Sweet potato bread might just be the softest bread you’ve ever made.
It’s January, and already life rushes over me with the single-mindedness of a river heading for a waterfall. I thrive on being busy, but after the holiday chaos, I just want to fall into a sofa by the fire, tuck my legs under a warm quilt, and watch the weather.
Winter in the Mountains…
This might sound ho-hum to you, and I get it. But in the mountains, weather is a spectator sport where we watch the forces of nature battle it out like ancient gladiators in the coliseum. This week is one of those times. As massive snow storms warmed into pounding rain, the winding mountain road connecting our village to Reno (aka Civilization) closed several times due to avalanches. School schedules and services we take for granted – like getting food to our local stores – was in disarray. For weather and road updates, since we lack a local radio station, many of us visit a community Facebook page to get the latest, most accurate information, before venturing out. It really does take a village. And social media.
Yesterday, after dutifully checking our Facebook page for the latest road conditions, I forged down Interstate 80 to the Bay Area shortly before it closed in both directions due to mud/snow slides and downed power lines. Imagine driving through a car wash at 45 miles an hour for 2 hours, surrounded by trucks and cars in the same car wash but driving much faster than you, frantic windshield wipers whipping against pounding rain, strong winds sweeping rivers of water across the highway, and huge chunks of snow calving from steep walls of rock, and you have a snapshot of my afternoon.
Requires comfort food…
Before leaving the condo in the mountains earlier that morning, I had packed some food and blankets into the car – common sense requirements for any road trip in winter months – and when I finally pulled into Auburn, I pulled into Starbucks (my home away from home), braved the storm to purchase a (grande, full fat, full caffeine) latte, and darted back to the car. While rain pellets bounced off the windows there in the parking lot, I relished my dry cocoon of a front seat, and dug into my provisions. First I laid out crisp apple slices in a tidy little pile, and a hunk of Jack cheese. Next I unwrapped a couple pieces of this Sweet Potato Bread slathered with butter, and sunk my teeth into its softness. Nirvana comes in many forms. I’d made it through the worst of the storm safely, and this was the most satisfying meal I could imagine at the moment.
Sweet Potato Bread with Honey
Dough Starter (Sponge)
- 3/4 cup (3.375 ounces) + 1 Tablespoon all-purpose white flour, (I use King Arthur)
- 1/2 cup + 1 Tablespoon slightly warm water, 70 - 90˚F is ideal
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast, I use Fleischmann's Rapid Rise
- 1 medium sweet potato, unpeeled
- 1 1/4 cups (5.625) ounces all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons dry milk powder, I used Bob's Red Mill
- 3/4 teaspoon instant yeast
- 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (I used Kerrygold)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, or 1 teaspoon table salt
- Combine all of the Sponge ingredients in a large bowl, and whisk thoroughly until smooth. It will be the consistency of a thick batter. Cover with plastic while you make the Flour Mixture.
- Bake the sweet potato until tender. I bake mine super-quick in about 6 - 8 minutes in the microwave oven.
- In a separate smaller bowl, combine the following Flour Mixture ingredients - flour, milk powder, and yeast - and thoroughly whisk so that the yeast is evenly dispersed in the dry ingredients. Using a large spoon, sprinkle this dry mixture over the top of the Sponge, and cover with plastic. Do not whisk or otherwise combine at this point. Set the bowl in a warm area of the kitchen to ferment for a couple of hours. I always heat a cup of water in my microwave oven, slide it to a back corner, and place the bowl in the microwave. The sponge will bubble up through and around the dry mixture covering it.
- Scrape the sponge and dry mixture into the bowl of a standing mixer, fitted with a dough hook. Add the butter and 1/2 cup of the mashed potato (it will likely be the entire potato). Mix into a dough at low speed until the flour is moistened, and forms a rough ball. Cover with plastic and let it sit for 20 minutes.
- Add the salt and knead with the dough hook at a medium speed until the the dough is smooth and shiny.
- Oil a bowl, scrape the dough into the bowl, and cover with plastic. Set in a warm area of the kitchen free of drafts to allow the dough to rise and double in size (about 1 1/2 - 2 hours).
- Gently scrape it onto a lightly floured work surface, and smooth the dough out into a rectangle. Fold the dough as if you are folding a business letter. Turn the dough 90˚ and fold again like a business envelope. You'll end up with a thick packet. These folds are important for developing structure in the finished bread. Return it to the oiled bowl, cover with plastic, and return it to a warm area of the kitchen free of drafts. Let the dough double again in size, about 1 1/2 - 2 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 400˚F 1 hour before baking the bread, and set the rack you'll use at the bottom of the oven, or one rung up from the bottom. Place a baking stone on the rack.
- Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work space, slightly flatten into a rectangle, and fold into a business envelop one final time. Tuck under the ends so that a loaf is formed. Butter a loaf dish, and place the dough in the dish. It won't fill it yet. Cover with plastic, and allow to rise one final time. It should dome above the sides of the loaf pan.
- Slide the loaf pan onto the baking stone and bake for 5 minutes. Lower the temperature to 375˚F and continue to bake for 15 - 20 minutes, or until the temperature probe inserted into the middle of the bread reads 190-200˚F.
- Unmold and cool on a wire rack before eating.
I haven’t been able to join this group of Bread Bakers in awhile, but one of the *resolutions* I’ve made is to bake bread at least once a month, and hopefully more often. Big thanks to Pavani of Cook’s Hideout for hosting us this month. It’s a lot of work, and I’m grateful you led us this month!! This month’s theme is Healthy Breads, a great way to start off the year.
Go check out the Healthy Breads that our fellow #BreadBakers have baked this month:
- Amaranth Flatbread from Mayuri’s Jikoni
- Beet Rye Bread from What Smells So Good?
- Blueberry Almond Bread from Cindy’s Recipes and Writings
- Brain Booster Pancakes from A Day in the Life on the Farm
- Chocolate Banana Flax Almond Meal Muffins from Spill the Spices
- Eggless Whole Wheat Brioche Buns from Gayathri’s Cook Spot
- Grain-free Nutty Carrot Flatbread from A Baker’s House
- Healthier Applesauce Spice Bread from Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks
- Healthy Whole Grain Bread from The Bread She Bakes
- Honey Almond Brioche from Kidsandchic
- Honey Oatmeal Bread from Food Lust People Love
- Multigrain Pesto Swirl Bread from Herbivore Cucina
- Oatmeal Crispbread (Oatmeal Knäckebröd) from Baking Sense
- Organic Honey Whole Grain Bread from Hostess At Heart
- Quick Whole Wheat Bread from Ambrosia
- Spiced Besani Paratha from Sneha’s Recipe
- Sprouted Wheat Bread from Palatable Pastime
- Sweet Potato Bread with Honey from The Wimpy Vegetarian
- Sweet Potato Millet Bread from The Schizo Chef
- Ten Grain No Knead Bread from Karen’s Kitchen Stories
- Whole Wheat Carrot Apple Walnut Quickbread from A Salad For All Seasons
- Whole Wheat White Bean Bread from Cooks Hideout
#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. You can see all our of lovely bread by following our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated after each event on the #BreadBakers home page.
We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient. If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send Stacy an email with your blog URL to email@example.com.
Looking for more bread ideas? Check out my Wimpy Vegetarian Breads board on Pinterest!
Want more breads to bake? Check these out…