Sweet Potato Buttermilk Pull-Apart Rolls

Sweet Potato Buttermilk Pull-Apart Rolls

With its luscious mouthfeel and round flavor, the sweet potato is a quintessential soul food ingredient. In this recipe, from “Tanya Holland’s California Soul: Recipes From a Culinary Journey West” (Ten Speed Press, 2022), Ms. Holland uses the vegetable’s texture and flavor as background notes in these buttery pull-apart rolls. While you can make the dough easily using a stand mixer, you can also do it by hand with a whisk, achieving the same finished product. Serve the rolls with room temperature butter for spreading, or alongside a soup, for soaking up broth.
  • Total:
  • Serves: 15 persons



  1. Step 1

    In a small saucepan, combine the sweet potato with enough water to cover. Add 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, then turn down the heat to medium and gently boil until the sweet potato is very tender when pierced with a knife, 10 to 13 minutes.
  2. Step 2

    Drain and transfer the sweet potato to a large bowl. Mash with a potato masher or fork. Add the buttermilk and 1/4 cup of the butter.
  3. Step 3

    If you’re using a stand mixer, beat the sweet potato mixture with a paddle attachment at medium-low speed until fairly smooth, about 5 minutes. Add the flour, yeast, sugar, eggs and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and mix on medium-low speed, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl as needed with a spatula, until the dough is smooth and sticky and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 8 minutes. Add a little more flour if the dough is very sticky.
  4. Step 4

    If you’re using a whisk, beat the sweet potato mixture in the bowl until the mixture is fairly smooth and no lumps remain. Add the flour, yeast, sugar, eggs and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and stir with a wooden spoon until the ingredients are well combined. Dump the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until it becomes smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes; it will be slightly sticky.
  5. Step 5

    Grease the inside of a large bowl with butter. Transfer the dough to the bowl. Cover and let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free spot for about 1 1/2 hours, or until it has more than doubled in size.
  6. Step 6

    Place the dough on a clean, ungreased surface and divide it into 15 equal pieces, each weighing about 65 grams. Working with one piece of dough at a time, cup each piece beneath your palm and work in quick, circular motions to form a tight ball, with only a tiny seam along the bottom.
  7. Step 7

    Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with more butter and arrange the dough balls in evenly spaced rows. Brush the balls with butter, loosely cover the pan and set aside in a warm place until the balls have turned puffy, doubled in size, and fill the pan, about 1 hour.
  8. Step 8

    About 15 minutes before the rolls are done rising, heat the oven to 375 degrees. Bake the rolls until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack. Brush the rolls gently with a little more butter.
  9. Step 9

    Let cool for 10 minutes, and then turn out the rolls onto the rack and invert again so they are bottom-side down. Let cool for about 20 minutes before serving.