On a search for definitive Southern cookbooks I came across a list from Sean Brock. In that list was The Kentucky Housewife (it can be found in full online†). Occasionally I wander off to read through these old recipes and see if there’s any tips I can pick out, or recipes that would work well with vegetables. Since I’ve been baking more the bread section of The Kentucky Housewife interested me a good bit and the potato rolls sounded perfect! After experimenting with this I think I’ve nailed down a nice, yeasty dinner roll than would be SUPER flexible with whatever your schedule may be (you could prep in the AM, let them sit in the fridge all day, bake before dinner). I’ve adapted this to work with the slower fermenting sourdough starter I keep on hand. If you’re new to sourdough baking this would be a pretty forgiving first attempt. Keep in mind these aren’t buttery, super light rolls. They are delicious, but at least the way I’ve interpreted them, they’re a little more rustic.
†While you can certainly order this book online it’s also archived as part of archive.org and the full text can be found here, https://archive.org/stream/kentuckyhousewif00whit#page/n3/mode/2up
Here’s the original recipe:
I don’t add any extra butter, oil, milk or anything to the tops of these. I don’t think they need it. However, it would taste good 😀 Here’s a few photos from my process.
- 500g flour (100g 85 extraction or wheat, 400g white bread)
- 20g white/wheat flour mix
- 200g boiled potato, whole
- 100ml potato liquid
- 10ml oil
- 10g sourdough starter
- 100ml water (divided in half)
- 8g salt
- Boil the potatoes whole, then peel after. Reserve the boiling liquid. Blanching the potatoes makes quick work of the skins and waiting for the potatoes to cool.
- Mash the potatoes, 20g of flour, 10g of oil and 100g of potato liquid together into a thin mush.
- When this is cooled to body temperature add the 10g of starter and mix well. Let sit overnight, 9-12 hours.
- The next morning add the 500g flour, 50ml of the 100ml water, mix until no dry bits of flour left. Rest for 20 minutes.
- Dissolve the 8g of salt in the remaining 50ml of water. Add to the dough, begin kneading. It’s going to fall apart at first, don’t worry, keep going. After it comes back together and you can make a cohesive, semi-sticky ball cover it with a damp cloth and let it sit for an hour.
- Divide into 8 balls about 115g each. Roll into balls with the palm of your hand on a non-floured surface. This old video from Better Crocker is pretty great at explaining that technique: https://youtu.be/sGFHuRBNfCU
- Let rest for at least 3 hours in a covered (I used a large plastic bag) cast iron pan dusted with rice flour.
- The last 30 minutes of the rest preheat your oven to 450º.
- Cook in a double cast iron cooker if you can, but you’ll be fine if not. (That means use a deeper cast iron pan on top that you’ve allowed to preheat in the oven. You'll remove the lid halfway through cooking.)
- Score if you wish, though when they’re lined in the cast iron dish it can be tedious. In retrospect I'd score sooner, maybe before setting in the pan.
- Bake @ 450 for 17 minutes with the double cooker lid on then 17 minutes without it.*
- *Alternatively you can just lay these out on a sheet pan with parchment paper dusted with rice flour. Then bake them for approximately 30-35 minutes depending on how dark you like the bake to be.
- **If you want these to keep a soft outside then bag them up after they cool to body temperature. Otherwise they'll develop a nice crust (which I don't mind) that helps preserve the inside.