Sweet Potato Muffin Experiment

I had two organic sweet potatoes sitting on my counter just waiting to be used. My family is not a huge fan of sweet potatoes for a multitude of reasons – it’s annoying. I didn’t want these to go to waste. It’s another snow day here as well and I thought muffins with a blend of spices and sweet rich undertones might be delicious. Cue the experiment.

Sweet Potato Muffin Experiment

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, cubed, steamed and mashed
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup oil (I used olive because it’s what I had – canola or vegetable would work)
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cups liquid honey
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice blend
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F. Prepare jumbo muffin trays (lightly oil or line with parchment or muffin cups.)
  2. Peel your sweet potatoes and cut into 1″ cubes. Steam or boil until soft.
  3. While your sweet potatoes are cooking, measure and whisk together your wet ingredients. Set aside.
  4. Measure and sift your dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
  5. When your sweet potatoes are soft, remove them from heat and mash. Allow them to cool slightly.
  6. Slowly add your wet ingredients to your dry ingredients, mixing with a wooden spoon or spatula. Mix well.
  7. Add your sweet potato mash to your mix. Mix well.
  8. Spoon evenly into prepared muffin top trays.
  9. Bake at 350°F for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the top of a muffin comes out clean.
Fresh from the oven…

After preparing, I taste tested. The recipe that inspired these called for almost 2 cups of sugar… no, thank you! I think you could increase the honey to 1 cup if desired. I was personally okay with the level of sweetness and fresh out of the oven they were delicious with a pat of butter. They could, however, definitely use a bit more spice – so flavour away to your heart’s content. The additional spice is not included in the recipe. Next time I’ll add extra cinnamon with the spice blend. Overall, these muffins are a satisfactory, subtly flavoured cold-weather treat. Delicious for breakfast or lunch when winter is blasting away, served with an almond milk chai latte. Your house will smell amazing!

Note: I used jumbo muffin pans (similar to these) in my experiment and they yielded 11 good sized muffins (12 if I had divided my mix evenly.) That being said, it would be simple enough to bake in a bundt pan, loaf pan (or 2), or regular muffin tray. Just adjust your baking time accordingly. (More for bundt or loaves, probably less for smaller muffins.)

Monday, Fun-day!

If you live anywhere in the Great Lakes area, generally speaking, you’ve probably been hit with the cold snap of the year. (I’m not exactly sure how far this crazy cold extended through North America, but I know that the GTA is cold!) School buses were cancelled last night in anticipation of the extreme weather and beasties were running outside to do their business as fast as they can. I *thought* I had pre-heated my car this morning (hello, remote start!), but it turns out my battery was protesting as much as my kids. (Even if I had won the battle to drive them to school on my way to work, Mother Nature had other plans.)

Now… what’s one day off of school? Well, let me remind you that we’ve had sick days, PA days, and now an inclement weather day. I love the slight sleep-in, but oh my word, I need the routine of regular school days. I love my boys dearly, but they know how to push my buttons!

I worked from the comfort of my kitchen table and eventually my couch. I got things done! The kids agreed if they stayed home from school, they would pitch in around the house (before we knew that I had no way of getting them there.) They got things done. We got things done… then it was a battle to pry them away from screens for the rest of the day.

Our youngest, 11 years old, has been watching cooking shows – Top Chef, Chopped, Nailed It, and SugarRush. These binges always result in his wanting to explore his culinary talents, until he gets bored, at least. Today, he decided he wanted to bake a cake. Good in theory, but I said I wasn’t doing it for him – I would guide him through the recipe, but the work was up to him. Also, I was supposed to do groceries today, and the staples cupboard was pretty bare – we didn’t even have milk.

He pulled out my well-worn BHG cookbook – my go-to for some basic recipes. (It looks something like this… maybe not the same edition?!) He found a chocolate cake recipe and decided this would be his ambitious trial for the day. Man, that kid knocked my socks off. He read through the recipe, pulled out the ingredients, measured and mixed, and put them in the oven. I helped him identify when they were ready to pull out, but he did the bulk of the work with a few learn-by-example steps along the way.

