When it comes to doughnuts, health isn't really a selling point. If I want healthy for breakfast, I'd rather grab some Greek yogurt or egg whites rather than some cardboard-like healthy imposter of a doughnut.
But these taste amazing, like fluffy, sweet, doughy orange clouds and just happen to be way healthier than your average doughnut. Sweet potatoes just happen to be full of beta carotene and other antioxidants. These just happen to be delicious with just a few tablespoons of butter in the batter, and just happen to be baked, not fried. They also just happen to be dunked in butter and rolled in cinnamon sugar. So we have nothing to worry about.
My dad's a total traditionalist and I was worried he wouldn't be too keen on a doughnut with a vegetable in it. I was pleasantly surprised, he loved them, and ate two right out of the oven before I could photograph them! The sweet potato flavor adds a subtle sweetness and a pretty orange color. This makes the perfect winter treat alongside a big mug of warm apple cider.
One 12-ounce sweet potato
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup whole milk
1 envelope instant dry yeast
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon dark rum
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
3 1/4 cups bread flour, plus more for rolling
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- Prick the sweet potato all over with a fork and cook it in a microwave at high power for 10 minutes, until tender. Let cool, then peel and puree the sweet potato; you should have about 1 cup.
- In a small skillet, cook the butter over moderate heat until nutty and lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Scrape the browned butter and solids into a small bowl and let cool.
- In the same skillet, heat the milk until just warm, about 105°. Pour the warm milk into the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the dough hook. Add the yeast and let stand for 5 minutes. Gently mix in the granulated sugar, light brown sugar, salt, vanilla seeds, nutmeg and rum. Add the sweet potato puree, browned butter and solids, egg and egg yolks and beat until combined. Add the 3 1/4 cups of bread flour and beat at medium speed until the dough is evenly moistened, about 2 minutes. Increase the speed to moderately high and beat until a soft dough forms, about 5 minutes. Gather the dough into a ball and transfer to a buttered bowl. Cover and let rise in a draft-free place for 1 hour.
- Punch down the dough and let stand for 5 minutes. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough 1/2 inch thick. Using a 2 3/4-inch round cutter, stamp out as many rounds as possible. Using a smaller round cutter (1 inch), stamp out the centers. Transfer the doughnuts and holes to 2 parchment paper–lined baking sheets. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let the doughnuts and holes rise in a warm place for 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 400° and position racks in the upper and lower thirds. Bake the holes for 10 minutes and the doughnuts for about 20 minutes, until risen and golden.
- In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon. Put half of the hot doughnuts in a large bowl and drizzle with some of the melted butter; toss and turn to coat. Sprinkle with some of the cinnamon sugar and toss and turn until evenly coated. Repeat with the remaining doughnuts, butter and cinnamon sugar. Transfer the doughnuts to a platter; serve.