Honey, Agave, Whole Wheat Sweet Potato Rolls with Flax and Sesame seeds: My Tale of Becoming an American

My tale of becoming an American didn't instantly happen at the pledge of allegiance swear in but it started rather rocky and came full circle on Thanksgiving. I was fairly young at the time and stumbled quite accidently to live here in the United States. I didn't seek a refuge from dictatorship lands or escape from persecution. I had good future prospects as I was just out of the mandatory service of the Israeli army, getting accepted to Tel Aviv University. Yes, life growing up was challenging, in an east meets west worlds type of challenges many face and a tad more, but my future prospects were promising. If it were not for Jonathan, who would love me mentioning, that he is younger than I, I might have now not been an American. After so many years, friends back home say I am so Americanized. Well, I am!! Now that I no longer eat fast food, I am, I think, an American only in the most fabulous sense of the word possible!! Imagine me smiling now.
It took me awhile to warm up to Thanksgiving, not a wonder since my first time hosting was a complete disaster. Never had turkey before, and the pronounced flavor, even of the white breast, needed to be acquired, but there was still hope as with the tangy sweet cranberry sauce I fell in love in a flash. Slowly, throughout the years I understood not every Thanksgiving dish, savory or sweet, was loaded up with brown sugar and butter. Stuffing can be versatile and interesting, one Thanksgiving I made some stuffin' muffins. Chestnuts I revere as a raw ingredient, was fascinated with crisscrossing and roasting and the depth and dimension it adds to stuffing, with a touch of red wine and all the turkey drippings, but no longer use in the kitchen for fear of allergic reaction. After chestnuts and cranberries, I added an organic turkey and I never looked back! Cider was added to the mixture, I knew apple puree as in baby food but not much about apple juice, much less cider. As you all know I am a huge fan of maple syrup, again I discovered in this land. It takes a more meaningful angle as some of the Thanksgiving ingredients are harvested in New England and that is where I landed in the midst of Winter, my first year as an immigrant. No wonder I was timid about Thanksgiving all these ingredients were unfamiliar, say, foreign. It would have also helped if I had read carefully how long it takes to cook a turkey, but I suspect my first Thanksgiving was destined to be a disaster whether I did or didn't read the instructions. You cannot master or become an expert or appreciate the raw ingredients a new land offers you or take on a culture and the sights as your own just because a paper says so, because you are physically transplanted, it's a process of many 'turkey disasters' not a genie in a bottle or a quick blink of the eye.

Since that first epic disaster all my Thanksgivings improved and started to become successful. . Another ingredient is sweet potato. I was familiar with it but really only on a shallow level. I see Indian recipes nowadays with sweet potatoes but in my mother's Indian kitchen it was not prominent, never played a role, in fact nonexistent! I do have a fantastic recipe for oven fries sweet potatoes you can find here, but for this Thanksgiving I was so happy to find not long ago a honey, agave, sweet potato rolls with flax and sesame seeds to my delightful surprise on an Israeli site.

Honey, Agave, Whole Wheat Sweet Potato Rolls with Flax and Sesame seeds
Costco finds: Agave & Flax Seeds

2 Tablespoons yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water
2 Tablespoons honey (optional, I used it)
4 Tablespoons Agave
2 Tablespoons Turbinado Sugar in the Raw
3 Tablespoons olive or canola oil
1 3/4 Teaspoons salt
2 Eggs
3 1/2 - 4 Cups whole wheat flour
1/4 Cup flax seeds
1 Cup pureed sweet potatoes
1 Egg for brushing
2 Tablespoons sesame seeds

1. Mix yeast, lukewarm water and 1 tablespoon sugar until mixture bubbles
2. In separate bowl mix together honey, agave, 1 tablespoon of sugar, olive oil, salt and eggs, and set aside
3. In a mixer add two cups flour, flax seeds and sweet potato puree with the dough paddle until well mixed
4. Add step 1 and step 2 into mixer and mix well with dough paddle
5. Scrape very moist mixture from paddle and attach dough hook. Add to mixer the rest of the flour (not all four cups are necessary) in few steps until dough is moist but not sticky. If sticky add a bit more flour.
6. Take out of the mixer and knead the dough for few minutes longer to force air bubbles into the dough and add elasticity. Dust mixer bowl with some flour and add kneaded dough back into the mixer bowl and cover with a towel for about an hour until dough doubles in size
7. Punch the dough few times to let the yeast bubbles out of the dough and let rest for few minutes
8. Form about 12-14 round balls out of the dough and set in a greased round/square or rectangular cake pan with some spacing in between dough rolls. Cover with a towel and let dough rolls double in size
9. Beat an egg and brush tops of dough rolls and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake in a preheated 350F oven for 20 minutes or until tops of rolls are deep golden

*Trick: Temperatures here dropped quite suddenly in recent days, so in order for the dough to rise, I set it up on a cool stovetop, turned oven underneath to 350F and the dough was rising happily to my delight.
*Note: I made both small and regular size rolls, wanted to experiment, liked the regular size, about 14 or so rolls.

It will be FoodWandering's year anniversary this coming November. Please see here last November's (2009) Thanksgiving post.