Saturday, January 9, 2016

Sweet Potato Loaf

Sweet Potato Loaf

One afternoon I was munching on a baguette that I had just bought from a huge chain boulangerie here in Montreal—a boulangerie that presents itself as being authentically French. I noticed an oily residue on my fingers and in my mouth, and it was odd because French bread should not be like this. So I spoke to the Head Baker and I asked him if he added oil to the baguette. He said: “of course, Madame (with an emphasis on the “dame”). How else will the bread be moist?” I thought: This guy is a perfect example of how arrogance causes ignorance, and I never bought another loaf of bread from this bakery again. Even I know, as an amateur baker, that oil is not the only ingredient that produces moisture. 

This encounter made me only more curious about what makes bread moist and tender. This is why the Sweet Potato Loaf intrigued me. Not only does it contain potato (a moisture rich ingredient), but it calls for sweet potato. Much like the Banana Feather Loaf that derived its moisture and gentle sweetness from the banana, this loaf does the same with the sweet potato, and I am always eager to experiment with ingredients that I’ve never used before.

Overall, the Sweet Potato Loaf was delicious. Really truly. Yes, the bread was sweetened, but in a natural way, thus I didn’t feel as though I was indulging. It was as light as air (maybe it should have been named Sweet Potato Feather Loaf). I tasted a definite sour tone—a sourness that came from leaving the dough starter in the fridge overnight, but I enjoyed it, as it balanced out some of the sweetness of the potato.

In conclusion, I found the loaf a little too light in texture. It was so so tender, that I could hardly cut an straight slice without it compressing and collapsing under the motion of the knife. It’s a testament to the potato and dry milk, I think. Still, I prefer a toothier texture, but that’s not to say this Sweet Potato Loaf isn’t delightful. It is, and I’m very happy to have made it.

This was a standard process for me by now. The only thing I changed was that I let the dough starter sit for an hour at room temperature and then refrigerated it overnight. I just ran out of time to see the loaf through to the end.
Making the dough starter

Feeling stubborn, I chose to make this bread by hand. Certainly, the initial mixture was very rough and the sweet potato and butter sat chunky in the dough. 
Adding the sweet potato and butter to the dough starter and flour

Mixing the butter and sweet potato to the flour and dough starter
Incorporating it by hand
The first 5 minutes of kneading was very sticky (not my favourite experience)

The dough after 5 minutes of kneading

but after letting the dough rest for 20 minutes, it transformed into a beautiful bread dough. The second 5 minutes of kneading made the dough sticky again, but a little flour smoothed it out.
After the second 5 minutes of kneading

On the first rise, the dough took a good 2 hours to double. 
After the first rise

The biz fold after the first rise
On the second rise, it took another 2 hours to double. 

By this time, the dough was soft and supple. I made two biz folds easily and dropped it into the loaf pan. At this point, I was anticipating a delicious loaf of bread.
The dough shaped and ready for its final rise
It rose beautifully and ready to bake this beauty

The bread baked very quickly. Well before the time was up, the internal temp was just over 200F. I didn’t have any trouble with the top over browning.
The Sweet Potato Loaf just out of the oven

Sweet Potato Loaf


  1. Lovely! So maybe this dough would be better made into dinner rolls. Then one wouldn't have to worry about cutting it.

  2. Your loaf came out in a lovely shape. I enjoyed this most as toast.