I stayed with my sister Amelia on my first night in Brighton. Tash arrived with icy cheeks for us to kiss and we two sat with Shaun whilst Amelia busied herself with supper. As time passed the most incredible bready, cakey, fruity smell wafted through from the kitchen. Tasha's birthday had only just passed, so we wondered if Amelia might be baking up some sweet treat for later. Soon, the wait was over and we sat down to hake with fresh thyme, bowls full of watercress and local rocket and roasted root vegetables.
Those roots were delicious, parsnips, carrots and sweet potatoes, cut into chips and roasted until the sugars were caramelising on the cut edges. Amelia explained that there was no desert - we had been fooled by the vegetables. 'But these are amazing!', piped Shaun, who had been quietly munching while we chatted, 'it's like having sweets for supper'. Everyone else politely declined to eat the last sweet potato piece, so I gobbled it up before they changed their minds, enjoying the contrast of smooth fruity orange centre and crisp, chewy caramelised skin.
After supper, even though we had already had 'sweets', I broke out the Valrhona 70% and some Rococo Cardamom chocolate and thanked the universe for taste buds. When I got home, I knew I was going to have to bake some sweet potato into a bread or cake, and here's what I came up with.
Carrot and Sweet Potato Muffins (makes 8)
As you know, I love a muffin. When I am mulling over tastes and experimenting with flours, I like to trial them in muffin form before I move onto anything more adventurous, or arduous. I tried making some sweet potato muffins with cooked potato and found them just a touch dense. This second effort with grated carrots and lemon zest, hit that carrot cake, baked root button square on. I think they could easily count as one of your vegetable portions - if you think about life like that. Me - I'm just glad to find another way I can eat those orange darlings, go ahead and munch on a raw carrot while you're making them why don't you? I know this looks like a long long list of ingredients, but you should have most of them or substitutes for them in your cupboard - and the mixing is the work of minutes. So get your pinny on, dig out the roots and potter, in under an hour you could be peeling the paper off a moist cinnamon scented muffin....
3 1/2 floz vegetable oil 3 medium eggs 3tbs date syrup (or 1 tbs molasses and 2 tbs honey) 1 tbs honey zest and juice of half a lemon 4oz carrots (scrubbed or peeled weight) grated 4oz Sweet potato (peeled weight) peeled and grated 2oz green raisins (or black raisins) 2oz sorghum flour (or millet or white teff) 2oz ground almonds (or other ground nut) 2oz sweet potato flour (or tapioca starch or arrowroot) 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon Grating of fresh nutmeg 1 tsp cream of tartar 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda 1 tsp xantham gum
Preheat the oven to 170C (fan assisted) 180C if not. Fill a muffin tray with 8 paper cases.
Grate the carrots and sweet potato.
Sift the dry ingredients into a largish bowl and set aside.
Mix together the oil, eggs, honey, date syrup, lemon zest and juice until thick and smooth, and mix them into the dry ingredients with the grated vegetables and green raisins. Just mix enough to get everything amalgamated.
Spoon the mixture evenly into the cases and bake for approximately 25 minutes until springy and golden brown on top. Cool on a wire rack while you wander through the house inhaling the delicious scent of cinnamon, baking roots and homeliness