By December 1st , I’m in full-blown holiday mode. Aside from holiday decorating, shopping lists and wondering how I’m going to get two camera-avoiding adolescents to pose for a family picture, I begin to narrow down the selections for my holiday baking and plan out my goodie baskets to be shared with neighbors, friends and teachers.
I’ve got my work cut out for me. So as you might imagine, I’m looking for ways to get the most out of my holiday baking without having to painstakingly hover around the oven shifting cookie sheets every 11 to 13 minutes. It kind of goes without saying that there will be some of that, because how can you not make cookies over the holidays? But my biggest asset and time saver will come by way of quick breads; they are sure to fill up a good portion of my goodie baskets.
And do I have a great recipe to share with you! But I need a favor from you first. Here’s what I need you to do:
- Please head over to the Facebook pages of Bob’s Red Mill and California Olive Ranch and “like” them.
- While you’re on the California Olive Ranch page, please scroll down until you see the post from Lemons and Lavender on their wall. (As the contest progresses, you may have to scroll through all of their daily updates to find mine. Sorry about that.)
- I would love it if you would click “like” where you see my post for Iced Sweet Potato and Orange-Spice Loaf. I might win some prizes if I get a lot of likes.
- Feel free to share this contest with your own Facebook friends, but asking them to like my recipe would be up to you.
- The contest closes at the end of the day on December 8th, so hurry over. Thank you!
Back in October, the wonderful people at Bob’s Red Mill and California Olive Ranch reached out to me about using their products in a Facebook recipe contest to show how we can “Bake A Better Holiday” by using whole grain or gluten-free flours and olive oil instead of butter. Even though I have been approached by other brands previously, I have turned them all down because I am really picky about the products I use. So when two companies who share my passion for knowing where your food comes from reach out to me, I am enthusiastically on board. And it has been a pleasure to work with them. I personally consider their products to be top-notch and they are easily found at most grocery stores. You can read more about each company and where to find their products by clicking here and here.
I am not unfamiliar with Bob’s Red Mill as I have been recipe testing with their flours in my kitchen since I made contact with them at the BlogHer Conference last May. Their variety and commitment to quality is something that brings me back to them over and over again. California Olive Ranch was new to me before this process, and they have won me over with their mild and buttery extra virgin olive oil. When I tasted the olive oil for the first time, I was assembling all of my ingredients for the first recipe testing. The aroma of freshly zested orange was in the air and I was immediately impressed with the mild and velvety flavor that seemed to pick up on the scent of citrus wafting around the room. When I tasted the olive oil another time, I was quickly reminded of that velvety, smooth flavor but this time I picked up on the characteristic hint of banana. What I’m getting at here is this olive oil will easily adapt to the sweet or savory flavors we find ourselves drawn to in baking, and it will not overpower them.
Bob’s Red Mill gave me full range of their product line to choose from and I selected their whole wheat pastry flour for this recipe. California Olive Ranch also gave me two of their products to choose from and their mild and buttery extra virgin olive oil from olives grown at Artois Ranch in California was a natural choice.
When I was deciding on a recipe, I knew I wanted to use sweet potatoes and orange zest to make a loaf cake (or quick bread, if you will) that was flavorful without being too greasy, too crumbly or too dry. After about four attempts, I had the recipe just where I wanted it. I focused on three crucial ingredients and methods for bringing them together to produce a loaf cake I would be happy with: choosing baked and mashed sweet potatoes over peeled and grated, raw sweet potatoes, choosing a 50/50 combination of BRM’s whole wheat pastry flour and unbleached all purpose flour over whole wheat pastry flour alone (whole grain flours tend to be more absorbent and my initial results were good but resulted in a loaf that was a bit too crumbly) and choosing to slowly stream the COR olive oil into the eggs in my mixer (in much the same way one would do when making vinaigrette-type salad dressings) over pouring the olive oil in all at once. Perhaps I didn’t need to be so picky about the process to incorporate the the olive oil, but I wanted to it to be fully combined with the eggs rather than have pockets of oil rising to the batter’s surface.
I have to say, this Sweet Potato and Orange-Spice Loaf has passed the test with some very discriminating taste testers namely me and my family and close friends. Believe me, they never fail to tell me if something isn’t good. And by the way this files off my kitchen counter, I’m convinced that it has universal appeal with children and adults. I know I’ve created something that has the indulgence of a holiday sweet loaf but with a healthier twist. Friends, I really think you’re going to love this one as much as I do. I can’t wait to include it in my holiday gift baskets, and I hope you do too.
Please don’t forget to head over to California Olive Ranch’s Facebook page and like my recipe!
Disclosure: I was neither compensated for nor asked to provide this review, but I was provided with complementary flour and olive oil to use for the purpose of this contest. My thoughts expressed herein are completely my own.
Anytime I can sneak delicious vegetables into a something my kids will eat, I will. I make sure to lightly mash the sweet potatoes so their flecks of vibrant orange can be seen once the loaf is sliced. This is a Lemons and Lavender original recipe.
- 1 cup Bob's Red Mill Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
- 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon ground mace
- 3 extra-large eggs (at room temperature)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2/3 cup California Olive Ranch Extra Virgin Olive Oil (grown at Artois Ranch)
- 1/2 cup golden brown sugar (do not use dark brown sugar)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup roasted and mashed sweet potato
- 2 tablespoons whole milk
- 2 teaspoons orange zest
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- 2 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
- 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
- 2 teaspoons half and half or whole milk
- 1/2 teaspoon orange zest
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease and flour standard size (8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2) loaf pan.
- In a medium-sized bowl, add flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and mace, and mix together with a whisk. Set aside.
- In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or with a hand-held mixer, add eggs and blend on medium speed until well mixed. Add vanilla. With mixer running on medium speed, slowly pour extra virgin olive oil in a steady stream into the bowl until fully incorporated with the eggs and vanilla.
- Add sugars, mashed sweet potato, orange zest, and milk and mix until combined.
- Add dry ingredients all at once and mix just until combined. Do not over mix.
- Add chopped pecans and fold into batter by hand.
- Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and place into preheated oven for 55 minutes to 1 hour. The loaf is done when a wooden skewer is inserted and removed with a few crumbs remaining.
- Cool loaf in pan for 10 minutes before removing to cooling rack. Loaf must be completely cooled before icing.
- For the icing, mix all ingredients together in a medium bowl with a wooden spoon and pour over loaf. Icing will be thicker with half and half than with whole milk. Allow icing to set for at least 30 minutes before slicing.