rock’n potato roll


There were many aspects in life turned unexpectedly different after moving to Beijing.  I didn’t expect that in any foreseeable lifetime, I’d accessorize a biking trip to the grocery with an industrial-grade gas-mask instead of a summer straw-hat.  I didn’t expect neither that instead of battles on sample sale weekends, I’d be fighting other choking victims online in a gas-mask-shortage-frenzy when the days get worse.  Yah I know there’s a general wisdom to be applied here somewhere… positive psychology and affirmations do-kid-yourself kinda BS or whatnot… but then comes the unexpected irony.

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I absolutely din’t expect that on the rarest days when the smog is blown, the sky is blue and warm crisp breeze feels so blessed that it can only be the feathers of an angel’s wing, I would have difficulty finding a good potato roll to celebrate with on an imaginary outdoor picnic.  …Yah I figure that your mind is a bit buzzed with confusions here so please, allow me.  Why so imaginary, (for appetite-sake being a food-blog’n all, I’ll be using some code-words) BECAUSE projectile saliva/children’s No. 1 and in some cases adult’s No. 2 in PUBLIC preferably recreational areas, is an unshakable MAO-GIVEN RIGHT here. They practice that shit literally stuff like constitutions which makes me want to respond with the second amendment .  “DO NOT sit on lawns” should be on the front-page of every travel-guides to here if the author’s any decent (or on second thought, “FORGET GOING” should be).

But I side-tracked.  Wet lawns would be wet lawns, the real pain is on the absence of good potato rolls.

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I’m a bit particular about rolls’n buns, I call’em the minority in food-ciety.  A burger is a bad burger if the bun is too squishy and flat… I don’t care what kind of Kobe mince they got in the patty.  A hotdog should shrink in size if in bed with air-dried, paper-shreds-textured FOAM BOATS dared to call themselves breads.  And there’s no glory in a lobster, died serving on top of a flavorless bread-plate that isn’t meant to be eaten.  I mostly ask for my money back.  But as the bakeries here offering an acceptable range of baker’s goods – adequate baguette, manageable pita and transformable tortillas – the basic presence of a good potato roll ready to bear all the summery possibilities is missing.  See?  It’s because they don’t picnic here.  Pity.


Since the days I sat helplessly with under-delivered food-items are far behind me, I took matters into my own hands.  Even if you sit two blocks away from ready-made rolls, regret not.  These potato rolls are more MOIST and possesses more BODY than most brioche or hamburger/hotdog buns I have tasted.  They are SOFT but NOT FLIMSY or worst, collapse upon contact with weight.  They are FLAVORFUL and BUTTERY that they can hold their ground against other big flavors.  The general sweetness is quintessential to any good rolls/buns but the occasional bites of sea salt and thyme give the kind of savory boost I crave.  It is the ultimate vehicle for all my warm-seasoned culinary fun, a star of my summer legacy.  Nothing but marvellous high-time festivity going down… in my safe indoor haven.  Beer fridge at two arms-length and in absolute cooling shades…  Aah life~

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Yields: 12 potato rolls

Updates on 2014/01/28:  some adjustments in the ingredients are improved

Ingredients: generously adapted from

  • 2 1/8 tsp (8 g) of instant dry yeast
  • 1 1/4 cup (292 g) of whole milk
  • 1 cup (200 g) of cooked starchy potato
  • 2 1/2 cups (312 g) of all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups (250 g) of bread flour
  • 6 tbsp (70 g) of light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp (9 g) of salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 6 tbsp (84 g) of unsalted butter, room temperature
  • To finish:
    • 1 egg wash (1 egg + 1 tbsp of water)
    • Fresh thyme leaves, optional
    • Sea salt, optional

Warm whole milk in the microwave until it reaches 110~115ºF (just warm to the touch but NOT hot).  Add the instant dry yeast and stir slightly to combine.  Let it sit for 5~10 min until dissolved and foamy.

Mash the cooked potato with a fork and make sure there’s no large lumps left.  Combine it with the yeast/milk, all-purpose flour, bread flour, granulated sugar, salt and large egg in a stand-mixer bowl.  Use the dough-hook and mix it on low-speed until a stiff, craggy dough has formed.  You may have to stop the machine a couple of times and scrape the bottom to help it come together evenly.  Then 1 tbsp at a time, add the soften butter into the mixer.  Turn the machine on medium-speed and add the next tbsp when the previous one has been completely incorporated into the dough.  Repeat until all the butter has been added.  Again, you may stop the machine a couple of times and scrape the bottom for even mixing.

Once all the butter’s added, turn the machine on medium-high and knead the dough for 5~6 min until smooth.  The dough should be elastic and slightly sticky.  Remove the bowl from the mixer and cover with plastic wrap, and then a kitchen towel.  Let it proof under room temperature for 1 ~ 1.5 hours until doubled.

