I know pumpkin recipes are all the rage these days and I'm just now getting on the pumpkin bandwagon. This past weekend, I made the most delicious pumpkin bars for a bake sale I helped to organize to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's annual Light the Night fundraiser in honor of Owen, my son's best friend who has leukemia. It was a raging success! We raised almost $1,500 for Team Owen -- and oh the deliciousness! I didn't even have time to take photographs, but let me just say that the Ooey Gooey Caramel Pumpkin Blondies, from Tasty Kitchen, were to die for. And there were lots of other delicious pumpkin desserts as well.
I'm learning to love pumpkin, but my first love is the humble sweet potato. I distinctly remember one time when I was little, hanging out with my Granny, while she fixed an afternoon snack of sweet potatoes. She pulled a pan of fresh baked sweet potatoes out of the oven, peeled the skin off, buttered the bright orange flesh, sprinkled it with a little brown sugar and declared it "as good as candy bar." Sweet potatoes are abundant, easy to grow, have a long growing season, are filling and nutritious. That's why you'll find them in a lot of Southern dishes.
If you've never baked sweet potatoes, you'll be surprised at how easy it is. Simply wash them off and place on a foiled lined pan, poke a few holes in them with a fork and bake at 400 degrees F for about an hour. You'll know they are done when "gooeyness" start seeping through the fork holes and the potatoes are soft when pricked again with a fork. Let them cool a bit and the skins magically peel away -- so much easier than boiling or peeling raw!
I don't know if I would declare sweet potatoes better than a candy bar, but I do know that I am sick of candy bars after an evening of sugary indulgence. This healthy whole grain bread was just what I needed this morning. Nonetheless, my aversion to sweets will probably last until about sundown when I'll be riffling through the kids' trick or treat stash conducting yet another "safety inspection."
Not Too Sweet Sweet Potato Bread
1/2 cup raw sugar (brown sugar will work as well)
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
3 tablespoons applesauce
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (plus extra for sprinkling top)
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 cup coconut milk (cow's milk or soy milk would also work)
1 cup cooked mashed sweet potatoes
1/2 teaspoon orange rind (or a few scrapes with a grater -- I don't measure)
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional - I left out but it would have been really good)
1/3 cup flaxseed meal for sprinkling on top
Combine sugar, honey, oil and egg in a large mixing bowl. Stir in applesauce. Combine flour, baking soda, salt and spices in a separate bowl. Gradually stir flour mixture into wet mixture, mixing alternately with coconut milk. Stir in sweet potatoes, orange rind and nuts (if using) until well blended.
Pour into four mini-loaf pans or one large 9 x 5 loaf pan. Sprinkle flaxseed meal and cinnamon on top of each loaf.
Bake at 350 degrees F for about 35-40 minutes for mini-loaves or 1 hour for larger pan. Remove from oven when a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Let the loaf or loaves cool for about 10 minutes before removing. Given the topping, try to lift loaf from pan as opposed to turning it over.
Tips and Tricks
- I'm in love with my new Wilton pan that holds four mini-loaves. Mini-loaves are just so cute and they don't take as long to bake as a full loaf!
- If you REALLY want to cut the sugar, I think you can reduce the sugar even further to probably 1/3 cup. I would leave the honey ratio the same as it promotes moisture.
- Quick breads are fun because you can make stuff up and it is more forgiving than, let's say, a cake. Don't be afraid to experiment and see what you come up with!
How about you ... are you a pumpkin person or a sweet potato person? Either? Neither? And as we approach the holiday season, what kind of recipes do you find you are craving? I love hearing from you!