Too many sweet potatoes. That’s where I found myself after Trader Joe’s opened up in our neighborhood. My girls and I refer to TJ’s as our “happy place” and while the prices are most definitely right, I always manage to drop large amounts of cash if only because I buy so much. Hence the sweet potatoes.
My plan was to serve them solo baked, mashed, and roasted and also cook them up for chili, shepherd’s pie, biscuits, and the like. Best of intentions. What really happened? I baked a batch one night, and while my husband and I devoured ours, the girls were unimpressed. Same thing happened a few days later when I served sweet potatoes mashed. Apparently naturally sweetened foods do not work for my children.
Their lack of enthusiasm dulled mine, and the potatoes sat. Not wanting to throw them out, I finally roasted and mashed what was left of the five-pound bag and committed to making something fun with sweet potato puree.
First up was sweet potato spoonbread, from Down Home Wholesome, 300 Low-Fat Recipes from a New Soul Kitchen. Quintessentially Southern, spoonbread had never graced my Midwestern table. But this custardy, pudding-like “bread” seemed a good way to pass dessert off as part of the main course. Because the cookbook focused on low-fat fare, this version had only one teaspoon butter and one egg. Cornmeal and sweet potatoes made up the bulk and two whites were folded into the final “batter” for extra lightness.
It baked up lovely and glorious–especially served with (fat-free) half-and-half. I’m calling it a side dish, dessert, AND breakfast. Score one for the sweet potato.
A recipe for squash rolls also came to mind; I remembered making them for Thanksgiving years back and that they were a hit. Sweet potatoes were a natural sub for the squash, so I collected ingredients and made me some dough. It rose nicely and in the interest of variety, I divided the dough in half, shaping 12 dinner rolls from one and rolling out cinnamon rolls with the other.Containing only whole-wheat flour, the dinner rolls could have been heavy, but weren’t. Honey and oil kept them soft and tender and the 1 cup mashed sweet potatoes added plenty of moisture.
The cinnamon rolls got a heavy pour of honey-sweetened cream cheese and offered a legit breakfast, dessert, or snack. They weren’t as light as the bakery-style mile-high rolls, but their graininess and sweet, earthy flavor put them in a league of their own.
Though my girls were nonplussed with the spoonbread (more for texture and unfamiliarity than objecting to flavor), the rolls–dinner and cinnamon–got a big thumbs-up from all. Mission accomplished.
With that, I’m closing my sweet potato chapter for at least a short while. Just the same, I sense another trip to Trader Joe’s, for yet to be discovered bargains, in the near future.
Sweet Potato Spoonbread
- 3 cups 1% milk (I used soymilk)
- 2 cups cornmeal
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups mashed sweet potatoes
- 3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon butter
- 1 large egg
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 large egg whites, beaten until stiff
Butter 2-quart casserole. Heat oven to 375°F.
In heavy 2-quart saucepan, whisk together 2 cups milk, the cornmeal and salt. Heat over medium-low heat 5 minutes or until thickened. Stir in sweet potatoes, brown sugar, and butter.
Whisk egg into remaining 1 cup milk; stir into saucepan. Remove from heat. Stir in baking powder and baking soda. Fold in egg whites until no white streaks remain. Transfer batter to casserole. Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until just set, though custard will still be jiggly.
Sweet Potato Rolls
Instead of making 24 rolls, I rolled half of the dough into a 15×12-inch rectangle, brushed the dough with melted butter and sprinkled generously with cinnamon-sugar. The dough was rolled tightly, seams sealed, and cut into 1-inch slices. Rolls were then placed in a 9-inch pie pan to rise, covered, 20 minutes. They baked at 375°F for 20 minutes or until lightly browned and baked through.
- 2 tablespoons active dry yeast
- 1 1/4 cups warm water (105-115°F)
- 1 cup mashed sweet potatoes
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 5 cups whole wheat flour
In large bowl, combine yeast and water. Let stand 10 minutes. Stir in remaining ingredients except flour. Add flour, 1 cup at a time, stirring until dough forms. Turn onto floured surface; knead vigorously 8 minutes or until soft and elastic. Place dough in clean greased bowl, turning dough so all sides are greased. Cover; let rise in warm place until nearly doubled. Shape into 24 rolls; place on greased baking sheet. Let rise 20 minutes or until puffed.
Bake at 375°F until browned and baked through. Transfer rolls to wire rack to cool.