Super-Moist Sweet Potato Bread

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.

Sweet Potato Bread (2 of 2)

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!

Sweet Potato Bread (1 of 2)

Super-Moist Sweet Potato Bread (adapted from Chow).

  • 1  cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pan
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon mace (or freshly ground nutmeg)
  • 1 cup sweet potato flesh, scooped from 1-2 roasted sweet potatoes (instructions follow)
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 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 1/2 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.

*Note that I cut back on the milk because I eliminated the pecans from the original recipe (changing the solid to liquid ratio)–my younger son is supposed to avoid nuts until he is 2 and he would not stand for being told he couldn’t have this bread.  Too much liquid in a batter can cause it to rise and then deflate in the center.  It worked out perfectly, as the pictures attest!


30 thoughts on “Super-Moist Sweet Potato Bread

  1. It really does look delicious. I am excited, though I realized yesterday I hadn’t been to the grocery store in over a month, let alone baked. I have a lot of catching up to do!

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  3. I have wondered about trying bread with sweet potato for s while now but wondered whether it would be too sweet. Yours looks so moist that I might have to give it a go!M

  4. Is there a difference between whole wheat flour and whole wheat pastry flour? If so, when do you use whole wheat patry flour and how does it affect the baked good you are making?

    • Whole wheat flour is fairly high in protein, while whole wheat pastry flour is rather low. For comparison, bread flour is high in protein, cake flour is low, and all purpose flour is somewhere in the middle. Whole wheat pastry flour, by being low in protein, helps maintain tenderness in things like cakes, muffins, and quick breads. (Lots of gluten–and gluten development) is good in things like yeast breads, but makes a cake or muffin tough. Note that stirring, etc, also develops gluten, which is why recipes for cakes and muffins usually say to mix until “just combined. Thanks for your question!

  5. I took it one step further & used yogurt instead of milk. In making banana bread w/ thawed bananas, I discovered that the sourness of yogurt enhanced the sweetness & taste of the bananas, as well as using half vanilla/almond flavorings. So I figured the earthy flavor of the sweet potatoes wld benefit as well. It’s in the oven as I txt this, so we’ll see. Also, the acidity of the yogurt wld also add extra lift to the bread since I don’t have access to any kind of pastry flour plus my version of whole wheat flour is adding 1/8 c. of wheat germ to all-purpose flour so my breads need the extra lift. Also reduces the need for butter/marg. (I find 1/4c yog= 1/2 stick butter/marg). Thx for ur great, afternoon-saving, blog!!

    • I messed up ’cause I was baking w/ the end of a migraine so I forgot the recipe called for a half cp. o that pastry flour (I wld’ve used more all-purp w/ some wheat germ). Also, I was using some left-over, already cooked & spiced sweet ‘taters so they had some butter, sweetness, nutmeg & cinnamon on board. Had to modify the recipe for that reason too. BUT it came out SO good!!! My friend/caretaker & her girls are having some w/ coffee (we’re in El Salvador) & they’re just drooling! Thx SO much! Cldn’t have done it w/out u! Wish I cld upload a pic of it ..

      • Thanks for all those detailed explanations–I learned a lot from your modifications! And I’m so glad you liked the recipe (or your own recipe, is more what it sounds like). Really interesting point about the yogurt too. (I just made banana bread on Monday and you’re right, it can be too sweet, next time I’ll make it with yogurt!). Thanks for visiting and for your great comments!

      • I did get btr, thx! & the bread was a HUGE hit. Now they (my family & my next door neighbor) want MORE! They all said this bread was WAY btr than the banana bread. I think it might’ve been the more “soulful” taste of the sweet potatoes. In any case, just stopped by to say thx for the “get btr” post & to comment on YOUR recipe. 😀

  6. Sorry! One more thing? I didn’t use a mixer AT ALL! I did it all w/ a wooden spatula, a narrow one, but did do the mixing in the order given (I’ve read too many manuals, I think) & the ‘taters were a teensy bit lumpy but unless I stuck them in a blender they weren’t gonna get any smoother. In the end, there was no sign of lumps, the crumb was excellent & the moistness was absolute heaven. I only got a corner bite (my family is greedy w/ my baking when it works) but I think if you toasted & then added a small drizzle of maple syrup this wld be mind-numbingly decadent!

    • Maple syrup would definitely be a good touch. I have made other versions of sweet potato bread that direct you to leave a few lumps, so it’s all a matter of preference. Glad you are feeling better and that it was such a hit. I like it better than banana bread too, but that’s just me.

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