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Friday, November 7, 2014

Spice-Swirled Cranberry Sweet Potato Bread | #ThreeLoaves Movement

Spice-Swirled Cranberry Sweet Potato Bread #ThreeLoaves Project #bread #sweetpotatoes

That is the premise of the Three Loaves Movement, the brainchild of Jerry from Cooking Stoned. Inspired by his 2010 participation in the Yahoo!'s Ripple of Kindness project, Jerry kicked off this movement in which food is a form of activism. The challenge, for all who are willing to accept it, is to bake three loaves of bread a month (aka one for you, one for a friend, and one for someone in need) that feature sustainable and seasonal ingredients.  Since baking and sharing bread is something that I do on a monthly basis anyway, I loved the thought of taking part in this movement. I say it all the time—not much compares to a freshly baked loaf of bread—comfort, happiness, nourishment.

So, it's November. Obviously pumpkin and winter squash come to mind when I think seasonal produce here in the Midwest. My mind also goes directly to Thanksgiving. A table heavy with seasonal foods for which to share and give thanks. I toyed with the idea of going the savory route and combining brussels sprouts, garlic, onions, and potatoes. And though I didn't go that direction, I may still push them into some soft focaccia dough in the next couple of weeks.

Instead I decided that sweet potatoes were the way to go. I pictures my family's favorite rustic potato loaves, and thought that maybe swapping out sweet potatoes would yield the same great results, but with a beautiful orange hue to reflect the season. But then visions of cranberries and spice started swirling in my head, which transferred themselves to the inside of my sweet potato loaves. Instead of sharing savory loaves, I wound up sharing enriched loaves that were studded with cranberries and punctuated by a sweet and spicy swirl.

Spice-Swirled Cranberry Sweet Potato Bread #ThreeLoaves Project #bread #sweetpotatoes
I am happy that I went that direction—I mean, the smell alone could bring a smile to people a half a block away. At first glance, the loaves are simple and unassuming...but as a slice is cut to reveal the tempting inside, it's apparent that the loaf is special enough to dress up a holiday breakfast. Try making french toast or bread pudding with it, and people will request it year after year.

On the subject of making bread from scratch (this or any), I really recommend using a kitchen scale to weigh the ingredients—it's an investment that you will never regret. If you have one, use the weight measurements in the recipe below. If you don't, then stir your flour around to unpack it before using; scoop it into your measuring cup, and then scrape it level with a flat-edge.

Spice-Swirled Cranberry Sweet Potato Bread
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Spice-Swirled Cranberry Sweet Potato Bread
Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez
Published 11/08/2014
A special loaf of bread, infused with sweet potatoes, studded with cranberries, and swirled with sugar and spice. Makes amazing toast, bread pudding, and french toast!


for the dough:
  • 2 smallish sweet potatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 1/2 cups lukewarm (110° F) water
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 ounces (4 tablespoons / 1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
  • 5 1/2 cups (715 g / 25.3 ounces) unbleached bread flour + more for work surface
  • 4 cups (520 g / 18.4 ounces) whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse sea salt or kosher salt
  • 1 heaping cup dried cranberries
for the spice swirl:
  • 2 tablespoons milk, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
to finish:
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter, optional


  1. Place sweet potatoes into a medium pot, cover with water by an inch, then bring the water to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook until just tender, ~15 minutes (a thin-bladed paring knife should slide through the center easily). Drain and allow to sit until cool enough to handle. Peel off the skin and whip the sweet potatoes, using a hand mixer; you should have about a lightly heaped cup (272 g / 9.6 ounces); set aside.
  2. Danish dough whisk
  3. Scald the milk by putting it into a small pot, then heating it to the point where small bubbles form around the edges. Remove from heat and let cool a bit (if you pour it immediately, the milk will sputter and splat as you try to pour it out of the pot). Once it has cooled to lukewarm, combine it with the water and maple syrup in a very large bowl. Sprinkle the yeast over the surface and stir it in a bit. Let it bloom and become creamy, 5-10 minutes.
  4. In the meantime, whisk together the butter, eggs, and sweet potato puree. Once the yeast has bloomed, whisk in the wet mixture. Stir in the flours and salt. The easiest way to accomplish this task is using a Danish dough whisk, but if you don't have one (and don't want to invest in one), then you can use a wooden spoon.
  5. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and scatter the cranberries over the top. Fold in cranberries, and then knead the dough until it is smooth, silky, and only slightly sticky, 10-15 minutes - you may need to add a bit more flour to your work surface as you knead (approximately 1/2 cup or 64 grams more). Use a bench scraper to lift the dough if it sticks.
  6. dough 1
  7. Form dough into a (very large) ball and place into an oiled bowl, turning once to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, 60-90 minutes.
  8. dough 2
  9. Punch dough down. Lightly flour your work surface again and turn dough out. Gently roll the dough into a very large rectangle, approximately 27" x 12". Combine the sugar and spices. Gently rub the milk across the whole surface of the dough, then sprinkle the sugar-spice mixture evenly over the moistened dough.
  10. dough 3
  11. Roll the dough (jellyroll style), keeping it as tight as possible. Cut the dough into three even sections, ~9" each.
  12. Pinch the open edges together and tuck underneath the dough. Place in well-greased 9" x 5" loaf pans. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, ~45 minutes.
  13. Preheat the oven to 350° F during last 15 minutes of rise time.
  14. dough 4
  15. Remove plastic wrap and slide into preheated oven for ~45 minutes, or until golden (should register at least 190° F in the center on an instant read thermometer).
  16. Let bread cool in the pans on a rack for ~10 minutes.
  17. Brush the top of the loaves with the melted butter, if using. Turn the loaves out of the pans and set back on the wire racks to finish cooling.
Yield: 3 loaves
Prep Time: 03 hrs. 15 mins.
Cook time: 00 hrs. 45 mins.
Total time: 4 hrs. 00 mins.
Tags: bread, baking, sweet potatoes, cranberries, yeast, maple syrup
Spice-Swirled Cranberry Sweet Potato Bread #ThreeLoaves Project #bread #sweetpotatoes

Join the Three Loaves movement and help kick hunger’s ass.

I am also sharing these loaves with Susan's Yeastspotting!