opportunity to try it out. Oh my, I am so glad I did! I loved this rolls so much. They are soft, airy, and not that hard to make actually. It just requires a little time and patience for the few risings to take place. Using a stand mixer with a hook attachment makes it that much easier as well. I made larger rolls and used them to make sandwiches.
This recipe is from the book Essentials of Baking from Williams-Sonoma which was a great bargain I found at a discount store a while ago. It's a great book, but I don't really pay full price on books, specially cookbooks. The link shows a new version though, the one I have is an older one.
Potato-Buttermilk Rolls Recipe:
makes 16 dinner rolls or 12 sandwich buns. You can make this recipe without a stand mixer, just knead dough by hand until it is elastic and smooth.
1 large russet potato (or 2 small ones), peeled and cubed
1 1/2 cups of water
1 1/2 cups of buttermilk
2 packages (5 teaspoons) of active dry yeast
6 cups of all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading and dusting the rolls
2 tablespoons of sugar
1 tablespoon of salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter at room temperature
In a small saucepan bring the water and potato to a boil, cook for 10 minutes until potatoes are soft. Transfer potatoes and water to the bowl of a stand mixer and mash the potatoes with a fork.
Add the buttermilk and check the temperature, it should be close to 110 F/43 C. If it is too hot, let it cool. If it is not warm enough (the buttermilk may have been too cold), take a cup of the liquid and microwave it for 30 seconds, return liquid to bowl and test for temperature again. Once the temperature is right, add the yeast, stir and let it rest for 5 minutes. Add the flour, sugar, salt and butter. Place the bowl on the mixer, attach the hook dough and knead on low speed. If needed, add more flour a little of the time for the dough to come away from the sides of the bowl. Knead for about 5-7 minutes.
Form the dough into a ball and transfer it to a lightly buttered bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm, draft-free spot until it doubles in bulk, about 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees with a rack in the middle. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper, set aside.
Punch out the dough and turn it out onto a clean work surface. Cut the dough into 16 pieces if making dinner rolls or 12 larger pieces if making sandwich rolls. Cover it with a clean towel and let it rest for 5 minutes before proceeding. Roll each piece of dough into a ball and place it on prepared baking trays, spacing them about 2 inches apart. Cover the trays with a clean kitchen towel and let rolls rise again in a warm, draft-free spot until they doubled in size, about 15-30 minutes. If making sandwich rolls, let the dough rise until spongy and pillow-soft when gently squeezed, 30-45 minutes.
Dust the tops of the rolls with a little bit of flour and bake them until the are puffed and lightly browned, 20-25 minutes. Depending on the size of your oven you might need to bake it in two batches. Let it cool slightly before serving (if you can!!!)
Hope you enjoy it!