2 1/4active dry yeast (from a 1 .25-ounce envelope)
3 1/2cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling out
1/4cup firmly packed brown sugar (dark if you have it, but light is fine)
1/4cup granulated sugar
1teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1/2teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8teaspoon ground cardamom (optional)
1/4teaspoon ground ginger
2/3cup sweet potato puree
Oil for coating rising bowl
For the filling
3/4cup firmly packed brown sugar (dark if you have it, but light is fine)
1/4cup granulated sugar
1/8teaspoon table salt
2teaspoons ground cinnamon
1cup finely chopped pecans
For the glaze
4ounces cream cheese, softened
2tablespoons milk or buttermilk
2cups confectioner’s (powdered) sugar, sifted
Few drops vanilla extract (optional)
Make the sweet potato puree:
Preheat your oven to 375F. Wash your sweet potatoes and prick them all over with a fork. Rub them with oil and wrap in aluminum foil. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 30 to 60 minutes, depending on size. Check with a fork after 30 minutes, and if the fork slides through the flesh easily, they’re done. If not, continue to check them every 10 to 15 minutes until they are done.
Let cool for at least 30 minutes, or until you can handle them comfortably.
Peel the skins off the potatoes, they should probably peel off pretty easily. Place flesh in a bowl and mash with a fork or potato masher. Measure out ⅔ of a cup, and eat the rest or save it for another use.
Make the dough:
Brown the butter in a medium saucepan for about 10 minutes or until nutty and golden. Once it starts to brown watch it carefully so it doesn’t burn. Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly.
Heat your milk in a saucepan or in the microwave, until warm but not hot. Too hot (over 116) and you’ll kill the yeast. Combine the warmed milk and yeast in a small bowl and set aside to get slightly foamy, which should take about five to seven minutes.
In the bowl of an electric mixer combine flour, sugars, salt and spices. Add just ¼ cup (not all) of your browned butter and stir to combine. Add yeast-milk mixture, ⅔ cup sweet potato puree and egg, and mix until combined. Switch mixer to a dough hook and run it for 5 minutes on low speed.
Scrape mixture into a large lightly oiled bowl, flip it so the top of the dough is oiled too, and cover with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel. Set aside until doubled in size, about 1 hour, in a draft-free place.
Meanwhile, line the bottom of two 9-inch round cake pans with parchment paper, and butter the paper and the sides of the pan.
Scoop dough onto a very well floured work surface and flour the top of it. Roll the dough out to an approximately 16×11-inch rectangle and brush with reserved browned butter. Stir together the filling ingredients and sprinkle mixture evenly over dough. Starting on the longer side, roll the dough into as tight a spiral as you can. It’s will make a mess and filling will spill from the ends, no big deal. Just sprinkle the stuff that falls out over the pan after you put the rolls in.
With a sharp serrated knife, using as little pressure as possible, gently saw the log with a back-forth motion, trying not to squish it too much. The dough will be really soft so this will be tough, but you can reshape the rolls as you add them to the pan if need be. Cut the log in half, and then cut the halves in half, and again, and again, until you have 16 even rolls.
Divide the 16 rolls between two prepared pans, and sprinkle any fallen filling over them. Arrange the two end pieces cut side up. Cover each pan with plastic wrap and let rise for another 45 minutes.
If you want to do these ahead of time, at this point you can put the pans in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, leave them out for an hour to warm up and finish rising.
minutes before you’re ready to bake them, heat the oven to 350°F. Once they’re finished rising, remove the plastic and bake the buns for 25 minutes, until puffed and golden and smelling like spiced autumn heaven. Meanwhile, make the glaze. Beat the cream cheese until it is smooth, light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla and beat until combined. Drizzle in the milk, a little at a time, until you get the consistency you’re looking for, either thick enough to ice or thin enough to drizzle. Transfer the pans of finished rolls to wire cooling racks and drizzle or ice them with glaze. Eat them while they’re still warm and steamy if you can.