A potato is not an apple. In French, the world “apple” is “pomme” and the word for “potato” is “pomme de terre,” despite the etymological relationship between these two words, one should not be confused into thinking that apples and potatoes have the same properties or should be used for the same purpose. Why the odd prelude? Well, because recently I tried to do something with a potato that one would be better off doing with an apple.
When it comes to making fruits into breads, the banana is the obvious choice. Other fruits like blueberries, apples, or even lemons make sweet, rich loaves. However, my pantry of fresh foods is temporarily depleted because of the pandemic, so my days of making fruity breads have come to a pause. Yet, because I love making loaves, I endeavored to make a similar bread from none other than a spare sweet potato.
There is, perhaps, a reason that sweet potato bread does not receive so much acclaim, however, undeterred by the curious dish, I proceeded to look for recipes to match my kitchen. Unfortunately, at the moment my store of all-purpose flavor is no more. For this reason, I limited my search to breads that use almond flour as the base. I was lucky enough to stumble upon a paleo sweet potato bread recipe. The recipe called for almond flour, coconut flour, arrowroot flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, eggs, avocado oil, maple syrup, water, vanilla extract, apple cider vinegar, and shredded sweet potato. I, naturally, did not have all of the ingredients. I did not have arrowroot flour (and had never even heard of it), so I added extra almond and coconut flour to compensate. I also substituted apple cider vinegar for lemon juice and used vegetable oil in place of avocado oil. My supplies clearly do not line up with this recipe, however, this mix of ingredients stood out to me in particular for the way that it incorporated sweet potatoes.
Most sweet potato bread recipes (I have recently learned) call for cooked, mashed sweet potatoes or that from a can. I was only working with a raw sweet potato and was quite frankly too impatient to cook it for the sake of bread (I’m a baker, not a cook-er). The paleo recipe that I found was one of the very, very few recipes that incorporated sweet potatoes in their raw form. To save myself from the tedious task of boiling a potato, I stuck with the paleo recipe.
Peeling and shredding the potato was easy enough and, perhaps, easier than performing the same procedure on a carrot. Following the recipe, I combined the dry ingredients, mixed in the wet ones, and finally folded in the sweet potato shavings. The biggest difference I found between the sweet potato bread batter and other fruit mixes was that this batter was drier and thicker. When I made a blueberry bread (more here), I remember that the batter was so soupy that I thought that I had made a grave error. In a similar vein, the sweet potato mixture was so thick, I grew concerned that the whole thing would burn in the oven.
I need not have fretted, as baking the sweet potato bread was uneventful. About fifty minutes later, I pulled a short, light brown loaf from the oven. Although I was skeptical of the squat little thing, I let it cool for about 15 minutes, and then proceeded to glaze it with this recipe (I added honey though for some extra flavor).
The taste left something to be desired. The loaf was not very sweet, rather it was near savory and had a texture that felt like it could be used for children’s playdough. Although the glaze was sugary it did not complement the bread well. While I was not a big fan of this creation, I’m glad that I gave it a try. Also, I found that after pulling out this bread from the refrigerator on day two, the taste was more agreeable. Maybe this is because the coldness of the bread dulled the stark contrast between the not-so-sweet loaf and saccharine icing. While this was certainly not my best bread, baking a sweet potato loaf was a fun little experiment.
Manipulating sweet potatoes into bread is, perhaps, unnatural. And now, a quote from Jurassic Park:
Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.
I was so preoccupied with whether I could make a sweet potato into bread that I did not stop to think whether I should. But, why let the apples and bananas have all the fun! When it comes to safe experiments in the kitchen, Dear Reader, I am a big believer in that you can, and you should.
So, when it comes to making bread, go weird or go home.