The Silence of the Yams*
Yes! It’s high time overlooked and under-appreciated yams and other root vegetables asserted themselves. They’re not only full of health benefits, but delicious and colorful with their deep orange flesh. Yams are significant sources of vitamin B6 and potassium. They’re rich in fiber, complex carbohydrates and known as an energy boost.
Yams are great roasted, pureed, turned into sweet confections like pies and yes, yam bread. This is a quick bread, a snap to put together with no mixer or food processor needed. Great with a cup of tea or coffee. Actually, it’s somewhere between a bread and a cake and makes a scrumptious dessert.
This recipe was developed by my son Chris who is a terrific cook and has a natural talent for blending flavors together.
Set oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour the bottom and sides of a 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan. Set aside.
3 medium yams, rinsed and patted dry
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup sugar
1 t baking powder
¼ t baking soda
¼ t salt
1 t ground cinnamon
1/3 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
2 eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 t pure vanilla extract
1 ½ cups mixed dried fruit cut into a medium dice—apricots, dates, prunes, raisins, cranberries, candied orange peel (your choice)
(Optional)1/4 cup orange marmalade, heated in a small pan until syrupy
Roast 3 medium yams for about one hour until pierced easily with a sharp paring knife. Set aside to cool enough to handle.
In a large bowl combine the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nuts.
Cut yams in half and scoop out the pulp into a medium-sized bowl and mash (about 1 ½ cups). Add the eggs, melted butter and vanilla.
With a wooden spoon or spatula, gradually fold the dry ingredients into the wet. Add the chopped dried fruits and continue folding just until combined and the batter is thick and chunky. Don’t over mix.
Scrape batter into prepared pan. Bake for one hour at 350 degrees until bread is golden brown and an inserted toothpick comes out clean. At this point, if you like, you can glaze the loaf with melted orange marmalade. Place on a wire rack to cool. Run a table knife around edge and remove from the pan. Slice and serve. Makes one 9 X 5 X 3 inch loaf.
* Thanks to Michael Pollan for the title of my post. Pollan’s Food Rules is the most common sense approach to what we should be eating that I have read. Highly recommended.
Photos by Chris Kirigin and Michael Kirigin