Sweet Potato and Blueberry Scones

There’s just something about sweet potato that elevates it’s standards to becoming a patisserie ingredient, beside being another tuber variety.

To whom doesn’t already know, Aljezur is the sweet potato capital in Portugal, known for having the best product in the country. Even the world. The town has a festival and a museum dedicated to it, and it is fairly popular with locals and rural tourism comers and goers.

Incorporating the sweet potato in a scone just seemed ideal for trying something new, while using a traditional and regional ingredient.

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This recipe is adapted from another I found in my favorite pastry book – Bouchon Bakery by Sebastian Rouxel and Thomas Keller. Everytime I bake something out of this book, the results are divine and may I add that the pictures are beautiful, and not to mention that every bit of information is spot on professional. My weighing or cupping page is mostly based on everything I’ve learned while discovering this good read. Every recipe comes in both formats, so wether you prefer imperial measurements or have an everlasting relationship with your metric scale – you are bond to enjoy the results as much as the process itself.

The addition of frozen blueberries was meant for tartness, a little contrast against the sweet, and the color.

pre scones

Go nuts with the diluted egg wash and sprinkle plenty of caster sugar. Sprinkle it everywhere!

I baked this batch of scones twice: the first half was the morning after I put them in the freezer from making them the night before, and the rest two weeks later. If you are not a fan of freezers, with all those ice crystals ruining the consistency and proportionating off-flavors – please read on and think twice about this technique for baked goods, as it helps flavor maturation and texture stability. You know those delightfully scrumptious macaroons sold everywhere in France? The are sold only after at least 48 hours of chilling in negative temperatures (ºC). Michelin Star restaurant pastry chefs go by this rule, and you can’t have a star if you don’t end the meal with a bang, wether it’s dessert or Petit Fours, trust me when I tell you that at least one of those elements was previously frozen.

What I experienced with this recipe was: the second batch was better than the first. Tastier, with a better texture and a bit less fragile than the first batch. Just try it out yourself, and you will see what I mean.

after oven scones 2

The recipe (altered to include the sweet potato):

  • 152 grams whole wheat flour
  • 304 grams regular flour (the original recipe calls for cake flour – we don’t have that here, so I used what we call T55, which is sort of the same)
  • 227 grams cold salted butter (I use salted because I LOVE salty flavor in sweets)
  • 12,5 grams baking powder (ok, for all you imperial lovers, 2 1/2 teaspoons)
  • 2,5 grams baking soda (1/2 teaspoon)
  • 91 grams caster sugar
  • 200 ml cream
  • 180 grams baked sweet potato pure (whichever sweet potato you desire – I like the orange ones, the sweetness is wonderful)
  • 1 cup blueberries

after oven scones

Procedure: turn the oven on 200ºC and bake the sweet potatoes whole, skin on, for about 45 minutes to an hour. Peel the potatoes and blend the amount of pulp necessary with the cream. Set aside and mix baking soda, powder and sugar with the flours. Use a food processor to pulse this combination with the cold butter (or a fork – the tips of your fingers will melt the butter and reduce flakiness in the final product). Incorporate the cream and sweet potato mix, but not too much as you don’t want any of that gluten gaining any strength. Add the blueberries and stir gently. Set in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

scones after oven 3

Roll the dough on a floured surface to be at least 1,5 to 2 cm high and cut to your liking. Lay on a tray with parchment paper and let them freeze for about 2 hours. At this point, gather them in a zippy bag, or if you plan to leave them in the freezer for a few weeks, wrap each one individually with plastic film.

up above scones

Now to bake them: diluted egg wash, plenty of caster sugar and straight into a 170ºC oven, for about 20 minutes, or until golden and slightly larger in size. Don’t let them defrost before going in the oven.

sweet potato scones

 Always best served warm, with thin slithers of butter. Obviously.

 

 

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Carob brownies

The carob tree is widely known and found throughout mediterranean lands. Planted and cultivated by the arabs, and furtherly maintained by future generations who cherrished the utilities of this plant and fruit.

Before the sugar cane was imported, carob flour and syrup were used as sweetners, like honey and beetroot were too.

Only recently has the carob byproducts become popular for dietetic purposes, but for many years it has been a popular potuguese dessert ingredient, and a reflection of our inherited culture.

Also known for medicinal treatments (colds, flues, intestinal issues), and also known as the best cocoa substitute because fat content is lower (more carbs and fiber, that’s why carob is sweet and cocoa is bitter), no allergens, nor stimulants. Very rich in vitamins and minerals, like A, B, niacin, calcium, magnesium, iron, etc.

The food industry has developed many desserts and sweets thanks to this ingredient’s emulsifying, thickening and flavourfull properties.

A remarkable curiositie about the carob tree is it’s ability to survive in dry hot climates, enduring long periods without water. The fruit grows into a sort of pod, where tiny carot size seeds linger (these were actually used to measure a carot of precious stones hundreds of years ago – science later on proved that the size of the seeds/beans isn’t always the same). After drying, the subproducts are obtained (the leftover pods are worthwhile for animal feed) and sold in many supermarkets and health food stores.

Portugal is the forth most productive country in the world! Horray for us!

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Although I love cocoa, I’m always keen to pursue interesting and available substitutes, and carob flour goes remarkably well in a brownie recipe – even if you don’t like the ingredient, you will love it this way!

Instead of butter, I use avocado, so dairy free and no saturated fat. Just to make it even healthier, whole wheat flour and coconut sugar! Try it out, you won’t be disappointed.

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The original recipe (with butter, chocolate/cocoa) is from my Better Homes & Gardens cookbook (oh, my mother’s, she asked for royalties, sorry), it’s the best version of brownies I’ve ever made. I topped my recipe with some almonds and served it with nectarine slices and a plum coulie my mother made, to use up the plums that were falling desperatly off the tree. Very sour, but excellent to balance the flavors and cut the sweetness.

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The recipe:

  • 1/2 cup carob flour
  • 1/2 cup cocunut sugar (or brown)
  • 2 eggs
  • Pulp from 1 avocado
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Just blend the wets, mix in the dry (carob and whole wheat flour) and bake in 170ºC oven for 20-25 minutes (I like my brownies very fudgy, so I always take them out ahead of time).

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