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Pillowy Potato Rolls

Reminiscent of those nostalgic little rolls you’d find in a certain orange bag this recipe for pillowy-soft bread pulls apart like cotton candy and tastes like what I imagine bread is heaven does. You can lay your head down and take a carby nap on their surface, but really I recommend eating them.

Civilizations have been built on bread, gone to war for bread, and have survived because of access to bread. I truly believe there’s something imprinted on human DNA that longs for and is comforted by this ancient staple. Smelling fresh baking bread triggers and excitement in me that is completely unrivaled. It’s better than getting a surprise package in the mail, better than a perfect 72 degree day with warm sunshine but not enough to burn you, it’s better than wearing a new cardigan for the first time when it still smells like the expensive store you bought it from. It’s the stuff on which the most holy of foods, the sandwich is built upon. And so I offer up to you my most prized bread recipe. (Sorry sourdough lovers, we’re using dry yeast in it. Because it’s just more consistent and these puppies need stability and a strong father figure.) This recipe is amazingly versatile. You can use plain boiled potatoes that have been mashed up, the inside of baked potatoes, sweet potatoes, purple sweet potatoes, and of course leftover mashed potatoes riddled with butter and sour cream. You can use cooled starchy potato water for hydration, tap water, milk, and even buttermilk. I’ve made this recipe so many times and have tweaked it until it’s absolutely fail-proof. This dough can be used to make cinnamon rolls, garlic knots, hamburger buns, or shaped into a loaf. I hope you enjoy shoving these rolls into your mouth until your vision blurs and you’re breathing so heavy you begin to perspire. And I hope when you do, your sweat smells of sweet sweet bread so that you can attract a mate who enjoys bread as much as I do.

Yield: 24 dinner rolls


  • 1 Cup cool water or milk (I recommend using the cooled starchy water from boiling potatoes or pasta)
  • 1/4 Cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp instant dry yeast
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 oz butter chunks, cold
  • 2 Tbsp milk powder (omit if using milk)
  • 2 Cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 Cups bread flour
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup mashed potatoes
  • 1 Tbsp butter or pan spray for greasing pan
  • Egg wash as needed ( 1 egg whisked with 1 Tbsp cream)
  • Flaky sea salt/seeds/herbs/grated cheese for garnish as needed


  1. Place water or milk, sugar, and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk to combine. Set aside until foamy. Approximately 5-10 minutes.
  2. Place eggs, butter, milk powder, flours, salt, and potatoes in the bowl with the yeast mixture. With a dough hook mix on low speed for 4 minutes or until ingredients are fully combined and the flour is hydrated.
  3. Turn the mixer up to medium high speed and mix until the dough is smooth and elastic. Approximately 15 minutes. By using cold ingredients there’s less chance of breaking the fat out of the dough while mixing and getting a greasy product. It will take some time to develop gluten because this dough is heavily enriched.
  4. Place dough in a clean bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight. It’s important to chill the dough to develop flavor but also because it’s very difficult to shape when it’s not cold.
  5. Grease a 9” x 13” baking pan with butter or pan release spray.
  6. Cut cold dough into 4 pieces and then each quarter into 6 giving you 24 chunks of relatively the same size.
  7. To shape flatten chunk of dough on a lightly floured surface into a square. Bring corners of the square into the center of the dough. Fold dough edges on itself once more to make a round lump of dough. Turn the dough seam side down and roll into a tight ball using a cupped hand.
  8. Place finished roll in pan. Repeat shaping remaining rolls and arrange 4 rolls wide by 6 rows deep. Rolls will be touching.
  9. Cover and let rise in a warm spot for 60-90 minutes or until the rolls have doubled in size. Well proofed dough should feel like a soft marshmallow that barely spring back when tapped with a finger.
  10. Preheat oven to 350F.
  11. Brush the tops of the rolls lightly with egg wash. If topping with salt/seeds/cheese top rolls now.
  12. Bake for approximately 45 minutes or until fully brown on top and internally 200F when temped.
  13. Cool and enjoy!
Dough is not ready at this stage and is still too sticky
Dough is almost ready. It looks smoother and has picked up dough from the edges.
Finished dough. Smooth and elastic.
Dough proofed in oiled rings and baked for burger buns
Recipe made with purple sweet potatoes
1 batch can make 8 rolls, 4 brat buns, and a cheese garlic bread loaf
Braided dough

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