Added Note: It’s been brought to my attention that this post ALMOST contains a recipe for a Mardi Gras King cake. I have to admit that until I started googling this morning, I had no idea what a King cake even was! But this colorful bread only lacks a green component and a plastic baby doll baked inside to turn it into a fairly traditional King cake, perfect for Shrove Tuesday. I mention below that using pureed spinach can give you a nice green strand for your braided vegetable bread, so really…it’s all here. I just didn’t know it!
Two different types of sweet potatoes give this fun bread its circus-like color. Sweet potatoes add great texture, flavor, and color to homemade bread. I used deep orange Beauregard sweet potatoes and deep purple sweet potatoes that I purchased from SauraPride. If you google purple sweet potatoes, you can find plenty of suggestions for where to find them. Larger cities may have Asian markets that carry purples. There are a number of places that ship purple sweet potatoes, including Stokes Foods which sells the Saura Pride purples that I buy. (The website can direct you where to buy the purples.)
Sweet Potato Twist
I started by baking 3 small sweet potatoes of each color at 375° until they were fork-tender. I peeled the skins off of them and mashed them up thoroughly. Of course I made sure that I didn’t get the colors mixed together. Purple and orange mixed together make brown…not really any fun if you’re looking for the circus.
I actually made two different doughs that I eventually twisted together to make loaves. For each loaf I did the following:
I made a sponge out of
- 2 c. warm water
- the mashed sweet potatoes of one color
- 2 c. bread flour
- 2 T. oil
- 2 T. sugar
- 1 T. yeast
- 2 t. salt
I let that sponge bubble and develop gluten for about 30 minutes. Then I gradually kneaded in 3 to 4 c. of additional bread flour. I do this in my Bosch mixer. Once I’ve added all the flour, I knead the dough on 2nd speed for 9-10 minutes. When I had a working Kitchenaid, it only took about 5 minutes. Kneading by hand takes 12-14 minutes.
I let the dough rise for about an hour or until it doubled in size. While this batch was rising, I finished up the second batch of dough using the second color of sweet potato.
Now…about those colors….I didn’t get a strong enough orange color from the orange sweet potatoes so I added 2 t. of turmeric which gave me a bright yellow. The turmeric gave the bread a little bit of savory bite which contrasted nicely with the sweet potato flavor. I’ve also found that fresh cooked beets can be pureed and used to make beautiful deep RED bread. Spinach can give you a deep green bread if you puree the spinach first in the blender. Tomato powder will turn bread a nice orange-red too. My son Michael informed me that whole wheat or rye flour would have given me a deeper purple color.
Once I had both colors of dough kneaded and doubled in size, it was time to form the loaves. I opted to roll the two colors out and twist them together into long loaves. I’m not very good at braiding dough but I’m sure this would look just amazing with a 3- or 4-strand braid of the two colors.
Once the loaves were formed and on the baking sheets, I covered the loaves with lint-free tea towels and let them rise until they were approximately doubled in size. Meanwhile, I preheated the oven to 400° for about 30 minutes.
I baked the loaves for 35-40 minutes (until the quick-read thermometer read 190° when inserted into the middle of each loaf.)
This bread was really delicious; the sweet potatoes gave it a great flavor. It was also just plain fun. The bright colors were all a natural result of the sweet potatoes and the turmeric, so there were no artificial dyes making it look that way.
I really love to add veggies to my breads because it gives me more nutritional value for my sandwich, if you know what I mean. It’s also just fun to see what you end up with!
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