With Harvest Colors being the theme for this month here at The Kitchn, my mind immediately leaped into a bowl of whipped sweet potatoes. Is there anything more fragrant, brightly colored, happy and inherently Fall than a baked treat with a base of the delightful tuber? I made some sweet potato muffins from Kim Boyce's Good to the Grain, and while I deviated a little from the recipe I wound up with fantastic results.
The wet ingredients at left, the bright orange sweet potato at right.
Good to the Grain, Kim Boyce's cookbook on baking with whole grain flours is pretty spectacular. The photos, insight and new twists on old favorites make it a must for a seasoned baker looking for new inspiration.
I tried out the Sweet Potato Muffin recipe, but tweaked it slightly, by adding a tad more sugar (I know not in the spirit of the healthful book, but I had a muffin/cake idea in mind!) and baking the batter into a few different forms. I made one traditional coffee cake in a loaf pan, as Kim notes as a possibility in lieu of muffin tins, and few others in mini bundt pans. I enjoy changing up the form of my baked good. With just one batter, you can make several variations, keeping the big version for yourself and gifting a few lucky friends individual treats. Your own loaf or cake will only end up a tad smaller and your pals, well, they will love you and call you the cake fairy when small treats wind up on their doorstep. One last adjustment I made was adding vanilla and substituting cardamom for allspice.
This muffin, turned coffee cake, turned mini bundt cake was marvelous in all of its incarnations. It's delicious and tender toasted with a smear of butter or alone with a cup of tea. And dressed up, with a layer of plum jam at the center and enrobed in cream cheese frosting, it's simply over the top! Definitely a nice addition to the birthday cake arsenal.
When you think about it, muffins, cakes, they're not so dissimilar-- so grab yourself a big sweet potato and get to work! This is a show-stopper of a recipe.
• If you are in the Portland, Oregon area on October 16th, Kim will be doing a book signing at Pastaworks on Hawthorne Blvd. at 1pm.
Sweet Potato Muffins/Cakelets
makes about 12 muffins
(adapted from Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce)
3/4 pound sweet potatoes
butter and flour for muffin tins and loaf pan
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 Medjool dates, pitted and cut into small pieces
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Prick the sweet potatoes with a fork and wrap in tin foil or parchment paper. Bake for about one hour, until they are tender. Remove from oven and let cool. Peel and discard the skins, mash up the potatoes in a bowl and set aside.
Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Grease and flour your muffin tins or loaf pan.
In a medium-sized bowl, sift together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.
In the bowl of a mixer, cream the butter and sugar until creamy. Add the egg and vanilla and continue to beat for another minute or so. Next add the buttermilk, yogurt and half of the sweet potatoes. Mix until just combined. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients at a slow speed until evenly mixed. Lastly, mix in the remaining sweet potatoes and dates until just uniform in texture and consistency. Careful not to over mix!
Scoop batter into prepared tins or pans and bake for 35-45 minutes, depending on what size tins you're using. Test with a toothpick and make sure it comes out clean. That's a good way to know the treat is done. Remove from tins/pan and let cool on a wire rack.
Cream Cheese Frosting and a layer of your favorite tangy jam. I used a sour plum and it was a nice contrast to the warm, spiced flavor of the cake.
• Visit Kim's Site: Kim Boyce
• Good to the Grain Book Review
• Muscavado Sugar Cake
(Images: Leela Cyd Ross)