Lightly flour the working surface.  Scrape the dough onto the surface and punch the air out.  Roll it into a retangular sheet and scroll into a log.  Repeat for another time, then divide it into 12 equal parts and shape each into a smooth-surfaced balls.  Now depending on what you want them to be, you can now shape each into long logs or bun-shapes.  For long logs, roll each into very long oval-shaped logs and place on a parchment paper-lined, rectangular baking sheet with approx 1/2″ space in between, then cover with plastic wrap.  Try to calculate before hand to use a sheet that WILL FIT THEM PERFECTLY after they double during the second proofing.  To keep them in bun-shapes, simply place the round dough on a parchment paper-lined sheet with at least 2″ space in between, and pat them down SLIGHTLY.  Cover with plastic wrap.

Let the dough proof/double again under room temperature for approx 1~ 1.5 hour.  The long logs should now be touching each other and filling up the entire pan.

Preheat the oven on 400ºF/200ºC.

Gently brush egg wash over the logs/buns, and sprinkle a few leaves of thyme and a few grains of sea salt on top.  Bake in the oven for 15~20 min until the surface is dark and golden brown (they should expand in size again in the oven).

Let the logs/buns cool on a cooling rack for more culinary possibility, or dig in warm.




  • It’s nice to read about your love story with Beijing :)
    Those rolls look amazing. I really wish someone would bake these for me (I am too lazy unfortunately).

  • Your photography is amazing! so simple and creative. The lighting, sharpness and compositions of the images!
    These potatoes rolls looks delicious. What about changing the potato with sweet potato? do you think it will work?

    • Julieta, oh absolutely! Extra flavor, color and sweetness what’s not to love? I will try that next time myself. And thanks for your nice words :)

  • Oh Mandy! As I sit here in my apartment also in Beijing, looking out at as you know yet another thick grey day, wondering if we will ever see blue sky again. Finding your blog today, brought a bit of brightness into the dull world of Beijing.
    Great to find a blog, that I can actually get the ingredients for things to cook as well..I am sure that you understand the challenges!!!
    I look forward to reading more of your adventures..

    • Colleen, oh oh poor you!! Look outside! It’s Mordor!! So sad… You know a lot of baking ingredients I use is bought on Taobao. It’s a good source if you can read Chinese I guess.

  • Definitely a beautiful bread. I made this last night with a few my own adjustments (e.g. less flour, shortening instead of butter, less milk with added water from boiling potatoes etc) to suit my taste and weather I’m in. And I was quite impressed on on how crispy the exterior was — a perfect counterpoint to an incredibly soft interior.

    My go to potato bread recipe (so far) was an elaborate one (sponge plus 3 rises/proofs at dough stage with a lot of babysitting). I really love the end product, but it is not a recipe for when I’m busy. This one, on the other hand, was far easier, less need for baby sitting with an absolutely yummy result.

    So thanks for posting your recipe and those gorgeous pictures that speak directly with your tummy, demanding a quick replication of whatever is presented.

  • These look absolutely fab! I’m going to make them for my Japanese burgers this week (with melted wasabi cheese, kewpie mayo,pickled ginger, … ). Before I begin on the recipe, could you give me the protein % of the flours you used? Seeing that I live in Europe, this are different then in some parts of the world :) thx!!!

  • Thx! I thought so, the European flour is approximately 12% :) . The all purpose you used is 11%? Sorry for all the silly questions but I’m kinda a bread geek ;)

  • Tried this recipe today, it was fantastic!! I added chopped thyme in the dough, loved the flavor!
    I’ve also made your sweet potato buns few times, love your recipes so far! x

  • Hey Mandy, quick question for you. After the stand mixing and then the 1.5 hour proof, I’m confused by the wording of the next section – “Roll it into a retangular sheet and scroll into a log. Repeat for another time, then divide it into 12 equal parts and shape each into a smooth-surfaced balls”. When you say “repeat another time”, do you roll out the 1st log that you made into ANOTHER rectangular sheet? And then, do you roll THAT rectangle again into a log again before dividing it into 12 parts?

    • Danny, yes yes!! Exactly the way you described it! This will create a more complex layering of gluten within the dough, and thus, most baker says, improves the texture of the final product. But if you can do it once only if you’d like.

      • Thanks Mandy. Also, in the recipe list you have brown sugar, but in the directions you have granulated. Which is correct? Sorry for all the questions!

  • Hi Mandy,

    It’s 10:30 pm Vancouver (Canada) time and eating potato roll. Tried your recipe tonight and I was not disappointed with the end result. Crunchy outside and soft inside my kind of rolls. Not only it’s yummy but also easy to make. I used chocolate mint instead of thyme. Next time I will incorporate it to the dough. Thank you so much for sharing your recipe.

  • Hi Mandy,

    Is there any particular reason why we need to combine two different flours rather than just solely using bread flour? :)

  • Hey Mandy, just wondering if it was possible to knead the dough by hand as I do not have a mixer with a dough hook?

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