Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Spicy Sweet Potato Spoon Bread

It’s a rainy Saturday. Finally. The setting is ideal: It’s the final days of February, and not a heat wave in sight. A monsoon is happening outside and I get to sit in my PJ’s at home, dry and warm. Just me, the blessed Internet and whatever I have at hand to cook. Some weekends are just about that.

Hmmm. What do I have to play with? The cupboards are pretty empty as I didnt go to the market this week. We're talking a few sweet potatoes. Thats it. Its all that I needed.

A while ago I found a treasure trove at my parents’ house. Among the vintage cookbook was also “The NY Times Bread & Soup Cookbook” by Yvonne Young Tarr that came out 34 years ago.

Its divided by types of cuisine, and each chapter lists short typical breads and soups recipes, including some risqué recipes such as Frog legs soup, a hot cucumber soup (that’s under the ‘diet’ section) and sheep’s head broth. They don’t make cookbooks like this anymore; few ingredients, several guidelines and an inherent simplicity that is true to the recipes' identity.

I decided to take a trip down the ‘American Plain & Fancy’ chapter and make a spoon bread. Spoon bread is not really bread, but more of a moist though solid savory pudding, apparently prevalent in parts of the Southern US.

Slicing a piece with a knife wouldn’t get you far, hence its name ‘spoon bread’.

The easiest recipe ever, any cookbook that takes me half way across the world in no time without leaving my house in search of random ingredients is on my good side.

Spicy sweet potato Spoon bread

Heavily adapted from

“The NY Times Bread & Soup Cookbook” by Yvonne Young Tarr

(Serves 4)

1 large sweet potato

2 Tbs butter (I used clarified butter)

2 Tbs cold press sunflower seed oil

1 Tbs sugar

¾ Tsp grated nutmeg

¾ Tsp crushed white peppercorns

½ Tsp mace

¼ Tsp cinnamon

2.5 Tbs whole-wheat flour (can be substituted for a gluten free recipe)

1/8 Tsp salt

1 egg


A handful of pumpkin seeds

A handful of flax seeds

Scrub the potatoes and boil until tender but not to soft, as whole chunks are always a pleasant surprise to stumble upon.

Preheat the oven to 220°C.

Peel and mash with the butter and oil. Add the sugar, spices, flour and salt and mix thoroughly.

Beat the egg and stir into the mixture.

Pour into a buttered pan and sprinkle the seeds on top.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool the bread in its pan on a wire rack.

Cut into squares and serve warm or at room temperature.

Update: this spoon bread is even better topped with a slice of anchovy.

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