Monday, March 28, 2011

Purple Sweet Potato Bread

Soft and spongy buns made with purple sweet potatoes

I've made pizza and naan before, but never plain bread or buns. I had bought a piece of purple sweet potato over the weekend (it's actually labelled as "white sweet potato" because the skin is white, but when you cut through it, it's purple inside), with the intention of making a chiffon cake with it. But then I came across a recipe for Japanese sweet potato bread in one of my cookbooks and was taken in by the picture of the lovely soft-looking buns. Moreover, I had an unused packet of bread flour that had been sitting on the top-most shelf of my larder for the past one year, which fortunately had not exceeded its shelf-life yet. So I thought why not try making bread this time, since my mum tells me all the time that making bread is easy!

Sprinkled the tops with black sesame seeds and rainbow sprinkles (for the kids)

The reason why I never got around to baking bread is because it seems like a long process of kneading, waiting for the dough to rise, kneading again, proving the dough.... I only have a tiny window of opportunity while little J is taking his nap to do any cooking or baking. Moreover, I find the process of making bread a little daunting when I watch TV chefs like Jamie Oliver casually slapping a kilo of dough on the counter, flour everywhere, kneading it with his big strong hands and arms - something I'm lacking terribly in. Of course, I could always use the electric mixer to do the work, which was what I did today. It wasn't as bad as I thought, and making bread is actually easier than baking cakes (okay, just based on this first experience) especially since everything just goes into one bowl, compared to cake-making which involves many steps of sifting flour, separating eggs, creaming butter, cutting out greaseproof paper to the exact size, etc. The only thing is that I baked enough bread to last the next few days, and I still have a pack of hot cross buns and white sandwich bread in the pantry. I might have to consider freezing some of these breads, otherwise I'll have bread coming out of my ears!

The purple sweet potatoes give the buns a natural lavender-like hue

I must say it is rather gratifying to watch the dough rise and double in size because you know that you're doing something right! The sweet potatoes that I used weren't exactly very sweet. They were mild in flavour, and I guess they were there more for colour and texture than anything else. I would have preferred the bread to be sweeter though, but it still tasted great with butter sandwiched in between. The recipe uses an overnight sponge dough (which I made last night), resulting in a soft and sponge-like texture. The kids enjoyed eating it (with lashings of butter), but of course, how can they pass up on anything with colourful sprinkles on it? :)

Here is the recipe, adapted from Alex Goh:

Japanese Sweet Potato Bread


300g bread flour
35g sugar  (or a little more if the potatoes are not very sweet)
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp instant yeast

60g overnight sponge dough (see below for recipe)

145ml cold water
30g egg (roughly 3/4 of a large egg)

120g sweet potatoes, cubed, steamed and finely mashed with fork
30g butter, cubed

1 egg, beaten
Sesame seeds for sprinkling


1. Mix ingredients A until well-blended. Add in ingredients B and ingredients C, knead to form a dough.

2. Add in ingredients D, continue to knead to form a smooth and elastic dough.

3. Mould the dough round, place it in a lightly greased bowl and cover with cling wrap. Place in a warm place to allow it to proof for 45 min.

4. Punch the dough down (to release excess carbon dioxide from the yeast) and knead briefly. Divide the dough into 8 equal portions and mould it round by tucking it in at the bottom. Place 4 pieces into a greased loaf tin or round 20cm cake tin. Place the rest of the pieces in another tin. Space the pieces about 2 inches apart to allow room to rise.

5. Let it proof for 50-60 min or until its size doubles. Brush with eggwash and sprinkle over with sesame seeds.

6. Preheat oven to 180C and bake for 25 minutes. Remove and turn the loaves onto a wire rack to cool.

Overnight Sponge Dough

100g bread flour
60ml water at room temperature)
1/4 tsp instant yeast


Mix the instant yeast with 20ml water until dissolved. Add in the rest of the ingredients and knead to form a dough. Let it proof for 30 minutes. Cover with clingwrap and keep in the fridge overnight or up to 48 hours.

These are actually called white sweet potatoes, white outside but purple on the inside


Roxan said...

What beautiful rolls you made! I would love to make these... they look as delicious as they do beautiful. The last time I was at the Japanese market I looked for the white sweet potatoes but didn't see any. But to be honest I didn't look that hard. Next time I will look more closely.

Fern @ To Food With Love said...

Thanks Roxan! You can just use the orange sweet potatoes, they'd prob be sweeter. Maybe try searching the freezer section for the purple/white potatoes? I found frozen yams there once.

ilovefood said...

They look delicious!! What do I do if I don't have a scale to measure out the grams? I really want to make this, but I don't know how I'm supposed to convert everything. And also when I mix the ingredients, I can use my hands to knead without the use of flour right? And it won't stick. Please help~~

Thank you(:

To Food With Love said...

Thanks! It's better to use a weighing scale, but if not, you can try approximating by converting grams to cups. Here's a link
And yes, you can knead with your hands. Just flour your hands and surface so it doesn't stick so much.