Staff Recipe Favorites: Simple Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls

One of the big perks of working at BenBella is getting to check out all of the scrumptious new cookbooks. With so many talented authors on our roster, it’s easy to end up experimenting a lot in the kitchen and developing fresh culinary favorites. In the Staff Recipe Favorites column, we’ll be sharing some of the best-loved employee eats. We hope you enjoy as much as we do! See previous posts here.

Staff Recommender

Lindsay Marshall, Senior Marketing Manager


Simple Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls with Maple Glaze from Blissful Basil by Ashley Melillo

Thoughts from Lindsay

Note: All the beautiful images in this post are from Chelsea Q. White Photography.

I was flipping through Blissful Basil (which is beautiful, y’all), and this recipe caught my eye because it cleverly combines two of my favorite things: sweet potatoes and cinnamon rolls.

Seriously, I eat a sweet potato every single day. I do refrain from eating cinnamon rolls every day, but they are certainly my go-to for holidays/brunch parties/Saturday.

So, I just added an extra yam to my weekly grocery list and picked up the rest of the ingredients, all of which were easy to find at my local grocery store in Dallas.

These rolls really were true to their name: simple. Steam sweet potatoes, mix ingredients in food processor (I added about 8 more tablespoons [1/2 cup] more water than the recipe called for), knead dough, wait for dough to rise, coat dough with cinnamon sugar, roll your rolls, let dough rise a little bit more, pop them in the oven, and glaze. (Note: I recommend using the full instructions below, as opposed to my highly abbreviated summary.) Seriously, though, pretty simple for such decadent breakfast treats.

I’m fairly new to the food processing world (mine was a Christmas gift last year and sadly it’s really only been used to make salsa), so the only real hiccup in making these rolls was my novice user error of the machine. Other than that, the hardest part of this dish, like most recipes with yeast, was the mental test of impatiently waiting for the dough to rise while daydreaming of warm, gooey, cinnamon sugar goodness.

I asked my talented friend Chelsea (check her out: Chelsea Q. White Photography) to come over and style/shoot because Ashley’s recipes deserve better than my lacking iPhone photo skills. Doesn’t she just make everything look so lovely? Thanks for working your magic with my mess, CQW.

Here are the rolls in all their glory pre-oven.

And here I am putting on finishing touches/the best part/MAPLE GLAZE.

We both devoured a warm roll as soon as they popped out of the oven. I have to say, this is a serious, guilt-free contender to replace my standard cinnamon roll recipe. #lindsayapproved

Make it Yourself

Preparation and Baking Time: 1 hour + |  Makes 9 rolls


Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls
1 1/4 cups peeled and small-diced (1/3-inch cubes) sweet potato (about 1 medium sweet potato)
3/4 cup warm water (105˚F–115˚F)
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (1 packet)
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
2 3/4 cups whole spelt flour, plus more as needed and for dusting
2 tablespoons melted virgin coconut oil, divided, plus more for greasing
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup coconut sugar

Maple Glaze
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup room-temperature virgin coconut oil, melted
1 tablespoon natural creamy almond butter*
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (optional)


For the Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls
The sweet potato needs to be measured precisely, so make sure you have exactly 1 1/4 cups of small-cubed potato. Steam the diced sweet potato for 30 minutes, or until fall-apart tender. (Avoid steaming in the microwave, because it will dry out the sweet potato rather than infusing it with moisture.)

In a small bowl, gently whisk together the warm water, yeast, and maple syrup. Let stand for 5 minutes, or until a foam develops on the surface. Meanwhile, lightly grease a large glass mixing bowl with coconut oil.

Add the steamed sweet potato to a food processor and process for 1 minute, or until puréed, stopping to scrape down the sides as needed.

Add the yeast mixture, spelt flour, 1 tablespoon of the coconut oil, 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon, and the sea salt. Pulse 5 times and then process for 15 seconds, or until the dough begins to roll into a loosely formed ball. The dough should be soft and sticky yet pulled together. If it’s too loose or wet, add more spelt flour, 1/4 cup at a time, and pulse to incorporate.

Alternatively, if it’s too dry or dense, add more warm water, 2 tablespoons at a time, and pulse to incorporate.

Pull the dough from the food processor and turn out onto a clean work surface that has been dusted with spelt flour. Knead for 1 1/2–2 1/2 minutes, until the dough is smooth and springy, adding more spelt flour as needed. You’ll know it’s ready when it begins to hold its shape and springs back, slightly but not completely, when pressed. The gluten in spelt is delicate, so be careful not to overknead or you’ll end up with dry, crumbly cinnamon rolls.

Shape the dough into a ball and place it in the prepared bowl. Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel and let the dough rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours, or until doubled in size.

When the dough has just a few minutes left to rise, lightly grease an 8 × 8-inch baking pan with coconut oil. Whisk together the coconut sugar and remaining 1 tablespoon cinnamon in a small bowl.

Punch down the dough and turn it out onto a clean, lightly floured work surface. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a 1/2-inch-thick rectangle (approximately 8 × 18 inches).

Lightly brush the top of the dough with the remaining 1 tablespoon melted coconut oil and sprinkle with the coconut sugar mixture.

Starting at the front of the long edge of the rectangle, carefully roll the dough away from you until you have a tightly wound roll. Use your fingers to pinch the seam closed. Use a sharp serrated knife to slice into nine 2-inch thick

Gently place the rolls in the greased baking pan, swirled-side up, leaving 1/4–1/2 inch of space between each.

Loosely cover the pan with parchment paper and let the rolls rise in a warm place for 30 minutes, or until doubled in size. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350˚F.

Bake for 18–24 minutes, or until the rolls are just barely turning golden and the tops feel firm to the touch.

For the Maple Glaze
In a small bowl, vigorously whisk together the maple syrup, coconut oil, almond butter, and vanilla (if using) until smooth and emulsified.

To Serve
Serve the cinnamon rolls warm with a generous drizzle of maple glaze.


1 Comment

  1. Cindy Salit said on

    Absolutely love this cookbook and can’t wait to try these! Yum!

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