Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Sweet potato bread

Over the last several weeks, I’ve watched many farm trucks go by filled with sweet potatoes from this year’s harvest.

I love cooking with sweet potatoes, and I love that so many are grown right here in Wilson County. North Carolina leads the nation in growing sweet potatoes, and Wilson, Nash and Johnston are all big acreage counties, according to Billy Little, agriculture extension agent. Little said 8,000 acres of sweet potatoes are grown in Wilson County.

At my house, we enjoy sweet potatoes baked and dressed with a little butter, cinnamon and brown sugar. One of my favorite side dishes for Thanksgiving is a sweet potato casserole topped with pecans (no marshmallows!) I also add diced sweet potatoes to my vegetable soup and even pot roast. They have a wonderful, sweet taste and pack a nutrition punch with beta carotene, vitamins A and C. Sweet potatoes are also rich in fiber. According to the N.C. Sweet Potato Commission, a medium sweet potato baked in its skin has 4 grams of fiber. That’s more than an envelope of instant oatmeal.

To highlight sweet potatoes, I tried a new recipe for sweet potato bread and really enjoyed it. I started with a basic recipe and changed it around, using white whole wheat flour, adding a few spices, cutting back on total sugar and subbing brown sugar for some of the granulated sugar. As a finishing touch, I sprinkled a little cinnamon sugar on top before placing the loaf pan in the oven.

The bread is very dense and flavorful and has a gorgeous brown crumb with an orange tint. And I love the spice combination; I was very glad I decided to add ground cloves at the last minute. The overall effect reminds me of zucchini bread.

Reggie and I had our first slice, still warm from the oven, topped with cinnamon butter. (Just soften the butter and mix in some cinnamon or cinnamon sugar.)

This is not a very sweet bread but is just right for a breakfast bread, I think. If you want a sweeter bread, go up a half cup on the sugar.

As a side note, I cooked my sweet potatoes in the slow cooker. I had cooked them that way a few weeks before when I made sweet potato muffins and had great success. I washed the potatoes and placed them in the crock, on a piece of aluminum foil — to make cleanup easier in case the sweet juices leaked out. I cooked them on high for three hours, then checked for doneness, piercing the middle with a toothpick. I left them in about another 30 minutes until the sweet potatoes were cooked through. I think this is a great way to cook a baking potato or a sweet potato. The flesh was wonderfully moist and cooked through. After the potatoes had cooled just a bit, I wrapped them in aluminum foil to use the next day.

Sweet Potato Bread
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups white whole wheat flour (could use all-purpose or a mix of all-purpose and whole wheat)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/3 cup apple juice
  • 1 cup cooked sweet potato, lightly mashed
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped
  • cinnamon sugar, optional
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix sugars and canola oil until combined. Add in eggs, then flour, baking soda, salt and spices. Mix in juice, sweet potato and pecans until combined. Pour into 9X5-inch loaf pan prepared with baking spray and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar if desired.

Bake for approximately 1 hour. Watch for burning around edges, but make sure bread is cooked in the middle. Cool slightly, then remove from loaf pan and wrap in foil to keep moist.

Warm bread is delicious with cinnamon butter. To make, mix a little bit of cinnamon or cinnamon sugar into softened butter.

Adapted from Allrecipes

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