He’s a very opinionated boy – especially when he’s being creative. He wanted a butterscotch filling. So I managed to make a butterscotch pudding to use between layers of the two rounds. First time for me! He also required chocolate icing and wanted to melt down a mix of chocolate & butterscotch chips left over from our Christmas baking to drizzle on top. When it was all put together, I was seriously impressed – for a first attempt at baking a cake – and a layer cake at that – he rocked it!

It was a little dry, but I still cannot believe how well he did. It’s not the prettiest cake in the world, but it’s edible and yummy! A little slice goes a long way. So amidst the chaos of a mad Monday, we made some more memories, practised some life skills, and managed not to freeze any body parts off! (Also, I never lost my cool…) All in all, I’d consider that success… and seeing his confidence sore? It might have had me beaming in pride!

Banana Chocolate Chia Loaf – Experimental Baking

Justin (my supposedly not picky child) has been striking when it comes to breakfast.  With the Christmas holidays, I let it slide as we often seemed to graze or do more of a brunch.   With back to school and the attempt to get back into a routine, it bothers me that he’ll choose to leave the house at 7:30am on an empty stomach (and yet… I totally get it! Breakfast early is a hard one for me as well.)  Instead of the drama, I’ve been adding an extra piece of fruit to his lunch bag… and know that the school office supplies breakfast as well to anyone that would like it, that the first break is fairly early and he’s not going to starve, and that as a mother I’m not a failure because there are plenty of food options in the house.  However… breakfast… it’s the most important meal of the day, right!?! 

I asked him yesterday if he would like me to bake something – banana muffins, lemon poppyseed loaf, etc. to tempt his taste buds.  To him, baked goods are a treat, but with little changes I can up the protein, blend in some extra fruit, and cut back on the refined sugar without compromising the taste. I can also feel better about the breakfast battle.  Our discussion led to the decision that I’d make a chocolate banana loaf…. and it just came out of the oven… and I may have had two small slices for lunch. (And they may have been delicious!)

Unfortunately, I don’t have a recipe to share, because lately, I’ve been baking on instinct and prayers.  A bit of this, a bit of that, cross-reference a classic recipe if needed.   This Banana Chocolate Chia Loaf will never be reproduced in the exact same manner, but I’ve had the remarkable luck of each of my dump in the oven and hope for the best endeavours so I’m sure the next one will be just as tasty.

banana loaf

This hug-on-a-plate started with a few pouches of ChiAmigos (in two different flavours because I didn’t read the packages – whoops.)  I added a few teaspoons of PC Organic Chia Seeds.  These were all blended together with three bananas, a cup of flour, a little snack pack of applesauce (it was in Justin’s stocking from the extended family…), some salt, baking soda, baking powder, a good amount of cocoa, less than a quarter cup of oil, some water, a splash of milk, and a quarter cup of granulated sugar.


I used my KitchenAid mixer (best tool in my kitchen!) to blend it all together and then dipped a finger in to taste test.  I found it was missing a little something and didn’t have the rich chocolaty flavour I had hoped for, nor quite the right amount of sweetness.  I added more cocoa and drizzled in some maple syrup.  The finger dip taste test passed muster this time.   Baked for 45 minutes and it came out as perfect as you see in the image above. 

It has a deep chocolate flavour that’s not overwhelmed with banana – it’s not overly sweet on the palate at all.  I think beets or zucchini would work well in a similar concoction for an added veggie boost and it would be simple to use eggs, milk or no milk, oil or applesauce, maple syrup or sugar, or whatever you have kicking around.  It should just have a mix of essential ingredients and be the right consistency going into the pan (slightly softer batter for a cake, a bit heavier for a denser loaf.)  The only thing I feel like mine was missing was an extra banana (I only had 3 and they weren’t extra ripe) and some walnuts across the top would have been perfect!   You could even add in chocolate chips if that’s the way you like it.

Baking is definitely a science… but it can also be a delightful expression of the heart with some experimentation along the way!