There are many ways to love a vegetable, and for some time one of my favorite ways to appreciate the sweet potato has been in the form of sweet potato muffins. A few weeks ago I wrote about the luscious flavor of a baked sweet potato garnished with butter and river salt, and to be sure that preparation provides a delight all its own. Yet there’s something about these muffins that’s not only irresistible, but versatile. This fluffy combination of shredded sweet potato, cheddar cheese, buttermilk and freshly minced sage graces the breakfast, lunch and dinner table equally well. I often make them as a dinnertime accompaniment to spinach fettuccine, then toast a muffin (or two) the next morning for breakfast. Sometimes I’ll make scrambled eggs to go with, depending on how effective my coffee has been up to that point.
Sweet potato muffins and I go way back. They were among the first things I baked – and ruined – when I met my now husband (then boyfriend) more than seven years ago. The first time I made them they were far too salty, but my husband smiled, ate them and praised my culinary prowess all the same. “These are amazing!” he’d exclaim, then nonchalantly ask, “Could I have a couple more glasses of iced tea?” I knew they had too much salt, but I couldn’t help being impressed by his determination to wash it all down with innumerable servings of tea. It was incredibly romantic – though not as romantic as the next time, when I made the muffins again, burned them to a crisp, and my husband called them toasty. Ah, young love.
Since then this recipe has gone through many transformations. The original recipe appeared in the Step by Step Vegetable Cookbook, which also happens to be the first cookbook I ever owned. My husband bought it for me early on in our relationship as a *hint* about expanding my culinary repertoire – but if you read the paragraph before this one, you already know how that turned out! It wasn’t the recipe, it was me. Really.
The recipe below, you’ll be happy to know, produces moist, fluffy muffins with green flecks of sage scattered throughout. It has been significantly modified, evolving over the years as my comfort in the kitchen increased. Nowadays it’s one of our most loved baked goodies and, best of all, my husband is free to enjoy them without downing exorbitant amounts of iced tea or thinking of creative ways to describe them. I dare say these muffins would make an excellent addition to the Thanksgiving table.
Sweet Potato Muffins with Fresh Sage
Inspired by the Step by Step Vegetable Cookbook
Ingredients: Make 6 large muffins or 12 small muffins.
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- 7 oz finely grated sweet potato (about 2 small sweet potatoes)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup grated double cheddar cheese (1/2 cup yellow cheddar + 1/2 cup white cheddar)
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 3/4 cup buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon fresh sage, minced
- Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Spray muffin tin with Pam butter spray, or lightly brush with melted butter or olive oil.
Peel and grate the sweet potatoes (I used a food processor for grating). Measure 7 ounces of sweet potato on a kitchen scale. Set aside.
In a large bowl, gently whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, minced sage and salt. Switch to a wooden spoon and add the sweet potato and cheese. Stir to combine, then make a well in the center.
In a small bowl combine the olive oil, egg and buttermilk with a whisk. Pour into the well and mix until just combined – the batter will be thick. Spoon batter into prepared muffin tins one tablespoon at a time, dividing the batter evenly among the muffin molds.
If using a jumbo tin, bake for 35 minutes, raising the temperature to 400 degrees F during the last 4 minutes. If using a regular sized muffin tin, bake for 25 minutes, raising the temperature to 400 degrees F during the last 4 minutes. Keep an eye on the muffins after you’ve raised the temperature to prevent over-browning. The muffins are done when light golden in color.
Allow to cool for at least 5 minutes before removing the muffins from the tin. If cooling for longer than 5 minutes, move muffins to a cooling rack to avoid soggy bottoms. Serve warm with butter.