Not only beautiful to behold, this hearty sourdough roll is also downright addictive, featuring the unique flavor combination of earthy sweet potato, za’atar and tahini. It comes from Elaine Boddy’s excellent new book, Easy Everyday Sourdough Bread Baking (Page Street Publishing, 2023), and here’s what Elaine says about it:
“If you like the idea of filled rolls that are not only packed with flavor, but also can be served as part of a vegan meal, these are ideal. I created these for a vegan visitor and the baked sweet potato flesh spreads to a smooth consistency, making it a perfect filling. The addition of za’atar and tahini renders them thoroughly irresistible. To make the filling, I baked two medium sweet potatoes (about 400 grams [14 oz]) whole until they were tender. Once cooled, I scraped out the flesh into a bowl without breaking it up. The baked flesh can then be spread across the dough without needing to puree or mash it.”
Equipment: Have a 12-hole muffin tray ready, preferably nonstick. If your muffin tin is not nonstick, lightly spray or grease inside the wellswith a neutral or flavorless oil or butter.
Makes 12 rolls
- 50 grams (¼ cup) active starter
- 350 grams (1½ cups) water
- 300 grams (2½ cups) strong white bread flour
- 200 grams (2 cups) whole wheat flour
- 7 grams (1 tsp) salt, or to taste
- 200 grams (7 oz) cooked sweet potato flesh
- 18 grams (2 tbsp) za’atar
- 70 grams (¼ cup) tahini (I use Middle Eastern tahini that is thin enough to drizzle)
- In the early evening, in a large mixing bowl, roughly mix together all the ingredients, except the fillings, leaving the dough shaggy. Cover the bowl with a clean shower cap or your choice of cover and leave it on the counter for 2 hours.
- After the rest time, perform the first set of pulls and folds on the dough (see *Note on how to do pulls and folds below); it will be sticky at this point, but stretchy. Cover the bowl and leave it on the counter.
- After 1 more hour, complete one more set of pulls and folds on the dough, covering the bowl afterward. The dough will be nicely stretchy and will easily come together into a firm ball.
- Leave the covered bowl on the counter overnight, typically 8 to 10 hours, at 64 to 68°F (18 to 20°C).
- The next morning, place the dough, untouched but still covered, in the fridge for at least an hour, until you are ready to use it; this could be for lunch, dinner or breakfast the next day. In the fridge, the dough will firm up, making it easier to work with later.
- When you are ready to bake, decide whether you would like to bake in a preheated oven or from a cold start. If preheating, set the oven to 400°F (200°C) convection or 425°F (220°C) conventional. Take your bowl of dough from the fridge. Sprinkle flour over your kitchen counter. Using a bowl scraper or your hands, gently ease the bubbly risen dough from the bowl onto the counter. Use your fingertips to start stretching and pushing out the dough, until it becomes a rectangle that measures 18 x 12 inches (45 x 30 cm) with an even thickness all over. The dough will want to pull back as you stretch it; continue to pull it gently, careful not to make holes in the dough. If the dough starts to tear or seems very hard to stretch, let it rest on the counter for 5 to 10 minutes, allowing the gluten in the dough to relax and try again. Spread the cooked sweet potato flesh evenly all over the stretched dough; it will spread like a paste. Sprinkle the za’atar evenly over the potato, then drizzle with the tahini, right up to the edges. Roll up the dough from one of the longer edges toward the other to make an even, tight roll of dough. Using a dough knife or sharp knife, cut the dough into twelve equal pieces, approximately 1½ inches (4 cm) wide. Place them, cut side down, in the muffin pan hollows. If the coils start to fall apart, or you struggle with the dough holding together, push them into the pan hollows however they come. Do not worry about perfect shaping; the muffin pan will create the roll shapes for you as they bake.
- If you preheated the oven, bake them uncovered for 25 minutes. If you are using a cold start, place the filled muffin pan in the cold oven, set the temperature as above and set a timer for 30 minutes.
- Once they are baked, remove the pan from the oven, carefully remove the rolls and let them sit briefly on a rack before serving. These are wonderful eaten freshly baked, but if you can resist and eat them after a few hours or the next day, the flavors develop even more.
*Note on how to do pulls and folds: A key part of making dough for successful sourdough loaves is the pulling and folding action. These stretches of the dough give the gluten a workout, distribute the starter more evenly throughout the mixture and build up the structure in the dough. To perform these, pick up a small portion of the dough from one side of the bowl and literally pull it upward and fold it right across the bowl of dough to the other side. Turn the bowl a few degrees and repeat the actions, over and over, until the dough comes into a smooth or almost smooth ball. Each recipe will state how many sets of these are necessary and if the dough will come into a firm ball or not. Once the dough comes into a ball, stop, re-cover the bowl and leave the dough to rest until the next actions are required.
Top Tip: If you would prefer to bake the rolls later, follow step 6 to fill, roll and cut up the dough into pieces, and then place the coils into the muffin tin. Cover the tin with a large plastic bag or damp tea towel and place it in the fridge. When you are ready to bake, you can bake them directly from the fridge, following the directions above.
Reprinted with permission from Easy Everyday Sourdough Bread Baking by Elaine Boddy. Page Street Publishing Co. 2023. Photo credit: James Kennedy.