At the moment, I’m loving the chill in the air that signals early Autumn. The leaves are starting to turn, the days are drawing in and there’s already a sense of anticipation about the ‘C’ word. I also want to eat nothing but orange vegetables. Carrots, sweet potato and butternut squash become a staple of my weekly trip to the greengrocers. Most often I roast them with spices such as cumin and cinnamon, but also enjoy them simply boiled and mashed with lots of butter and salt.
Sweet potato is so versatile, being equally at home in sweet and savoury recipes. The unassuming knobbly vegetable lends itself really well to being baked into cakes. Vegetables in cakes is nothing new – if you go beyond the undeniable cliché of carrot cake there’s a whole new world out there. I’ve got a whole cookbook dedicated to cakes which contain all manner of vegetables, from courgette and lemon cakes to aubergine in brownies (yes, really).
My friend Clare and I thought that some gentle Sunday afternoon baking was in order. So we decided to use the sweet potato to make some savoury muffins, utilising the natural sweetness of the vegetable to combine with the sour goats cheese. We used a combination of wholemeal, plain and polenta flour in this recipe, giving the muffins a slightly grainy texture and a more full flavour. But if you don’t want to faff around with this just use plain or wholemeal. The general muffin method is to mix together all the dry and all the wet ingredients and fold one into the other. The highlight for me of making these muffins was mashing the boiled sweet potato together with a frankly obscene amount of butter into a gooey puddle, then eating a sneaky spoonful (or three).
Makes about 6.
1 sweet potato
100g wholemeal flour
50g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
50g polenta flour
60g walnut pieces
60g crumbly goats’ cheese
½ tsp ground cumin
4 medium eggs, beaten
Muffin tin, lined with muffin cases.
Preheat the oven to 180C. Peel the sweet potato and chop it into chunks. Put in a pan and cover with water, then bring to the boil and simmer for 10 mins, until soft. Drain and mash in the pan with the butter. Stir in the eggs. Mix together the flours, polenta and baking powder in a bowl, the mix in the walnut pieces and cumin, then crumble in the goats’ cheese. Gently fold the flour mixture in to the wet mixture until just combined. Spoon into the muffin tin, filling the holes right up to the top. Bake for 20 mins until springy to the touch.