I love taro. It’s a starchy, nutritious tuber that is popular in various parts of the world, but has been a major staple crop and pretty important part of the Hawaiian culture and diet, since people started inhabiting the Hawaiian islands. It is most commonly (and traditionally) used to make a dish called poi; poi is basically just boiled, mashed taro with a bit of water. It’s easily digestible, and has a slight sweetness to it. There are many varieties of taro, coming in a range of sizes.
Taro rolls are common luau fare, but the rolls are typically loaded with butter and eggs…and dyed purple….but no matter as luaus are classic for being very un-vegan, so I won’t be finding myself at one in the near or distant future. These rolls remind me of traditional Thanksgiving day sweet rolls, which I used to eat loads of as a kid. They are great with a smear of tropical jam (guava, pineapple, lilikoi etc) or lovely with some Earth Balance Coconut Spread.
1 packet active dry yeast
1/4 c lukewarm water
sprinkle of sugar
1/3 c coconut oil, melted
1/4 c plus 2 tbsp unbleached cane sugar
1/2 tsp Hawaiian sea salt
1/2 c full fat coconut milk
1 1/2 flax eggs (1 1/2 tbsp ground flax + 4 1/2 tbsp water)
1/2 c taro, boiled until tender and mashed
3 c unbleached all purpose flour
In a glass measuring cup or small mixing bowl, combine the lukewarm water, yeast and sprinkle of sugar. Allow this to stand for 5 to 10 minutes allowing the yeast enough time to activate. Your yeast will foam or bubble and create and sort of “sponge” at the top. If you don’t see anything like this happen to your yeast, it’s dead and you should start over with a new packet.
Meanwhile, mix together the coconut oil, sugar, salt, coconut milk and mashed taro. Mix very well until it’s all combined. It will likely turn grey, but don’t be afraid if the color. 😉 In another small bowl, make your flax eggs. Add your flax eggs and east into the taro-coconut milk mixture and combine. And in yet another bowl (sorry for all the bowls) preferably in your standing mixer fitted with the hook attachment, add the flour. Make a well in the flour and add the liquid ingredients. Run your mixer on low, mixing and kneading until you have a smooth dough. Oil a large bowl with coconut oil and place the dough in the bowl. Cover with a damp towel and place in a warm place to let it rise for about 1 hour, the dough should be about double in size. Punch down the dough and divide it into about 16 or so equally sized balls. Prep a baking sheet and place the dough balls on the baking sheet. Cover them and let rise, about another hour.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake the rolls until they start to turn golden, about 22-25 min, rotating them about half way through. Serve warm.