Monday, December 19, 2011

Sweet Potato-Streusel Quick Bread

Talk about quick: not only does this batter bread need no rising time, but you can make a few components in the microwave for even speedier preparation.  It's a deliciously impressive loaf; make as a hostess gift, or keep on hand for a quick lunch after a morning of holiday shopping. 

  • 1 (12-ounce) sweet potato
  • 2 teaspoons vegan butter
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 tablespoons vegan brown sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup packed vegan brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2/3 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 Ener-G egg 
  • Cooking spray
1. Pierce the potato several times with a fork and place on paper towels in the microwave.  Microwave for 6 to 7 minutes, turning over halfway through, until soft.  Wrap in a paper towel and let stand for 5 minutes, then carefully peel (use caution - it will still be hot); mash to equal 1 cup.

2. To make the streusel topping, place the butter in a microwave-safe dish and microwave for 20 seconds.  Stir in the pecans and 2 tablespoons brown sugar; set aside.

3. Lightly spoon the flours into dry measuring cups and level with a knife.  Combine the flours in a bowl with 3/4 cup brown sugar, the baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg.  Add the mashed sweet potato, orange juice, canola oil, and Ener-G egg, stirring until well blended.

Note: The batter smells amazing as you stir - one whiff and I swear my past slammed into me, with the scent of the Hermit Cookies from Freihofer that I used to love eating in middle school.  How nice to know I can recreate some of that taste and scent with this batter (and thanks to my mom for helping me remember the name of the cookies).

4. Spoon into an 8x4-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray.  Drop the pecan mixture by spoonfuls over the top of the loaf, and press into the batter with the back of a spoon - make sure to press firmly, or you risk losing the pecan mixture when you slice the bread after baking.

5. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour - a wooden pick inserted in the center should come out clean.  Cool the loaf for 5 minutes in the pan on a wire rack.  Remove from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack.

I particularly liked pairing the bread with the Chicken-Apple Crunch Salad on this blog for a light lunch.

Note: A quick trick for slicing this bread; if you think electric knives are only for meat-eaters, think again.  The electric knife from Cuisinart comes with two blades, one specifically designed for making the cleanest slices of homemade bread.  Because of the crumbly streusel topping, this is an excellent opportunity to put it to work.

Nutrition Info:
16 servings (1 slice), Calories 174

Tasting Notes:
Yum yum - all the tastes and scents of a sweet potato pie, in a texture very close to banana bread.  The streusel topping was wonderfully sweet (the batter itself only lightly so), but I didn't love how easily it crumbled off of the top.  Next time, I would spoon half the batter into the pan, fill with the streusel mixture, and top with the remaining batter, so that the sugary swirl would be in the center of the loaf.  I was slightly disappointed to find that - while the center was perfect after 1 hour of baking - the edges were a little too crispy and browned.  If you don't want to eat the slightly-burnt outer edge, I recommend simply trimming it off.


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