Thursday, 14 January 2016

A golden Sweet Potato Loaf

This is my third post this week and I think I'm almost all posted out. But I'll soldier on because there's a good-looking loaf below that's just asking to be introduced. The Sweet Potato Loaf is the January Bread Bible recipe. It's a plain white loaf enlivened with the addition of some mashed sweet potato. This was a nice loaf although I thought it was tastiest when I toasted it rather than fresh.

I was pleased with the way it looked when it came out of the oven but I was disappointed once I tried it, because the texture was a bit crumbly.  I had previously noticed that the two wholemeal loaves the Alpha Bakers made out of the Baking Bible have been a bit crumbly too (my loaves, that is, not the other bakers'). A google search suggested that crumbliness can be caused by not enough kneading (and therefore not enough gluten production), plus other things like over-proofing or proofing at too high a temperature. Gluten formation can also be affected by the level of protein in the flour. I suspected my problem was not-enough-kneading and/or proofing issues.

Challah biga keeping company with Sweet Potato Loaf sponge. The next big names in cartoon characters perhaps?

I started the Challah and the Sweet Potato Loaf at the same time but the loaf was finished that day unlike the Challah. Once the sweet potato is roasted (which took what seemed a very long time) it was a simple process to mix and knead in the stand mixer.

When the dough is initially mixed it looks a bit unlikely. Mine had little lumps of sweet potato. They disappeared after the longer kneading period as you can see a couple of photos down. I would have found the lumps 'charming' if they'd remained. 

You can see in the photo below that, after kneading, the dough looked like it had some gluten development (to my unpractised eye). But I didn't look at it particularly carefully, just relying on the timing the recipe gave for kneading in the stand mixer. When I was making the Challah (the day after this loaf) I tried the 'windowpane test' to check the gluten. I'm not saying I knew what I was doing but it did prompt me to knead it for a bit longer. I'm planning on keeping a more careful eye on the state of the dough after kneading.

In future I'm also planning to keep a more careful eye on the dough while it's proofing - particularly making sure that I put it to rise in an area that isn't too warm. Although, I tried this with the challah and then promptly got distracted and returned too late to check it, only to find the dough spilling over the top of the container. Luckily the challah seemed not to be affected by this neglect.

The dough was a lot more yellow than the photo shows. It was a definite orangey golden colour.

You can't see the crumbly texture here. The loaf cut nicely but the slice fell apart quite easily on eating. It still made pretty tasty toast.

In February the Bread Bible Alpha Bakers are making Pretzel Bread.

1 comment:

  1. Wow Catherine! This is an impressive post with all the yeast/gluten detective work. Isn't it amazing how much we've learned in just a few short months? I, too, kneaded the dough a bit longer in the mixer until the stands were well formed falling from the dough hook. I'm going to try your window pane tip next time. I remember the gal on British Bake Off doing that and her bakes were the best. At any rate, your bread looks simply lovely!