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Chef David’s Sweet Potato Cornbread

In our recent post Welcome to Gullah Country! we interviewed Chef David Young, owner of Roastfish and Cornbread Restaurant in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. Graciously, he agreed to share his recipe for sweet potato cornbread, one of the restaurant’s signature dishes. Enjoy!

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Sweet Potato Corn bread
It took over a year to perfect this recipe. It is easier for me to make something just from feeling and tasting, rather than harnessing a flavor with words and writing them down, I had to test many different formulations and ingredients to find the perfect union of flavor and spice. After many taste tests, here it is. I wrote it just for you.

Dchefs’ Sweet Potato Corn bread™
I did not want to give you the same old corn bread, I was not satisfied with basic corn bread and I hated it because the flavor did not punch me in the taste buds. I wanted to make something that was unique so I took two traditional ingredients, corn meal and sweet potatoes and created a new taste sensation.

Makes two 12 x 13 x 2 square baking pans, servings depends on how the bread is cut.

Part 1: Infuse the sweet potato with simple syrup
This recipe starts with cooking the sweet potatoes in simple syrup. This is also the beginning process for making candied yams (sweet potatoes). The process of cooking the sweet potatoes in the simple syrup really intensifies the flavor of the sweet potato.
Step1: Boil the sweet potato and make sweet potato syrup.
1. Scrub and peel 6 medium sweet potatoes.
2. Cut potatoes into medium diced pieces. Place in a 4 quart sauce pan.
3. Add 3 cups of sugar and 1 cup of light brown sugar packed. Cover potatoes with water.
4. Boil until tender, 25 to 35 minutes. Test for doneness with a fork
5. Drain, and reserve the sweet potato simple syrup. Bring the simple syrup back to a boil. Boil until syrup thickens. Allow to cool. Reserve the syrup for other uses. This syrup is used as a glaze to top the sweet potato corn bread when comes out of the oven.
6. Hold the sweet potatoes in a large bowl or baking pan.
Note: Use in the sweet potato corn bread, bread pudding and other recipes in the book that call for boiled sweet potatoes.

Step 2: Sweet potato corn bread batter
Ingredients
2 cups fine corn meal
2 cups medium to coarse corn meal
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup white granulated sugar
½ pound light brown sugar
6 tablespoons baking powder
¼ cup ground ginger
1 to 2 tablespoon Jamaican Jerk seasoning
1 ½ tablespoons cinnamon
2 cups sour dressing (imitation sour cream) or sour cream
1 cup liquid margarine or melted butter flavored shortening|
4 oz cup vanilla extract
3 to 4 cups Water (use as needed) if the mixture is too dry use more water.
6 cups boiled sweet potatoes from step 1 above. (Do not pack in cup)

Method
1. In a large mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients, mix well to incorporate (disperse) all ingredients.
2. Make a well in the center of mixture.
3. Add vanilla, shortening, sour cream and 2 cups of sweet potatoes.
4. Mix with a rubber spatula from the center. Add 1 cup of water at a time. Mix well. The batter should be soft but not runny.
5. Fold in remaining sweet potatoes.
6. Moderately grease baking pans. Fill each pan about ¾ full.
7. Bake in a 350ºF oven for 60 to 90 minutes. Check for doneness by inserting a knife or toothpick. When inserted and comes out clean, corn bread is done.
8. Remove from oven and drizzle with sweet potato syrup. Cool for 30 minutes then serve.

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