Sweet Potato Sourdough
I have previously discussed my strange food habits as a child, in particular my decision to not eat a certain food despite never having tasted it. These reasons ranged from completely arbitrary (I just never got around to eating red grapes) to unreasonable comparisons (cherry medicine does NOT taste like cherries). I am sad to say that sweet potatoes fell into the ‘completely arbitrary’ category of food exclusion. I couldn’t remember ever eating sweet potatoes, so I assumed I had a good reason…I didn’t.
And wow, what wonderful things I was missing out on! I first remember having something with sweet potatoes in 11th or 12th grade in high school. I never really ate much of them until I started cooking for myself a few years later, but since they make frequent appearances in breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It was long overdue that I incorporated sweet potatoes into bread, and the results are extraordinary.
I had this bread on my ‘to-make’ list for about a month before I got around to baking it, and I am so happy I finally did. The flavor and sugar of the sweet potato give the loaf a unique taste that compliments the sourdough leaven, it is really an extraordinary combination. The added sweet potato also gives the crumb a creamier texture than a normal loaf that contrasts with a crust that crackles and shatters with each bite.
And that color! The sugars in the potato caramelize quickly during the baking process and leave you with this intense orange and dark brown coloring that hints at the treasure inside.
I have now made five loaves of this in the last three weeks, it is just that good. To be fair three of those have been sent to other people, but they have reported back similar positive reviews!
Despite having at least a dozen potato bread recipes filed away to make at some point, this is the first one I’ve actually made. This has certainly provided the impetus to try more of those out, and I encourage you to give this one a shot!
- 350 g bread flour (70%)
- 150 g whole wheat flour (30%)
- 300 g water (60%)
- 150 g sweet potato, cooked (30%)
- 120 g active sourdough leaven (24%)
- 12.5 g salt (2.5%)
- The night before (or at least 7-8 hours) you make your dough combine 2 tablespoons (15-20 grams) of unfed sourdough starter with 60 g of water, 30 g of all purpose flour, and 30 g of whole wheat flour.
- Stir until there are no dry bits of flour, cover loosely with plastic wrap and let sit out overnight. This will be your active starter the next morning. A drop of the starter will float in water when it is ready.
- The night before or at least 1 hour before making your dough cook the sweet potato (oven or microwave) until done. Peel it and if you have one, press it through a potato ricer. If you do not, mashing it with a fork will do. Let cool to room temperature.
- When ready, disperse the entire starter in 275 g of water in a large bowl. Add all flour and mix by hand until there are no dry bits.
- Add in the sweet potato. Knead for 1-2 minutes until well combined. Cover and let rest for one hour.
- After the hour is up add salt and remaining 25 g of water. Mix well and cover the dough again.
- For the next two hours ‘turn’ the dough every 30 minutes. This means grabbing the underside of the dough, and stretching it up and over the rest of the dough. Perform a few of these turns each time you handle the dough.
- After two hours is up, let the dough rest for another hour before you turn it again.
- After the third hour, let the dough rest another 30 minutes. Then turn it out onto an unfloured surface. Flour the top of the dough and flip it over. Work into a round shape and let rest for 30 minutes.
- Following the bench rest flour the top of the dough again, flipping it over after so the flour side is face down. Fold the third of the dough closest to you inward, and then stretch the dough out to the sides. Fold the right, and then left, sides in toward the center. Fold the top of the dough inward, and then wrap the bottom part of the dough over it all.
- Work this into a round shape, and place seam side up in a proofing basket lined well with flour.
- Let rise for 3-4 hours (or overnight in the refrigerator). One hour before baking place a dutch oven, with the lid on, in the oven and preheat to 500 degrees. Once hot, drop the dough into the pan and score the loaf. Immediately place the top back on and return to the oven. Turn the heat down to 450 degrees and cook for 25 minutes.
- After 25 minutes remove the top of the dutch oven and rotate the pan. Continue to bake the bread for another 20-25 minutes, until the crust is deeply caramelized. Keep a close eye towards the end as the sugars in the sweet potato will cause the loaf to caramelize quickly. Enjoy!