Sweet Potato Braid Bread

Lizzie and I took off to Washington for a week to see the family. And, to go to the Puyallup Fair! The weather was great, I got my scone and Lizzie had far too much fun with my parents’ golden retriever. One of my sisters was also visiting and she brought along a Fall Baking Taste of Home magazine. I knew I just had make something from it before I left. Since I was still on a high from my successful yeasty sticky rolls, I picked another yeast bread to try. Ta-da! My bravery is slowly paying off.

With the sweet potato, I just microwaved it for about 6 minutes and then mashed it with a fork. Much faster than baking it if you don’t have any leftovers on hand. This is not a sweet bread, but has just a tiny hint from the honey. The thyme really makes the bread stand out and it adds a certain depth of flavor that makes the bread hard to stop eating. If you don’t have or like thyme, I think it’d still be great without it. This was also my first time braiding a dough- it was fun and made me feel like I was more of a creator and “shaper” of this dough, as cheesy as that sounds :)

I’ve been horrible about taking pics of Lizzie lately. Thankfully, my sister took a few while we were visiting. Lizzie’s quite the character. Sometimes she just lays down wherever for the heck of it, like so:

Hearty Sweet Potato Braid, makes 2 loaves

1 package (1/4 oz.) active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (110 to 115 degrees)
1 1/2 cups mashed sweet potatoes, room temperature (about 1 large sweet potato)
1 cup warm fat-free milk (110 to 115 degrees)
1/4 cup canola oil
3 tablespoons honey
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 3/4 to 3 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon cold fat-free milk

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water.  Add the sweet potatoes, milk, oil, honey, all-purpose flour, cornmeal, salt, thyme and 2 cups whole wheat flour; beat until smooth.  Stir in enough remaining whole wheat flour to form a firm dough.

Turn onto a lightly floured surface.  Knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes.  Place in a bowl coated with cooking spray; turn once to coat top.  Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

Punch down dough; divide into 6 equal portions. Shape each into a 20-inch rope, place 3 ropes on baking sheet coated with cooking spray; braid. Pinch ends to seal and tuck under. Repeat with remaining ropes. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 35 minutes.

Brush loaves with cold milk. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove loaves to wire racks to cool.