A great way to sneak some color and vitamins into a traditional loaf, this purple sweet potato bread is a whimsical and hearty addition to the dinner table.
Around Thanksgiving, I found myself with a plethora of purple sweet potatoes because I couldn’t resist loading up my shopping cart with those gorgeous jewel tone gems. Turns out, one cannot eat seven thousand potatoes at once. They’re delicious, but they have a much denser texture than traditional sweet potatoes, or even those with purple skin and white flesh, so not everyone in my family wanted to eat them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I enjoyed them in holiday sides for the first fifteen meals I made with them, but then determined it was time to get creative and see what else they were capable of.
Enter sweet potato bread. Potato bread is a beloved classic, right? I have always been a fan of potato rolls for veggie burgers at cookouts, so I figured, why not try a potato loaf made with the prettiest potato of them all (and also use up that embarrassingly large stash)? I added dried herbs and spices to make this a delightful savory bread, but you could also skip the garlic and rosemary, and add cranberry, currents, pecans, or walnuts to veer in the sweeter direction. Mmm … kinda makes me wish I had a few more potatoes lying around…
1 cup of water
1 teaspoon yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup puréed roasted sweet potatoes
3 cups flour
2 tablespoons oil
1/8 cup of water for kneading
1/2 teaspoon rosemary
1/2 half teaspoon of garlic powder
HOW TO MAKE THIS BREAD:
I use a food processor with a dough blade to knead my dough, though standing mixers, bread machines, or the good old fashioned knead by hand method are also A-Ok for all types of homemade bread. All of these ways get you to the same end result, it just depends on how much time and muscle you are willing to put in.
So first thing is first, you will need to roast your sweet potatoes. If you don’t have purple sweet potatoes, this recipe is great for the orange variety or of course, standard Russet potatoes. No need for olive oil here, just cut into 1-2” chunks, pop onto a silicone baking mat, and bake for 40 minutes at about 400 degrees in the toaster oven or conventional oven. Set aside to cool.
In a bowl, mix one cup of lukewarm water with 1 teaspoon yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar. Let this mixture sit for five to eight minutes, until the yeast starts to activate and puff up. Add in 1 cup of puréed roasted sweet potatoes – just make sure they are room temp or warm, as hot ones might kill the yeast.
Pour in 3 cups of flour and 2 tablespoons of oil. I used olive oil, but you can use avocado, walnut, etc. depending on the flavors you’d like your bread to take on. Start to knead your dough in the food processor. If doing so by hand, sprinkle about a tablespoon of flour on your kneading surface so the dough doesn’t stick. Slowly mix in an additional 1/8 cup of water if the dough is seeming too dry, a half teaspoon of rosemary, and half teaspoon of garlic powder for extra flavor if desired. Again, feel free to sub this for other sweeter ingredients if you prefer (see below). You should knead for about 7-10 minutes total until the dough feels gluteny and and firm. Over kneading can cause the bread to be tough, so trust your gut here.
I then mist olive oil to coat my cast iron skillet and place this dough inside. You can pop it into a metal pan (no plastic handles in the oven though!), a dutch oven, or even a glass bread dish. Cover with a clean tea towel, and allow this to rise for 2 hours in a warm area like atop the stove or near a heater. In the spring and summer, I often plug in a tiny space heater and set the bread dish near that for some concentrated warmth. What? Is that extra?
After this rises to double in size, punch the dough down so your bread doesn’t bake with holes in it. It won’t take it personally. Cover with a clean towel again and set back by the heat source for another 15-20 minutes. Pop into your heated oven and bake at 370 degrees for about 30 minutes.
If going the sweet route, add in 1/2 cup walnuts and 1/2 dried currents or other dried berry. Mix in 1/8 tsp nutmeg, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, and 3 tbsp more sugar. You can also drizzle the raw dough with agave or baker’s sugar crystals before baking to create a dessert bread.
Serving and storing Ideas
This was delicious served with homemade vegan chicken noodle soup, and was a perfect savory toast in the mornings with vegan cream cheese and fig and olive tapenade or plain with some vegan butter. If you prepared the sweet version with nuts and dried berries, I’d recommend a blackberry jam, maple cream, apple butter, or fig butter.
This bread stores for about 5 days in an airtight container, but remember, freezing bread is also a great trick to cut down on food waste if you don’t think you can eat a whole loaf while it’s still fresh. As I’m getting toward the end of a loaf or if I won’t be home to eat it at its freshest, I pop whatever is remaining into my mystery freezer bag of assorted breads and pull out exactly what I need down the road. Slice first, as slicing frozen bread ain’t easy. I pulled out a rye bagel today for an avocado toast, and yesterday yoinked a ciabatta bun out of the freezer for a chickpea tuna sandwich. Simply pop into the toaster or oven to reheat and muah – beautiful as ever.