Makes 16 medium-sized soft dinner rolls with very browned tops and a beautiful pale orange crumb.
¾ pound (1 large) sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
¼ cup packed light brown sugar
3½ to 4½ cups all-purpose flour
About 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon salt
2 large or extra-large eggs
1 egg, whisked, for egg wash
Put the sweet potato in a saucepan with about 2 cups water and bring to boil. Cook for about 15 minutes, until tender. Drain, reserving the cooking water. Mash or purée the potato (you should have about 1¼ cups), and place in a large bowl. Let potato and cooking water cool to lukewarm.
Measure out 1 cup of the lukewarm cooling water and stir in the yeast to dissolve thoroughly. Add the yeast mixture to the potato, then stir in the brown sugar and 1 cup of flour. Add the butter and salt and stir, then add the 2 eggs and mix well. Add 2 more cups of flour, a cup at a time.
Dust a work surface generously with flour and turn out the dough. Knead for about 5 minutes, until soft, smooth and somewhat elastic.
Place in a clean bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled, about 4 hours.
Pull the dough away from the sides of the bowl and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Lightly grease an 18-by-12 inch baking sheet with butter.
Use a sharp knife or a dough scraper to divide the dough into 16 pieces (cut it in half, then cut in half again, and again). Using your cupped palm, pressing the dough lightly into your work surface, roll 1 piece into a round roll by rolling it in a short circular motion about ten times. Place the shaped roll on the baking sheet. Continue with the remaining dough, placing the rolls about ½ inch apart on the baking sheet (4 rows of 4 rolls each). Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 to 40 minutes.
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F.
Just before baking, brush the tops of the rolls with the egg wash. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the rolls are a deep brown on top and a golden orange at the sides. They will be nested together, toughing.
Let cool for 10 minutes before serving. Store, once completely cooled, in a well-sealed plastic bag.