Sunday, July 13, 2008

Sweet Potato Doughnuts with Roast Apple Filling

Adapted from Pichet Ong's "The Sweet Spot: Asian-inspired desserts"

There is so much confusion over the term "sweet potato" and "yam" that I had a little trepidation before deciding to try and make Pichet Ong's "Sweet Potato Doughnuts with Roast Apple Filling". When I was a cashier, and needed to be able to recognize produce, I was told that sweet potatoes were white on the inside, whereas yams were orange on the inside. Other than that, I deduced that sweet potatoes must have less moisture than yams, based solely on what happens when you try and roast them - yams start oozing moisture, but sweet potatoes don't.

The problem is that, not everyone agrees on this distinction between yams and sweet potatoes. When I moved to Toronto, I didn't seem to be able to find the white sweet potatoes everywhere, and the orange kind was usually marked as "sweet potato." Further research on Wikipedia informed me that both of the vegetables I was considering are "sweet potatoes", and that true yams are not readily available in North America.

I didn't really care that much - I just wanted to make/eat some baked goods. So I bought some orange "sweet potatoes", as these were the only ones available to me, and began making the dough.

At first things were going well - the yeast was foaming, I had all the ingredients...the problem came with the yams. Or sweet potatoes. Whatever they are. I strongly suspect that I was supposed to use the dryer white "sweet potatoes," because the dough was ridiculously wet! Like pancake batter! Although Ong mentions that the dough is soft and wet, I have no idea how on earth I was supposed to shape a dough that wet. Either the amount of sweet potato Ong refers to in the recipe (343g) is supposed to correspond to the post-steamed sweet potato, as opposed to the pre-steamed sweet potato, or I did something else very wrong (but I was careful this time! I used a kitchen scale!), I have no idea how I was supposed to form such a wet dough into balls. So I added about an extra cup of flour, and stuck it in the fridge for two days. The original recipe just asks for a 1 hr rise, but since I am a bad planner, I realized I didn't have enough time to finish the recipe.

Two days later, I took the dough out of the fridge to let it unchill (it was still very, very wet - my hopes that it would dry out a little, like the infamous no-knead dough, were squashed), and got to work on the apple filling, which was quite straightforward.

I spooned 2-3 tbsp of dough into tartelette tins, and then tried to "pinch the top seam" of each doughnut, although it was rather more like gathering dough together and letting it stick to itself. In the end, however, I did manage to surround the apple with dough. Trying to get these guys into the oven was fun - the tartelette tins all slid around on the cookie sheet, so that the separate doughnuts were stuck together at their edges. Trying to separate them was an exercise in futility, so I ended up just sticking them in the oven,stuck together and all.

I was supposed to bake them for about 20 mins, until "puffed and golden brown", but considering that the dough started off ORANGE (another clue that I should have used the non-orange variety?), I was not quite sure the "golden brown" part. I baked them for 25 minutes.


The extra flour made the doughnuts more chewy than I think they were supposed to be. Perhaps if I had a stand mixer, instead of doing this by hand, the texture would have turned out differently. Or perhaps if I used less sweet potato - I used 343 g, as per the directions, but this wasn't "1 medium sweet potato" as Ong suggests, but more like three sweet potatoes.

Would I make them again?

Not the same way - I would definitely try the dryer variety of sweet potato, and hopefully wouldn't need to add the extra flour. But actually, I like Uncle Jack's apple tarts much more than these, in general, so perhaps if I was taking the effort to make filled-pastries, I would just make those instead.

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