Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Fall Sweet Potato Bread Tutorial

We had a pretty nice crop of sweet potatoes this year.

One thing lead to another in my love for gardening and baking. Here it is.

Fall being upon us, I thought it high time to bring to light one of my favorite Autumn breads. It's a lightly sweet potato bread, yeast raised, with a gorgeous leaf motif. Perfect for a center piece or a family size bread bowl, it will surely be an added measure of joy at the Thanksgiving table.

My recipe for the sweet potato bread is made using home grown sweet potato from our garden. I had the chance to grow some of our own this year and they have not disappointed me with their enthusiasm for life. Prolific little goodies-vine that they are. It's been a sheer treat watching them grow. However...most of the natural universe can just buy them at the store or even from the canned food aisle. I'm not checking your cupboard. Do what you want. I just liked the new adventure of growing them myself. Now I know how to do it growing, it seems a shame to let the little beauties go to waste. So, we steamed them and mashed them. For the bread we use: 5 day bread dough as the base, but used the sweet potato in place of regular potato.
Sweet Potato 5 day bread dough
2T active dry yeast (over 3000 feet use 1 T only)
4 cups milk, cold is best (cold soy milk is wonderful!)
3/4 cup honey Or Organic Maple SYRUP
1T salt
4 eggs (or 1 cup egg replacement)
3/4 cup oil
1 1/2 cup mashed sweet potatoes. cooled to body temp again. The consistency of thick oatmeal.
1T baking powder
2 cups whole wheat flour
12-14 cups all purpose flour (I have used fine ground white wheat and been fine doing all whole grain, use only 12-14 cups total if whole wheat is used )

I also add 2T cinnamon, 2tsp ground ginger and 1T vanilla to the dough.

Directions. Dissolve yeast in milk. Stir in honey. Allow yeast to get all foamy and look like it is having a hay day. Add egg, oil, mashed potato, baking powder, 2cups whole wheat flour, 2 cups all purpose flour and salt, in that order. Do not let yeast come in contact with salt on it's own or it will kill the yeast. Beat until smooth. Allow dough to rest 10-15 minutes

Add enough of the flour remaining to make a soft dough that is easy to handle but not dry. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead 10 full minutes. about 600 turns. Yea. 600 by hand. 5-6 minutes by machine on medium speed. Form into a ball and place in an ungreased 2gallon bowl, covered tightly. If you don't have a large enough bowl...use two smaller bowls. Or...just half the recipe if you are worried. Put in the fridge. Punch down after 2 hours (this may be faster if you use warm ingredients or flour. If the dough is over 85 degrees when you put it in the fridge, be sure to punch down sooner. Also...if you have kids who open the fridge a lot, be sure to lower the temperature a bit so that your fridge is really as cold as it should be) Form into a ball again. Cover tightly and chill at least 8 hours.

Be sure to punch down daily (this not only expels gas, but also ensures even temperature in the dough). This dough can be made up to 5 days before Thanksgiving! So, it's nice to have around. It's also amazing to make into rolls instead of bread, should you choose to do something else. This makes four loaves. Four.
I will only make one here, but you'll get the idea.

Take one quarter of the dough and roll it into a tight ball.

I like to expel as much air as possible so it raises rather uniformly.

Gather the dough at the bottom and make a tight ball out of the dough.
Place on a parchment lined stone or baking sheet, at least 12 inches by 10 inches. Allow to raise until doubled, uncovered, lightly misted with water. When almost raised, turn on the oven to 425 degrees. Take an egg white and with a clean pastry brush, coat the top of the bread with the egg. Place a clean silk leaf on the bread...

Sprinkle with paprika.

Carefully remove leaf and repeat design as desired.
Be creative.
Curry can also be used for gorgeous yellow.
Lightly snipping the sides of the loaf with kitchen scissors will allow air to escape and the dough to raise uniformly in the oven. It will also give a nice plain straight leaf pattern. I alternated the cuts between the leaves.

Like so...
Bake 425 degrees 15 minutes and lower the temperature to 350 for the final 15-20 minutes of baking. This will ensure the spices do not char to much. Use the Painted Bread Technique and add details as desired.

You can go as dark, or light as you want.

There you go. Make some amazing Fall bread.


Mama Peck said...

Beautiful! I've got to ask.. how much flavor does the paprika and curry give the bread? I would love to make some of this for Thanksgiving time but I've got picky grandkids coming..

Chef Tess said...

Great question. The Paprika will depend on the quality. Usually not as strong as the curry though.

Mama Peck said...

Thanks, Tess! Think I better stick to paprika this time around. Also, just reread the recipe and realized your last line was confusing:
"I also add 2T cinnamon, 2tsp ground cinnamon and 1T vanilla to the dough." I'm guessing there should have been a different spice for one of those measurements?

Mama Peck said...

This is seriously good bread!! I have to admit I didn't try the fall leaf decoration with my first loaf- just cut a few slits in the top and baked it. It is delightful- a taste of fall in every bite. However, I still have dough in the fridge and a silk leaf ready to go for tomorrow. Can hardly wait. Thanks, Tess- another winner!

Chef Tess said...

Hooray Mama Peck! I adore hearing how things go! Thank you!

Zurin said...

Fantastic idea for the design . I am so making this. Thank you for the inspiration.