Since Thanksgiving is just around the corner, I decided to try and come up with a bread that used two of my favorite flavors, and which compliment each other perfectly. Nothing says Thanksgiving more than sweet potatoes and oranges. This is a combination that is usually baked with brown sugar, cinnamon, and topped with marshmallows. I didn't want to repeat that so decided to come up with a quick bread (or tea cake as this type of bread is sometimes called). I used American sweet potatoes for this but will do another quite soon using the sweet potato with which I grew up eating in the Caribbean, called Boniato. For the orange flavor, I drew inspiration from a cake that is commonly made in the Middle East, and Spain where the whole orange is cooked prior to using in the recipe. I did not want to use orange juice as I have never found the flavor of that in cooking to be very strong or even noticeable. The resulting bread was a delicious bread with the orange as a background note. Because I boiled the orange before, there was no bitterness associated with the taste. The selection of spices I elected to use also complimented the flavors by adding a "gingery citrusy" flavor to the bread! The recipe is a bit tedious because if the preparation but once all the pieces are assembled, it's mixed up quite quickly. The bread is a bit sweeter than many of my other breads but sometimes we all need a holiday from "sugar" watching!
1 cup bread flour
½ cup oatmeal
½ cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1½ teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon coriander
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon cardamom
Juice of one lemon or lime
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup oil
¼ cup Greek yogurt (not fat free)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1small orange, boiled, enough to yield ½ cup of puree (see directions. I used a medium Navel orange and it was more than enough)
¼ cup water
½ cup dried, chopped cranberries
2 tablespoons honey OR Golden Syrup OR Maple Syrup
1 tablespoon molasses
11/4 cups peeled, grated sweet potato, tightly packed
1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease and flour a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan and set aside. I also line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper
2. Wash the whole orange carefully. Trim about 1⁄2" from the tops and bottoms of oranges. Cover with water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Drain. Repeat boiling process twice more with fresh water. Again, cover the orange with cold water. Bring the water to a rolling boil, lower the heat, and simmer with the cover on for about 1- 1 1/2 hours. Don’t try to rush this part as the prolonged boiling minimizes the bitterness of the skin and pith. Tip: I used a pressure cooker to do this in 30 minutes. Remove from heat but don’t flash cool, let it cool naturally until the pressure has dropped, and it is safe to open. Allow the orange to cool. The orange is “cooked” when the rind gives easily when pierced with a fork. This step can be done the day before and the puree kept in the fridge until ready to use.
3. Mix together the flours, oatmeal, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and dry spices. Set aside.
4. Boil the water and pour over the chopped cranberries. Allow these to soak.
5. While the orange is cooking, grate the sweet potato. Squeeze the juice of one lemon or lime over it and set aside. Add the honey, molasses, vanilla, and chopped, soaked fruit to this mixture.
6. Cut the cooked orange into chunks (including peel, pith and pulp but remove seeds if any. I had no seeds to remove since I used a Navel orange). Puree the chunks in a food processor to a paste and add to the grated sweet potato mixture.
7. Beat the eggs, brown sugar, yogurt and oil until pale in color, and slightly thickened. Add the orange sweet potato mixture to this and mix until just incorporated.
8. Add the dry ingredients at one time and mix at low speed on your mixer until just incorporated (no more than 10-15 seconds). Do not over mix even if the batter appears lumpy. The batter will be very thick, and dense as it is a bread, not a cake! Immediately pour into your prepared 9 x 5-inch loaf pan.
9. Bake at 350°F for about 1 ¼ - 1 1/2 hours or until a bamboo skewer or cake tester inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean. You may have to decrease the oven temperature to 325 degrees Fahrenheit for the last 15 or so minutes if the bread starts to burn at the edges. Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes before removing from the pan.