Up until now we’ve had a very mild winter in Massachusetts, leading to a backyard full of green garlic shoots and even a few fuzzy buds appearing on our peach tree. The cold has finally come to stay, and although we all know we’ve had a reprieve up until now and have no right to complain, we still are.
I’ve comforted myself, as you might expect, by baking. (What, after all can feel cozier when the temperatures are dropping than to be in a warm kitchen)? If you are feeling similarly sorry for yourselves, or if you just want to make a fantastic and (as quick breads go) healthy loaf, this is for you.
I adapted this from a recipe I saw on Chow. Though I made a few changes, the most noteworthy is that I substituted in some whole wheat pastry flour to delicious effect, and I’d probably feel safe adding even more. Whole wheat pastry flour? Yes: if you’re trying to sneak in whole grain flours, whole wheat pastry flour is the ideal choice for baking quick breads and muffins–its low gluten content, similar to cake flour, results in a tender, cakey crumb.
If you are skittish (or at the very least skeptical) about using whole grains in baking, combining with sweet potato is a great way to get your bearings. The slightly nutty flavor of whole wheat flour only brings out the tuber’s flavor, which is what really dominates. And thanks to the sweet potato the bread is incredibly moist. (This, even while I cut back on the milk somewhat).*
Rather than ramble on in this blog post as is often my wont, I’ll announce the winners of our giveaway! Laura, Sarah, and Carol–congratulations, and thanks to everyone for entering, and even more for reading this space!
- 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pan
- ½ cup whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 teaspoon fine salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon mace (or freshly ground nutmeg)
- 1 cup sweet potato flesh, scooped from 1-2 roasted sweet potatoes (instructions follow)
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar
- ⅓ cup packed light brown sugar
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), melted, plus more for coating the pan
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- scant ½ cup whole milk
- If you haven’t already, roast the sweet potatoes: preheat the oven to 425F, pierce each potato several times, and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment or foil. Bake about 45m to an hour (or longer) until a knife slides through with no resistance. (Plan to do this step enough in advance so that they have time to cool. It’s worth roasting a few and freezing extra for later).
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle.
- Butter a 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan and dust with flour, tapping out any excess. (I also line the bottom of the pan with a very casually cut to fit rectangle of parchment paper).
- In a medium bowl, stir together the flours, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and mace or nutmeg in a medium bowl.
- Either in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or using a hand mixer, beat the sweet potato flesh, granulated sugar, and brown sugar on medium speed until well combined. Mix in the butter on low speed until smooth (low speed so as to avoid splashing melted butter). Add the eggs one at a time, waiting until the first egg is incorporated before adding the second. Then beat in the vanilla.
- Scrape down the bowl and, on low speed, add half of the reserved flour mixture, then about half of the milk. Add the remaining flour, then the remaining milk and mix until just combined. (Do not overbeat).
- Scrape the batter into the pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about an hour. Let the bread cool in the pan for 20 minutes or so, then remove from the pan and allow to cool on a rack.