Thanksgiving Sweet Potato Knishes

Some beautiful knishes, just like the ones served at the first Thanksgiving.

Hi, everyone! Incredibly, along with everything else happening in the world right now, it’s almost Thanksgiving. I love Thanksgiving, honestly, and after what has undoubtedly been an extremely difficult year, I can think of nothing better than being around family and/or loved ones.  

As I’m thinking a lot about larger ways I can be more active and serve as an advocate on a national level, I am also seeking ways to more actively take care of the people around me. Food brings people together and it brings joy; these are not small things right now. Food can give us the energy we need to fight those larger battles coming towards us.

Also, everyone loves knishes! I know doing a multi-step recipe like this one may seem overwhelming if you’re not used to it, but there’s something extremely satisfying and soothing about committing a few hours to making something delicious that you’re going to share with loved ones. This past week I’ve been putting on the equivalent of comfort food TV (mostly CW shows about superheroes) and trying to do good things for the people I love.

I think these knishes are a good starter or supplement to the Thanksgiving meal. I added savory herb-based flavors to the sweet potatoes since I don’t like an overly sweet knish, (but there is a lot of disagreement in my family about this).

Let’s get started!

Ingredients:

Dough:

4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 cup corn oil (or other vegetable oil)
1 cup room temperature water
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 extra egg for brushing top of knishes

Filling:

6-8 sweet potatoes, peeled with the ends cut off
4 cloves minced garlic
1 tablespoon za’atar*
Several grinds fresh black pepper (adjust to taste)
2 teaspoons salt (adjust to taste)

Materials:

Baking pan
Parchment paper
Rolling pin

*Za’atar is a Middle Eastern spice mixture you can buy in any grocery store or make yourself. It is typically a combination of oregano, thyme, marjoram, sesame seeds, and salt.  

Directions

Dough

I’ve written this up more thoroughly here but making this type of dough is pretty easy. I didn’t even use a stand mixer, just some mixing bowls and a spatula.

Mix your dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, and salt) in a mid-size to large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix your wet ingredients (water, apple cider vinegar, and oil). Whisk your egg in a separate bowl then pour into the wet ingredients.

Make a well in the middle of your dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Use a rubber spatula to mix until the dough starts to come together, then start kneading with your hands.

In the bowl, knead the dough until it’s a mostly smooth, oily ball. What a gross phrase.

Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit for at least an hour. You can also make it a day before and refrigerate.

Filling

Preheat your oven to 425°. Grease a baking pan (I just use cooking spray).

Put your sweet potatoes on the greased sheet, and place in the heated oven to bake. You can also cut your sweet potato into smaller pieces to bake faster, but honestly, I did not have the energy. Have your minced garlic ready to go. Set timer for 40 minutes.

At about 35 minutes, put the garlic onto the baking sheet with the sweet potatoes.

After the potatoes have been in the oven for a total of 40 minutes, begin to check the sweet potatoes with a fork every 5 to 10 minutes to see if they are tender all the way through and can be easily pierced.

Remove the pan from the oven and let your sweet potatoes cool.

In a large bowl, mash the potatoes and garlic with a fork. Add your spices—the za’atar, salt, and pepper. Mash everything together. If you have a preferred method of mashing potatoes over “mash with a fork until you don’t feel like doing it anymore,” please feel free to do that. Taste to determine your optimal seasoning level.

If you prefer a sweeter sweet potato knish, leave out the za’atar and add just a little bit of brown sugar or maple syrup to your sweet potatoes.

Crack an egg in a separate dish and mix into the seasoned sweet potatoes (I save this step for after the spices are finished so I’m not eating raw egg when I taste test the seasonings).

Assembly

Place parchment paper on a standard baking sheet and preheat your oven to 350°.

Get your dough, or remove the dough from the fridge if you made it the day before, and knead again, since some of the oil will have seeped out into the bowl.

Flour a work surface (I used a giant cutting board) and roll the dough into a rectangle until it is about an eighth of an inch thick. The long side should be closest to you.

Taking one scoop of the sweet potato mash at a time, form a log of filling along the long side of the dough rectangle closest to you. Leave about an inch of “margin dough” along that edge.

Roll away from yourself twice, initially picking up the inch of margin dough and lifting up and over to encase the filling, then continuing to roll the dough around the entire log several times. Use a pizza cutter to cut off the excess dough on the far end. Pinch the vertical seam closed as much as you can— it doesn’t have to be perfect, you just don’t want it opening while you’re forming or baking.

Starting at one end, twist about 3 to 4 inches of the log off. Pinch the twisted end closed, push down on your baking sheet, and pinch the top closed as much as you’d like.

Continue down the line until you’re done with the log.

Once all of your knishes are on the baking sheet, whisk an egg in a bowl and brush onto the top of each knish.

They’re ready to bake!

Set a timer for 30 minutes, but know that you will probably want to bake for 35. You want the knishes to have a nice golden brown color with some crisp to them.

Remove from the oven, and transfer to a wire cooling rack.

If I am being very honest I usually eat these about 10 minutes after they’re out of the oven, but in the likely event you don’t want to eat them all at once, knishes can be wrapped in foil and refrigerated.

To reheat knishes, microwave for 30 seconds then put in an oven or toaster oven for a few minutes at 350° to crisp up.

Enjoy! I hope you have a good Thanksgiving with your family and/or friends.

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How to cite this page

Yelsey , Lisa. "Thanksgiving Sweet Potato Knishes." 18 November 2016. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on January 21, 2020) <https://qa.jwa.org/blog/eating-jewish-thanksgiving-sweet-potato-knishes>.

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