Sweet Potato Braid

I must confess that I love carbohydrates.  I’m sure I share this sentiment with millions of others, but perhaps professing my love for grains over the Internet makes it more official.  I could eat cereal (sans milk) at very meal and be perfectly satisfied.  Or maybe that’s just weird.

 Bread is my not-so guilty pleasure food. I LOVE bread.  Seriously, I have at least two different kinds of homemade bread stashed away in my freezer at all times.  It’s essential to my survival.

 This time of year, my ideal meal is a hot, steaming bowl of soup/stew/chili/curry/anything you make in a Dutch Oven accompanied with a hunk of bread slathered in jam or creamed honey.  Or nothing, in which case the Dutch Oven creation becomes dipping fodder.

But back to bread, and this bread in particular is awesome.  I have never made a savory bread with sweet potato before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from this recipe, but my mind was blown.  The sweet potato flavor is balanced perfectly by the addition of thyme.  Thyme is a great seasoning….I need more of it in my life.  Anyway, I would highly recommend making this sometime.  Bread making is so simple, and homemade bread tastes so much better than store-bought.  It’s worth the time and effort, trust me.

 

Sweet Potato Braid

Adapted from Once Upon A Cutting Board via Taste of Home

Makes 2 loaves

Ingredients:

1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (110° to 115°)
1/2 teaspoon sugar
~1.5 lbs sweet potato, peeled and cubed (from about 1 large or 2 medium sweet potatoes)
1 cup warm milk (110° to 115°)
1/4 cup canola oil
3 tablespoons honey
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2-3/4 to 3-1/4 cups whole wheat flour ( I used all-purpose flour for everything)

 Directions:

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the sweet potato cubes and simmer about 15 minutes, until tender. Drain and rinse with cold water, then transfer to a bowl and mash the sweet potatoes with a fork. Let cool to room temperature.

(I roasted my sweet potatoes instead of boiling them.  Just wrap them in foil and bake at 400 degrees for about 45 mins.  Bake time will depend on the size of your spud.  Roasting caramelizes the sugar in the potato and brings out a richer flavor.  After roasting, remove skin and mash.)

In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast into the warm water. Add the sugar, stir, and leave for 10 minutes. Mixture should foam and double in size.

Pour the yeast mixture into the bowl of an electric mixer, or a large bowl. Add the mashed sweet potatoes, milk, oil, honey, all-purpose flour, cornmeal, salt, thyme, nutmeg, and 2 cups of the whole-wheat (or all-purpose) flour. Beat until smooth.  Stir in enough of the remaining flour to form a firm dough.

Attach the dough hook to the mixer and knead for 6-8 minutes until smooth and elastic. If you don’t have a dough hook, knead the dough by hand on a floured surface. Add more flour as you’re kneading if the dough is too sticky.

Transfer the ball of dough into a large, lightly oiled bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

Punch down dough and divide into six equal portions (a scale is helpful here). Shape each portion into a 20-inch rope. Place three ropes side by side on a baking sheet that has been lightly greased or lined with parchment paper.  Braid the three ropes and pinch each end to seal, tucking under the braid. Repeat with the remaining ropes to form two braids. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 35 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°F.

Bake loaves together at 350°F for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire racks to cool. Slice diagonally.

 

 

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