Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sweet Potato Bread with Apricots and Scrabble

A friend of mine has two of the cutest little tots on the planet. The kids are quite hip, but as they are both under the age of two, Saturday nights are still pretty low key. So she recently hosted an evening of Scrabble. I LOVE Scrabble. And until this get together, I fancied myself as good at Scrabble (me = sorely mistaken). Two of the ladies who joined us were like super Scrabble geniuses with laser beams coming out of their eyes and zeroing in on the highest scoring squares (and one of them noted that she was "rusty"). I think I lost by a thousand points. Oh well, at least it was a good excuse for a new homemade treat.

Making something "homemade" or baking "from scratch" has different meanings to different people. I'm pretty lenient with those terms - as long as the dish didn't come straight from the store shelf or out of a box, it counts as homemade in my book. As I've mentioned before, I didn't make a pie crust until this blog, but I would still say that I've made many a homemade pie. So when I read this recipe and discovered that it called for me to actually roast sweet potatoes rather than buy them in a can, I almost skipped it (in retrospect, the roasting was so easy, I feel embarrassed even sharing this bout of laziness). 

But I didn't skip it. Instead I said to myself, "Get it together, woman. You are a flipping food blogger now and food bloggers roast their own root vegetables." And now you all can enjoy the fruits of my labor. And by "enjoy," I mean look at photos. Although if you invite me over for Scrabble, I'll bring you some.

For our wedding, we received a really awesome and unique gift of Penzey's Spices, including a whole nutmeg (thanks Greg & Marlene!). According to European lore, our marriage will remain happy and sound as long as the nutmeg remains whole.

It looks like we may have some rocky times in the immediate future. At least we'll go down with good eats.

Disclaimer: these are actually yams. At the grocery store, I was scoping out the potatoes and could only find a bin marked yams. So I politely asked the grocery store man where I could find sweet potatoes. He walks around to where I'm standing (in front of the yams), gives me a dirty look and says, "Yer lookin' at em." Still politely, I say, "Oh, sorry sir, I'm actually looking for sweet potatoes and not yams." To which he responds, "Same thing." Now I'm annoyed. You work at a grocery store, dude. They're not the same. Upon further questioning, he says something to effect of sweet potatoes only being available around Thanksgiving. Um, hello, grocery store man - that's NOW. Maybe he should reevaluate his line of employment.

Sweet Potato Bread with Apricots
adapted from the awesome cookbook, Good to the Grain

Dry Mix
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tbs. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. nutmeg (freshly ground if you have it)
1/4 tsp. allspice (or pumpkin pie spice)

Wet Mix
2 tbs. cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup plain nonfat yogurt
1 medium sweet potato (3/4 lbs.) (photo shows two potatoes because I baked two loaves)
3 oz. dried apricots, cut into chunks

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper and roast the sweet potato for 1 to 1-1/2 hours, until it is tender all the way through when tested with a knife (all of the insides should be squishy). Juices will start to seep out and caramelize around the potato. Set aside to cool, then peel and cut in half. Cut each half into large chunks, but keep halves divided.

Lower oven temperature to 350 degrees. Grease or line a loaf pan with parchment paper. Mix all dry ingredients together. Separately, whisk together the buttermilk and yogurt in a small bowl. 

Using a stand mixer (with paddle attachment) or hand mixer, cream the butter and sugars together in a large bowl. Scrape down the sides with a spatula; add the egg and half the sweet potato. Mix on medium speed for about 1 minute, or until thoroughly combined. On low speed, slowly add the dry mix and blend until mostly combined. Add buttermilk mixture and mix until combined. Add remaining sweet potato and continue to blend until barely combined; visible chunks of sweet potato should remain. Spread apricots across the batter (to avoid clumping) and fold into batter using a spoon or spatula. (If using a stand mixer with paddle, you can add the apricots at the same time as the remaining sweet potato.)  

Pour batter into a greased or parchment-lined loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 65-75 minutes. Remove loaf from the pan upon removal from oven and place on a cooling rack. Slice and spread with your fave preserves. Use all 7 letters for a ridiculous bonus. 

Makes one loaf


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. oh come on what did phil say about the bread???

  3. OMG are you trying to kill us here in PA with these amazing dishes, ingredients, recipes and pictures! Seriously my mouth waters everytime I check out your blog and I long for my favorite grocery store.... Thanks for giving us something to look forward to and happy baking!

    Marin (food lover and PC friend of Mary)

  4. Thank you, Marin! I wish I could send some treats down for you guys, but they would probably grow legs by the time they made it to your communities. Hope the final months of your service go well (can you believe how close you are to the end?)!

  5. Ok, I've got some time off the holiday break and have decided that my goal is to make all of your dishes. That, and eat them all myself! Merry Christmas to me.


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