Recipe for Martha Washington's Potato Rolls | Almanac.com

Martha Washington's Potato Rolls

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Discover Martha Washington’s Potato Rolls recipe. Martha kept a cooking scrapbook of all her favorite recipes. She and George Washington were well-known for hosting many gatherings and parties at their home in Mount Vernon, Virginia. 

You can prepare the potato dough ahead of company and keep it in the fridge; then, bake it when ready so it comes out warm from the oven!  When you make mashed potatoes, make plenty of leftovers to bake into these yummy rolls!

Note: Martha’s potato rolls recipe has been updated slightly for modern cooking. (Back then, recipes did not always include ingredient amounts, figuring the experienced cook would already know this information and adapt to the size of the party.)

Source: The Williamsburg Art of Cookery (1938). For another adaptation, we refer you to the potato rolls recipe on the website for the Mount Vernon Inn Restaurant at George Washington’s former estate.

2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
3/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 package (2¼ teaspoons) active dry yeast
6 to 7 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Cook potatoes 
1. Place potatoes in a medium saucepan and cover them with cold water.  Bring water to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and cook potatoes until tender, 20-30 minutes. Drain, reserving 1½ cups of the cooking liquid. While potatoes are cooking, bring milk to a simmer in a small pan, then remove from heat.

2. Mash the hot potatoes, then add the sugar, salt, and butter and blend well. Then add the reserved potato water and the milk and beat well. Cool mixture until lukewarm.

3. Add the yeast to ¼ cup warm water, stir, and set aside for five minutes until bubbly. Gradually add four cups of flour to the potato mixture and beat well.

Then add the dissolved yeast and blend well. Add the remaining flour, about ½ cup at a time, beating well after each addition, until the dough is stiff enough to knead. You may not need to use all of the flour.

4. Turn dough out onto a floured board and knead until smooth and elastic (about 5 minutes), adding additional flour if necessary. Brush a large bowl with a thin layer of oil and place the dough in the bowl. Turn dough to coat with oil, cover with a tea towel, and let rise in a warm location for about 2 hours, or until doubled in size.

5. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly grease two rimmed baking sheets. Turn the dough out onto a floured board, gently punch it down, then roll or pat to a ¾-inch thickness. Pinch off pieces of the dough and roll them into balls, then flatten these slightly. You should make about 24 rolls. To end up with the right number, I used a knife to cut the dough in half, then in quarters, then made six rolls out of each quarter section. (Alternatively, you could cut out rounds using a biscuit cutter.) Place rolls slightly apart on the baking sheets, then let rise until doubled in size, approximately 45 minutes. Bake about 20 minutes, until golden brown on top. Serve warm.

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Sarah Perreault

Senior editor, Sarah Perreault, works on all things Almanac, but is especially proud to be the editor of our Old Farmer’s Almanac for Kids series. Read More from Sarah Perreault

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