Monthly Archives: October 2014

Sweet potato brownies with chestnut flour


Between visitors, a quick trip to Norway and fighting a cold, my vegetable drawer has been neglected. Time to stock up on pumpkin and chestnuts, leeks and potatoes, and to use up my last two sweet potatoes. Fiesta Friday was passing me by, but how could I miss the big birthday shebang? Happy birthday Angie at The Novice Gardener! So I made these brownies today, dark and sticky, in honour of her birthday fiesta.

Sweet potato brownies with chestnut flour

250 grammes mashed and cooled sweet potato (1-2 medium sweet potatoes)
3 eggs
1 tbs honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbs sunflower oil

80 grammes chestnut flour
3 tbs cocoa powder (for baking)
1 tsp baking powder

65 grammes dark chocolate, chopped coarsely
25 grammes butterscotch bits, optional
1/2 tsp vanilla salt (or plain salt)

For serving: icing sugar for dusting, optional

Whisk the eggs, then add honey, oil and vanilla extract. Add dry ingredients, then add chopped chocolate, salt and butterscotch bits, if using them. Do not overmix. Line a small baking tray (20×30 cm) with baking parchment. Bake at 180C for 25 minutes, until dry on top but still squidgy inside. Cool, and dust with a little icing sugar before serving.


Notes: If you do not have leftover sweet potato, cook your sweet potato (oven, microwave or steamed on stovetop). I peeled and steamed these, then mashed them. I was aiming for a very dark kladdkaka texture, the gooey Swedish chocolate cake. It is not very sweet. You might want this sweeter, just add more honey or sugar for that. I had some chestnut flour, so used that, but plain flour would work too. I might try this again with a little chili pepper, or black pepper. Very nice with a cup of tea and last week’s Downton Abbey. Happy FF39 to all!

Fiesta Friday


Sweet potato muffins

imageYou know, I read so many amazing food blogs and admire your collective creativity, style and flair. Thanks for sharing! Then I baked these muffins, enjoyed them, and totally forgot to take any pictures…. until the last four were taken to the office for colleagues Monday morning. Hence this amazing photo shoot with Post-it blocks. These muffins are adapted from a great recipe from Lori at Creating Beauty in the Kitchen: Cinnamon Sweet Potato Muffins with Dark Chocolate Chips and a Cinnamon Topping (does that not just sound incredibly delicious?). Definitely a recipe you should try. I made those with chocolate, and again with orange zest, and this was variation #3.

Sweet potato muffins

1 medium sweet potato (about 325 grammes weight, once roasted and peeled and coarsely mashed)
2 eggs
1 dl milk
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
170 grammes plain white wheat flour (I used 00)
40 grammes golden syrup
1 tbs honey
15 grammes golden caster sugar

Whisk eggs and sugar. Stir all ingredients together, briefly, then spoon into paper muffin molds in a muffin tray. Bake at 180C for 25 minutes.


Same four muffins, now perched on my keyboard. My colleagues scoffed them shortly after.

Notes: You could also use 50 grammes of just golden syrup or honey, I was just emptying out a box of syrup. This was a white sweet potato, which surprised me, as the ones we see here are usually orange inside. Maybe it was a yam, despite the store label? After all, I have seen limes in the store marked “limone Caraibi”, Caribbean lemons. Normally I would get sweet potatoes at Piazza Vittorio, the big ethnic market in Rome, so I was thrilled to find sweet potatoes at Tuodi, one of the discount supermarkets. They also had limes, AND purple potatoes, for some reason. I question not the mystery appearances of random vegetables, I just try them.

Anyway, the white sweet potato was not very sweet, so I added a spoon of honey, which seemed to bring out the cinnamon taste in the batter as well. Strangely, the sweet potato pieces had turned green by the next day, like pieces of grated zucchini. I have no idea why that happened, and the taste was still great. I still have couple more sweet potatoes, and will have to see what I do with those next.

Walnut sourdough loaf

Another beautiful sunny day here in Rome, so my visiting mother-in-law and I ambled round Garbatella, my neighbourhood. She had seen a cardigan at one of the bancarelle, the street stalls that carry clothes, shoes, kitchenware, underwear, sheets: most stalls change neighborhoods almost every day, so we never found her cardigan. On our walk today, we met this Italian tour group twice. Professional guide, remote headsets, discussing Fascist architecture; I did not want to disappoint their experience of a genuine Roman quartiere by speaking English, so we quietly passed them. Here they are in our piazza, photographing the “La Garbatella” relief on the wall.

No cardigan, but I did get sewing needles, and met neighbours at the regular neighborhood market. Such a sign of respectability, to introduce your suocera (mother-in-law). I realized this after a neighbour in Testaccio (another Rome neighbourhood) told me they thought I must have a dark and terrible past, since my parents never came to visit. Years later, I do appreciate that my respectability ranking has edged up this week, having in-laws here. They are so nice, and are enjoying themselves immensely.
Walnut sourdough
This is a sourdough loaf I baked for their arrival.

Walnut sourdough loaf

100 grammes mature sourdough starter, 100% hydration
400 grammes lukewarm water
375 grammes plain white wheat flour (I used 00)
125 grammes wholewheat flour
40 grammes of shelled walnuts
8 grammes salt

Stir the sourdough starter with the water. Add the flours and mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 20 minutes. After this initial rest, add the salt. Fold dough with a spatula. Add more flour or water if you think the dough needs it.


Cover the bowl and let rise for about a couple hours at room temperature. Fold the dough a few times (just in the bowl, using a spoon or spatula). You will feel the dough becoming more elastic and responsive, and it will increase nicely in size. Fold in the walnuts during the last fold. I had bought these nuts at the farmers market, fresh walnuts. Just crack them and tiss the shelled nuts in, no need to chop them.

For baking same day: move the dough to a floured banneton and cover it with plastic (a hotel shower cap works well), and let it rise 5-6 hours at room temperature.  I cheat, and line the banneton with baking paper, less pretty markings but easier to lift over to the pot. OR: If you are in Rome, it is October and your kitchen is still 27C, leaving the dough to rise overnight in the fridge might work better. Depends when you want to eat and have time to bake.
Walnut sourdough

When ready to bake: heat your oven to 250C, with a cast iron pot. When it is properly hot (or after at least 20 minutes), take the pot out carefully. Invert the dough onto a piece of baking paper, slash the dough, and put the bread in the pot. Bake at 250C for thirty minutes with the lid on, then 10-15 minutes more with the lid off, until the bread looks done and the base of the bread sounds hollow if you tap it. About 45 minutes in all, depending on your oven. Cool before slicing.
This is my contribution to Fiesta Friday: a fragrant walnut-speckled loaf. A little late, but with visitors here, time is tight. Happy FF 37 to all! Special thanks to our gracious hosts Angie at The Novice Gardener, Julianna at Foodie on Board, and Hilda at Along the Grapevine. I am going to browse and admire the wonderful FF contributions now, I am always delighted and inspired by what you all bring! Thanks for sharing.

Fiesta Friday