Sunday, April 3, 2011

Not Only for Halloween - Sweet Potato Bread

In North America, sweet potatoes or yams are traditionally harvested and eaten in the fall of the year.  Sweet potatoes are root vegetables and, although they look very much like regular potatoes, have certain qualities that make them ideal for bread. They are sweet of course, hence the name. More importantly, they are orange in color something that adds a wonderful, delicate shade to the bread.

They are to be found everywhere in the world in many shapes and sizes. In Israel we have a member of this family, locally called batata, (stress on the second syllable) an Arabic word for potato.  It is both similar in texture and bright orange just like the North American sweet potato. It can be used interchangeably for all recipes that call for sweet potato. I have even used it to make a great sweet potato pie and candied yams.

This bread is a soft, delicate sandwich bread that is a gentle orange color. It is not the screechy, bright orange of Halloween, but rather it takes on a subdued, understated hue. It is perfect for sandwiches that have drier contents (meat and/or cheese) but probably would not be appropriate for wetter ingredients (like sauces and gravies). Mostly, it's delicious and perfect for breakfast. Makes great toast, too, and tastes great with butter or jam.

Here's What You'll Need:
for the starter (poolish):
200g (1 3/8 cup) AP flour
200g (3/4 cup + 1 1/5 Tbs) warm water
1 tsp. yeast

for the dough:
400g poolish
1 cup (250ml) warm water
10g yeast (2 tsp.)
800g (about 3 1/2 cups) AP flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup olive oil
2 sweet potatoes, baked until soft and mashed
1 Tbs. coarsely chopped rosemary

Here's What You'll Need to Do:
1. Make the poolish by  mixing the ingredients together. Let it sit, covered, at room temperature for about 3 hours. Place in the refrigerator overnight.

2. Peel and mash the baked sweet potatoes. You can bake them with the rosemary if you wish to intensify the flavor.
3. Knead together all the ingredients, including the poolish to make a slightly sticky dough. Knead it until it is smooth, then form it into a ball
 and place the dough in an oiled bowl, covered, to rise. Let the dough rise until doubled, in a warm place. This will take about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
4. De-gas the dough as little as possible when handling. Form the dough into 2 round loaves, or torpedo shape or even rolls. Cover with a towel for a final rise, about 45 minutes.

5. Bake at 350F (175C) for about 40 minutes for loaves, or about 20 minutes for rolls. Cool on a rack.


  1. What a nice color.
    It's also nice to have another use for the "Batats" which are so affluent in Israel.
    I like them very much roasted in the oven with chicken and Rosemary.
    Do you think adding Rosemary to this bread is a good idea?

  2. Thank you for the recipe! I have sweet potatoes and want to make it, but do you know how many cups/grams you need (they come in all sizes where I live, I have an assortment!).

    Also, could I exchange some of the flour for whole wheat?

  3. You can easily exchange 1/2 cup whole wheat flour for regular flour. This will make the bread a little heavier, but with much more pronounced 'wheaty' flavor. This will mean adding a bit more water (Whole wheat absorbs more) but let the dough be your judge. Just add a bit at a time until you have the right texture. The sweet potatoes should weigh about 8oz (240g). They also have some liquid so basically you have to use your judgement to get it to dough a little tacky but not really sticky.