I wanted to talk a little about the reality of baking with whole foods as ingredients and today’s recipe provides a great opportunity.
When you bake with processed flours, you are essentially getting the exact same product every single time. Food producers employ quality control measures to ensure that buying a pound of flour on a winter Monday in Ann Arbor is not vastly different from buying a pound of flour on a summer Thursday in Scottsdale.
Although baking outcomes can be affected by things like altitude and oven temperature, when you use only processed ingredients, you can be pretty certain that if you follow the recipe properly, you will get the expected result.
That’s not totally the case when you choose to bake with whole food ingredients. I can list a banana or a plantain or a sweet potato as an ingredient, and the item you pluck from your market shelves may be vastly different from the one I plucked.
You will note that most recipes using plantains as a base will specify either ripe plantains, as in my favorite brownies from Preparing It Paleo or green like in these plantain pancakes from The Paleo Mom. But, even with those specifications, if the sugar content of your fruit differs a great deal from the one the blogger used, you may end up with a different outcome than she did.
This really hit home for me while I was developing today’s Sweet Potato Plantain Waffles. Before I went grain free, I made a spelt-based sweet potato waffle regularly. I loved the flavor and have been dying to recreate that experience in a grain free waffle. Armed with my experience from my Molasses Cake adventures, I decided to give it a shot last week.
But waffle irons tend to be rather unforgiving, and the first batch, while spot-on for flavor, was limp and wimpy. I had used very ripe plantains, so for the second batch, I used less ripe but not fully green ones. I also added some shredded coconut to give the waffles some heft and texture. The kids declared them “awesome,” “80 thumbs up,” and asked me to make them the next night. I was pleased with the flavor and happier with the texture, but still wasn’t ready to publish.
So yesterday morning, I gave it another go. My plantains were as green as I could find at the store. The waffles held up well in my waffle iron (conventional – I haven’t tried Belgian) and the flavor remained fantastic. I am thrilled to share them with you and hope that they satisfy an itch you’ve wanted to scratch, too.
I’ll talk more about baking with whole foods in the months to come. I’m still learning and experimenting, and would love for you to come along for the ride.
- 2 large green plantains
- 1/2 cup baked*, mashed sweet potato
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1 tsp baking soda
- pinch of salt
- 1 TBSP arrowroot powder
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
- coconut or other oil to grease waffle iron
- Warm waffle iron as per manufacturer’s instructions.
- In a food processor, puree plantains, scraping sides to ensure uniform texture.
- Add sweet potato to arrowroot. Puree thoroughly.
- When mixture is uniform in color and texture, add eggs and pulse to mix.
- Add coconut and pulse a few times to distribute.
- Grease waffle iron and cook waffles as per manufacturer’s instructions.
I served mine with a peach sauce. I melted a tablespoon of fat in a cast iron skillet. I then took a bag of frozen peaches and added them to the skillet. I covered the pan for a few minutes to generate some moisture, then I added a little vanilla and cinnamon. I covered again and let them steam until they got softer, then I took my kitchen shears and cut them into bite-sized pieces. I covered again and let them cook until they were soft.
Let me know what fun things you do with them!
* I wouldn’t suggest steaming or boiling the sweet potato, as that would affect water content and invariably change the outcome of the recipe.