Fall is in the air, sort of. It’s still 90 degrees here, but after Labor Day, it’s like a switch goes off and all of a sudden it’s pumpkin EVERYTHING. Lattes, candles, Little Debbie cakes. If it’s possible to put pumpkin spice on a thing, someone has already done it. My friends, why settle for pumpkin everything when you could have Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls.
Remember the brown butter cinnamon rolls I made last year? Probably not, because my readership is hovering around 500. I appreciate all 500 readers(!!) For the newbies, this recipe is completely different. If you are afraid to color outside the lines, that’s the recipe you want. If you’re willing to be brave and try something new then sweet potato cinnamon rolls are for you.
Why would you eat pumpkin spice when there is a perfectly good alternative: Sweet Potatoes.
I made a quick list of all the reasons why you should add sweet potatoes to your cinnamon rolls:
- Sweet Potatoes are cheap. You can buy a pound for like 35 cents. If you don’t like them, you haven’t made a huge investment.
- The extra starch from the sweet potato basically guarantees a moist fluffy crumb. This addition makes the cinnamon rolls melt in your mouth.
- Sweet Potatoes manage to be both savory and sweet bringing all kinds of flavor to your baking.
Sweet Potatoes + Brown Butter Cinnamon Filling + Cream Cheese Frosting.
The savoriness of the sweet potato added to the dough,followed by the warmth of the cinnamon combined with the nuttiness of the brown butter and finally the tanginess of the cream cheese. It was almost too much but also everything all at the same time.
I *might* have danced a shimmy after eating the first bite. Okay, maybe it was an all out revival-like praise dance. While a sweet potato cinnamon roll is not something that I ever encountered growing up, this might be the most southern thing I’ve ever eaten. No exaggeration. Melt in your mouth, fight over the last one cinnamon roll goodness.
- This recipe requires planning because there are several things that need a bit of lead time. The sweet potatoes must be roasted the day before and the puree needs to be cold before you start mixing the dough.
- Make sure you do not add anything to the roasted sweet potatoes when you puree. Specifically, DO NOT ADD MILK to the sweet potatoes! In my second attempt, I got fancy and tried to use my Vitamix. Fun Fact when you blend with a Vitamix you need some liquid. That ½ cup of milk messed up my dough. I recommend using a food processor if you have one.
- Brace yourselves. You are going to make browned butter twice. Brown butter is SO luxurious, it just adds so much warmth to the cinnamon rolls. You won’t regret it.
If you don’t know how to make sweet potato puree, check out my step by step process which includes my non-scientific “Squeeze Test” method.
What about saving cinnamon rolls for later?
There are a few schools of thought on freezing cinnamon rolls. You can
a) shape and freeze before the second rise bake the cinnamon rolls,
b) parbake the cinnamon rolls and then freeze and finishing baking later or
c) make the cinnamon rolls completely and freeze the finished product.
I love this post I found on joyfullythriving.com because Kristen tries all methods mentioned and shares a nice run down on what to consider when choosing your approach.
I am team on bake, frost and freeze. Surprised? I sure as hell was. I *just knew* that freezing before the second rise would be the better experience. But I don’t have my life together like that. This requires a thaw in the refrigerator and then they need to sit on the counter for an hour or two. Ain’t nobody got time for that. You could just make them from scratch in that amount of time.
With the third method, you bake the cinnamon rolls, frost them, let them cool COMPLETELY. Then I freeze them in “packs” of 2 or 4. Why? Because on a Saturday morning 2 months later when I just want a cinnamon roll, I can pull out 2, microwave them for 30-45 seconds and have instant brunch. Just add the mimosas.
Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls with double the browned butter, cinnamon and a tangy cream cheese frosting.
For the Dough
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 3 ½ cups all purpose flour
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 2 tsp instant dry yeast
- 1 ¾ tsp kosher salt
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- ½ cup milk
- 1 cup cold sweet potato puree
For the Filling
- 1 stick of butter (softened.)
- ¾ cup light brown sugar
- 2 tbsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- ¼ tsp salt
For the frosting
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 4 ounces cream cheese (softened)
- 1 tbsp whole milk
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp sea salt
Make the Dough
- In a heavy bottomed pot melt the stick of butter over medium heat. Continue cooking until flecks of brown begin to collect on the bottom of the pot, and the butter smells “nutty”. Remove from the stove and cool the browned butter to 115ºThis should take about 10 to 15 minutes. Don’t let the butter cool too much, because the heat from the butter will activate the yeast.
- In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, stir together the flour, sugar, yeast and kosher salt and baking soda until combined.
- Stir the cold sweet potato and milk in the pot with the slightly cooled butter. Add this mixture to the flour mixture and stir with spatula to create a shaggy dough.
- Fit the stand mixer with the dough hook and knead on low speed until smooth, about 20 minutes.
- Spray a large bowl with cooking spray. Cover with plastic wrap and place the dough in a warm spot about 70ºF to 75ºF for 90 minutes until the dough is puffy and has doubled in size.
Make the Filling
- In a small saucepan brown the butter over medium heat. Stir the butter frequently and remove from heat once the butter begins to brown and smells slightly nutty. Set aside to cool.
- In a medium bowl whisk together the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
Assemble the Rolls
- Prepare a 9×13 baking dish with an aluminum foil sling by laying two long pieces of foil perpendicular to the pan, allowing the foil to hang over the sides. Spray the foil with non-stick cooking spray.
- Sprinkle a clean work surface with flour and roll the dough into a 13 inch square. Brush the brown butter evenly across the dough leaving a ½ inch border on the edges. Evenly sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture on the dough. Taking care to make sure every inch of dough has filling. Roll the dough from the side closest to you in a tight cylinder. Press the dough at the end together creating a tight seam.
- Using a bench scraper cut the rolls into 12 pieces and place in the prepared pan. Cover the pan with foil and refrigerate overnight.
Bake the Rolls
- Preheat the oven to 350ºPull the cinnamon rolls out of the refrigerator and sit them on the counter while the oven is warming. Bake the rolls covered for 45 minutes, remove the foil and bake for another 10-15 minutes to reach desired brownness.
Make the Cream Cheese frosting
- While the cinnamon rolls are in oven, start the frosting. In a medium bowl, beat together the cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla extract and salt until smooth.
Finish the Cinnamon Rolls
- Spread a half cup of the frosting on the rolls immediately after the rolls come out of the oven. Let the rolls cool slightly, for 10-15 minutes before adding the remainder of the frosting.