Aaahh the sweet potato. Not the loveliest of potatoes, I’ll grant you. Nobby lumps and scaly cracks and bright orange flesh don’t always make this tuber easy on the eyes. But when it comes to sweet potatoes, as in life, it’s usually the inside that counts. He’s sturdy and trustworthy and will stick by you in the cold winter months. When February rolls around and you’re craving some farm fresh goodness and all of the other veggies have wilted away, you know the humble sweet potato won’t let you down. He cleans up real nice with a scrub and a peel, and just a little time in the oven turns him into a piping hot yet subtly sweet side dish. Basically, he’s the kind of guy you want to take home for dinner...and eat for dinner too.
When life gives you an abundance of sweet potatoes, as happened to me this past week when our intern brought back a PrairiErth Winter CSA Box for the ISA office to share, first off count your blessings because SWEET POTATOES! And second, make sweet potato bread. It’s hard to believe that a lumpy orange potato could turn into such a dreamy hunk of bread, but it's true.
And it’s easy as pie…er…bread…er…well it’s easy, and that’s all you need to know!
Here’s what you’ll need:
Ingredients (Makes 2 loaves) 5 oz. butter; room temperature (10 Tbsp) 1-3/4 cups sugar 4 eggs; room temperature 2 tsp. vanilla 5 oz. plus 2 tbsp. water; room temperature 2 large sweet potatoes, roasted (this should come out to about 2 cups of sweet potato puree) 4 cups flour 2 tsp. baking soda 2 tsp. ground cinnamon 1 tsp. ground cloves 1/2 cup walnuts or pecans; roughly chopped; extra for garnish
Wash, peel, and dice your sweet potatoes. Roast them in a 400 degree oven for a half hour to one hour, pulling them out once they are soft and easily mashed with a fork. Do not burn. (Note: if you forget to peel your sweet potatoes, as I did, don’t worry! A little sweet potato skin is good for you and won’t affect the flavor or texture of the bread)
Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter two 8- or 9-inch loaf pans.
In a food processor, cream butter and sugar. About 2 to 5 minutes. Meanwhile, mix the flour, baking soda, and spices together. Set aside the flour mixture. Note: If you do not have a food processor, you can use a large mixing bowl and beaters)
Add eggs, one at a time. Then include the water and vanilla. Slowly add in roasted sweet potatoes. (Note: if using a mixer, you may want to mash your sweet potatoes beforehand to achieve a creamier consistency). The mixture may look watery, but it’s okay.
Add the flour mixture at a low speed to prevent flour dust. Mix until the flour mixture is just incorporated into the batter. Do not over mix.
Gently stir in the nuts, reserving some for garnish.
Divide the batter equally (your best estimate) among both loaf pans. Sprinkle the nuts on top. Place both loaf pans in the oven. Bake for 45 min. to 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cool in the pans for 5 minutes. Then remove the loaves to a rack to finish cooling.