Sunday, November 29, 2009

Butternut Squash & Sage Dinner Rolls


Dinner rolls are a great addition to the table to any holiday feast. Rather than serving up the usual white or wheat rolls, I wanted to prepare something more flavorful and colorful as well. Continuing with our Regional Thanksgiving theme we prepared this year, I looked to the New England state of Connecticut for inspiration.

Connecticut has major crops in winter squash including acorn, butternut and buttercup squash. For the following recipe, I used butternut squash and fresh sage to prepare a yeast dough for my rolls. The squash adds such a beautiful orange hue and subtle sweetness to the dough and the sage gives it a nice herbal touch popular in Thanksgiving foods.

Out of convenience, you can use canned butternut squash but I found it tastes much better roasting squash and using that instead. If you want, this could also be prepared ahead, saving you time on the day of...

2 Days Before:
- Roast a small butternut squash with oil and sea salt. Allow it to cool and scoop out the flesh and set aside.

1 Day Before:
- Prepare the dough as written in the recipe below. Place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Chill overnight or until ready to proof and bake.

Day of:
- Allow the chilled dough to come to room temperature... and it will proof a bit.
- Break off pieces of the dough and form into small boules or into knots as indicated in the recipe below.
- Allow to proof for 15 minutes while you preheat the oven and bake.
- Keep the rolls warm in a bread basket, covered with a tea towel before serving.


Butternut Squash & Sage Dinner Rolls
recipe adapted from Country Living

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 envelope instant rapid-rise yeast
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup mashed cooked butternut squash or canned pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon minced fresh sage leaves
1 large egg, for egg wash


Make the dough: In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, pulse together flour, yeast, salt, and sugar until combined. Pour milk into a 2-cup glass measure and add the melted butter and squash. Whisk to mix and, with the processor running, add milk mixture to the dry ingredients. Process until the mixture forms a soft ball that rides the blade -- about 60 seconds. Add a small amount of flour through the feed tube if the mixture sticks to the sides of the bowl.

Knead the dough: Turn the mixture out onto a lightly floured surface and knead by hand 2 or 3 times, adding sage leaves while kneading. Form into a ball and place in a large, lightly buttered bowl. Cover and set aside to rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in bulk -- about 45 minutes. Punch the dough down, turn the bowl over it, and let it rest under the bowl for 5 minutes. Divide the dough into 24 equal pieces.

Bake the rolls
: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter 2 baking pans. Roll each dough piece under the palm of your hand to form a long, skinny string about 10 inches long. Tie each into a knot and space them loosely on the baking sheets.

If you don't want to make knots, you can form each piece of dough into small boules by pulling the dough under itself to form small balls.

Cover and set aside to rise -- about 15 minutes. Whisk egg with 1 tablespoon water and brush over the tops of the rolls. Bake until golden brown -- 20 to 30 minutes. Serve hot or warm with butter.