Bread time again! We thought we’d try something a bit different to warm us up during the recent cold snap. This sweet potato-based bread is our first foray into vegetable breads, and although it didn’t turn out quite perfect it still tasted totally delicious and we had to share it with you.
Here’s what you’ll need for a standard (about 800 g) loaf/boule:
- 1 large sweet potato
- A few sprigs rosemary
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- About 350 g strong white flour (enough to make it up to 500 g with the sweet potato) plus a bit more for kneading and making a crust
- 1 tsp table salt
- 2 heaped tsp fast-acting yeast
- 1 tsp honey
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 300 ml tepid water
- 1- 2 tsp dried chilli flakes
Start by taking the skin of the sweet potato, chopping it up into fairly small chunks and roasting it, along with the rosemary, seasoning (good pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper) and olive oil for about 45 minutes at around 180 °C. You want the sweet potato to be soft, not crispy – otherwise the next bit will be pretty much impossible!
Once the sweet potato has cooled down, roll your sleeves up, take a deep breath and force the roasted sweet potato through a metal sieve. Pushing it through with the back of a spoon seems to work pretty well, but it’s hard work! Take out any rosemary leaves and add them to the sieved potato, but discard the stalks. If anyone has any better ideas for how to smooth out the sweet potato, leave us a message in the comments.
That ordeal over and done with, add the sieved sweet potato to a measuring scales and add enough strong white flour to make up the total weight of the potato and the flour up to 500 g. Add to a mixing bowl with 1 heaped tsp yeast, the table salt, the honey and the extra virgin olive oil. You may want to use a food mixer with a dough hook to bring the mixture together, as it gets pretty sticky – we did, but it’ll work just fine with your hands. While you’re bringing it together, slowly add the tepid water, about 50 ml at a time.
Once the dough has all come together, by machine or hand, tip it onto a well floured surface and knead for about 15 minutes. You’ll have to flour the surface again and again as it will stay pretty sticky! Once it springs back place in a well-oiled bowl, cover with cling-film and leave to rise in a warm place. Once it has doubled in size (about 2 hours), knock back, shape (whatever you like – we did a boule but would like to try a loaf next time!) and leave to prove for another hour or so.
About 20 minutes before the bread is ready to go in the oven, preheat it to about 200 °C. Now for the chilli crust – this step is kind of optional, but we urge you to give it a go as the results are delicious! Mix together a couple of tablespoons of strong white flour, 1 tsp yeast, the dried chilli flakes, and just enough water to turn it into a spreadable paste.
Just before the bread goes into the oven, put a few slashes in the top with a sharp knife and smear over the chilli and flour paste so that it forms a thin layer. Now put it in the oven for about 30-40 minutes, until the top is dark and golden.
We ate our bread with some roasted red pepper and butter bean soup with some flaked pecorino, but it’s delicious all on its own!