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  RECIPE TITLE "Aunt Hattie's Scrumptious Sweet Tater Bread" Author: LaBelle Cuisine: Recipes to Sing About

yields8 servings time --difficultyeasy

Like so many of my special recipes, my Aunt Hattie Mae gave me this one. It has only been in recent years that I've gotten into baking and, so much of what I know about it I learned from Aunt Hattie and Aunt Josh.

Aunt Hattie and Aunt Josh are some cooking Sisters themselves. In Georgia, the ancestral home of my father's family, their culinary skill is legendary. For years, Aunt Hattie and Aunt Josh cooked in private homes for wealthy White families. More than a few folks stopped speaking to each other after one family visited another for dinner and an awestruck diner tried to hire Auntie Hattie or Aunt Josh away.

Aunt Josh even cooked President Eisenhower his first soul food meal. He'd spent the night with the family she was working for and, the next morning, Aunt Josh rose with the sun and cooked him a soul food banquet: hogshead bacon, sausage scrapple, grits and redeye gravy, sweet potato waffles, and, of course, Grandmother Tempie's flying biscuits. Aunt Josh says President Eisenhower mopped his plate clean. Can't you just see the look on the face of the White House chef when Ike got back to Washington and asked him to whip up some grits and gravy!!?

Aunt Josh and Aunt Hattie are both fabulous cooks, and as much as I relish their food, the stories they have told me over the years about our family are what I love most. When you put Aunt Hattie's Scrumptious Sweet Tater Bread in the oven, invite a very old or very young relative to join you in the kitchen. While it's baking, listen to or pass on your own family's very special legends and lore. You'll be glad you did.

  RECIPE INGREDIENTS

2 medium orange-fleshed sweet potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds)
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Grated zest of 1/2 lemon or 1/8 teaspoon lemon extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

  RECIPE METHOD

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pan, tapping out the excess flour.
  2. Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the sweet potatoes and cook until tender, about 25 minutes. Drain, and rinse under cold water until easy to handle. Peel the sweet potatoes, place in a medium bowl, and mash well. Measure 1 cup mashed sweet potatoes, saving the remaining sweet potatoes for another purpose. In a large bowl, using a handheld electric mixer on high speed, beat the butter and sugar until combined, about 1 minute. One at a time, beat in the eggs. Beat in the sweet potatoes, evaporated milk, vanilla, and lemon zest. In a medium bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, gradually beat the flour mixture into the sweet potato mixture, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Spread evenly in the prepared pan.

  3. Bake until the top springs back when lightly pressed and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour, 15 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack. Invert onto the wire rack, turn right side up, and cool completely.

  4. Best-Ever Banana Bread: Substitute 1 cup mashed ripe bananas for the mashed sweet potatoes. Reduce baking time to 1 hour.

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