My brother and I are both very fond of sweet potatoes. It was no surprise that as soon as I saw No-Knead Sweet Potato Dinner Rolls from The Kitchn, I bookmarked the recipe. Like most bread baking projects, the recipe takes on a relaxing pace which requires plenty of time for the dough to work its own magic. I planned my Sunday carefully to perfectly schedule in a workout and a trip to Le Pain Quotidien while the dough rose and chilled.
What started out as a simple follow-the-recipe exercise quickly took on a life of its own. When I was mixing the dough, I noticed a bag of whole wheat flour I bought last week. In it went with the all-purpose flour to add a bit of wholesome nutty taste. While I was driving to the bakery, I thought of the extra mashed sweet potato. I would be more than happy to eat it by the spoonful but what if I incorporate it into the bread like cinnamon swirl bread? My first thought was to mix it with brown sugar, cinnamon, and ginger. It seems all a bit too obvious though. Then I remember the Vanilla Mashed Sweet Potatoes from 101 Cookbooks that Heidi Swanson highly recommends. To complement the warmth of vanilla, caramel would be my first choice. I bought a bottle of fleur de sel caramel spread from famed Montreal chocolatier Geneviève Grandbois a while ago but hadn't found a good excuse to open it yet. Today was the day! I imagine dulce de leche would be a good fit too.
When I got home, I couldn't wait to engage in my new course of action. I double checked I had enough dough for two loaves of bread with some quick look up and calculation. I refreshed my memory on how to shape a perfect sandwich loaf. Waiting was indeed the hardest part. My house filled with the yeasty sweet aroma of bread while the loaves were baking in the oven. It seemed like an eternity before the bread was cool enough to slice, all the while taunting me with their gorgeous good looks and irresistable frangrance. When I finally took a bite, this bread was everything I imagined it would be. The tender soft crumb tasted faintly of caramelized sweet potato (I roasted mine to the brink of burning to bring out as much flavour as possible). But the star of the show is really the swirl filling. The vanilla perfumed the entire loaf of bread and the sweet potato caramel spread added just enough sweetness for a double punch of sweet potato goodness. My brother and I could hardly limit ourselves to just one slice!
Double Sweet Potato Caramel Swirl Bread
- 2 large sweet potatoes, scrubbed but not peeled, about 454g
- 187mL of warm water
- 1 package of active dry yeast
- 2 tbsp dark brown sugar
- 250mL whole milk, warm
- 56g unsalted butter, melted
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 140g whole wheat flour
- 420g all-purpose flour
- 100g store bought salted caramel spread or dulce de leche (I used Geneviève Grandbois' Caramel a la Fleur de Sel)
- pulp from one vanilla bean
- To make mashed sweet potato: Roast the skin-on whole sweet potatoes in a 400F oven for 45-60 minutes until knife inserts into the thickest part with no resistance. The exact baking time will depend on the size of the potatoes. Once they're cool enough to handle, peel and discard the skin. Mash them in a bowl until no lumps remain. Set aside to cool to room temperature. You can do this a day in advance and store the mashed sweet potatoes in the fridge.
- In a large mixing bowl, stir together warm water, yeast, and brown sugar. Let it sit for 5 minutes until bubbly (just to make sure the yeast are alive). Stir in 255g of sweet potato, warm milk, melted butter, cinnamon, ginger, and salt (add the salt last) until homogenous. Using a sturdy spatula or wooden spoon, beat in both types of flour until you have a shaggy ball. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm, draft-free place for about 2 hours until dough doubles in size. Chill the dough in refrigerator for 2-4 hours.
- To make swirl filling: measure 135g of sweet potato in a small bowl. Stir with caramel spread and pulp from vanilla bean until smooth. Set aside.
- Grease two 8.5x4.5 loaf pans.
- To shape the loaves: Divide dough in two. On a very well floured surface, gently shape the dough into a ball. Using the tips of all your fingers, dimple the dough into a rough rectangle. With a rolling pin, roll out the dough to a 7x12 inch rectangle with the short side facing you. Spread half the swirl filling onto the dough with an offset spatula, stopping just before the short side further from you. Starting from the short side closest to you, roll the dough up jelly-roll style. Brush away excess flour with a clean pastry brush as you roll. Once you get to the end, pinch to seal. You should now have a 7 inch log. The dough is very soft so try your best to move it to one of the prepared pans, seam side down. Repeat with the other half of the dough.
- Set the loaves in a warm moist place for about 45 minutes or until the dough rises to the rim of the pan. Believe it or not, my make-shift setup is the microwave! Put 3 cups of water into a glass container and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Put the pans inside the microwave as well and close the door. Between the heat and steam from the water and the enclosed space, it's the perfect environment for the final rise.
- About 20 minutes before the dough is ready, preheat oven to 450F.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes until top is deep brown and the bottom sounds hollow when you tap it. Unmold to a cooling rack and set the bread right side up. You can glaze the top of the loaves with melted butter for extra shine and flavour. Let the bread cool down to room temperature before slicing.