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.


  1. So touching Shulie - I love reading this story! It's one of those things that I always take for granted I guess - the dishes we serve at Thanksgiving are served EVERYWHERE in the world, right? LOL! And the brown sugar line cracked me up - one of my pet peeves is that there is entirely WAY too much brown sugar on a Thanksgiving table.

    Am so happy you are here now and even more grateful to call you friend!

  2. What a wonderful story, Shulie! Thank you for sharing! Love the rolls, they are so healthy and delicious!

  3. Beautiful story Shulie. The rolls look delicious. Lovely photos too!

  4. What a great story! Felt every word of it!
    And a great recipe as well.

  5. Lovely story! Yes, please, hold the brown sugar, and NO marshmallows!

  6. Loved the story and appreciate all the disasters! Your rolls look incredible!

  7. Lovely post, Shulie. Thanks for sharing. Those rolls look like they will be perfect for breaking apart and sopping up gravy...

  8. Wow these are awesome and great writing too!

  9. Awesome post!! Great writing and i ant wait to try the recipe!!

  10. Dear Shulie,
    I loved reading your post ..... The recipe is great and the clicks superb !

    I am going to give this a try soon :-)

    Cheers n Happy Cooking,


  11. lovely story! Awesome post! And Oh my god!! those sweet potato rolls look great!

    Great pictures too! xx

  12. Deb, Thanks for your comment and your neverending support and friendship. Have a fantastic time at BlogHerFood for all of us!! Love, Shulie
    Sara and Lora, Thanks!! you gals are so fabulous and so happy to be friends.
    Prerna, Happy this post resonates with you. Funny we just have met yesterday but feels somehow longer.
    Fayanne, hahaha, Debra from first comment cracked up at my brown sugar and I now at your marshmallows:). Thx for the comment and chuckle!!
    Domenica, Most definitely!! Will be fantastic w/gravy. I got a feeling this roll will be even better the next day. Thx again and lunch soon!

  13. Megan, Thanks! Isn't is though the disasters?!The rolls are yummy!
    Alison, It means a lot thanks!! I hope you book is progressing nicely!
    Mdivani, my OC buddy, thanks babe for your friendship and support!!
    Hey An, thank you girl for the comment and compliments. Isn't it a bit early to be up? Kisses to both you and Mdivani my late night buddies!

  14. First of all, I can eat at least 5 of those rolls.

    Brilliant! I love reading immigrant stories, especially from people I care about. Your writing is pleasurably stimulating and I love your sense of humor!

    From one post to another, an acquaintance is welcomed to a conversation, invited for a drink and gets asked to stay for dinner.

    Thanks for sharing this, Shulie.

  15. Thanks Annapet for your comment. You are the loveliest of friends. Yes, definitely please stay for dinner:). That was beautiful comment writing all on its own!! Shulie

  16. Great post Shulie. As an immigrant myself, I could totally relate to your story. These rolls look amazing! This is the kind of rolls we need for holiday dinners... delicious and healthy. All the more reason to eat an extra slice of turkey and pie. XOXO!

  17. Is this the reverse process of me becoming European? Interesting! And for people like us it happens through the food. I can't even remember the last time I celebrated Thanksgiving! As for sweet potatoes - aren't the sweet potatoes in Israel the white-fleshed variety? More nutty-tasting than sweet? Anyway I adore sweet potatoes and I love these perfect, wonderful rolls!

  18. Love, love, love the post...and the recipe. I'm definitely making those rolls for Thanksgiving now (and your chestnut stuffing muffins, if you care to share?! :))

  19. Kathy, I would have never known you were not born in the States! 'extra slice of turkey and pie' Made me chuckle. Thanks for your comment.
    Jamie, hmm is it, reverse? Need to ponder that! Yes, they are, although the ones we had at home in Israel boiled and salted maybe handful times, now that I recall, were pretty similar theones in the States. Now pumpkins that is a different story altogether:) Thx the rolls were awesome! Get sweeter w/time.
    W.Mark, Thanks for the comment and I already shared with you on twitter the chestnuts stuffin muffins:).
    Thanks you all my friends for visiting my blog and taking the time out of your day to leave a comment. I sincerely appreciate it! Shulie

  20. What a lovely post, what a lovely story. I always love reading about how people end up here in America. The sweet potato rolls look so delicious, I'd have to give it a try!

  21. Thanks Jun. We all have wonderful stories...wish I could hear them all! The rolls are fantastic, I could tell when I came across the recipe at first. Let me know how did they turn out when you try. Shulie

  22. Yes, people need to stop putting brown sugar in every Thanksgiving dish! And marshmallows need to be banned too. lol