Fall is a great time for baking and these Maple Sweet Potato Muffins are just the thing to start your day with. I came across the inspiration for this recipe years ago when I had leftover baked sweet potatoes. The original recipe called for all whole wheat flour and was sweetend with honey. I’ve lightened it up with half all-purpose flour and switched the honey for maple syrup.
Why Sweet Potatoes?
Pumpkin is everywhere in the fall and I certainly love pumpkin bread, pies, and muffins but sweet potatoes can be a nice change of pace. It can be used in place of pumpkin in almost any recipe but it will have a slightly different flavor. Especially when it’s roasted a sweet potato has a sweeter, milder, and denser flavor than pumpkin. If you aren’t familiar with baking with sweet potatoes, Maple Sweet Potato Muffins are a great place to start!
When I was growing up, my mom had a lovely friend named Fernetta. She often had Thanksgiving dinner with us and over the years she never seemed to age. Her specialty was her sweet potato pie and it was always the first to disappear when dessert was served. I’m from a family of pie bakers so that’s saying something!
There are a few things to keep in mind when you’re making muffins. They are a quick bread, meaning they use baking powder or baking soda to rise. When you are using either of these, you want to mix the batter or dough and get it in the oven fairly quickly. They begin working as soon as you combine them with a liquid so your bread or muffins won’t rise well it they sit for a long time before baking.
When you make muffins, it’s important to not overmix the batter. You aren’t aiming for a perfectly smooth batter and any small lumps of flour will disappear while they bake. Be sure you scrape the bottom of the bowl when you’re mixing though so there aren’t big pockets of flour.
Overmixing the batter will make the muffins tough and they will have a funny point on top instead of a nice dome. Obviously they are still edible and better than store-bought muffins but it’s best to not overmix your batter.
I’ll have some tips and tricks after the recipe.
Maple Sweet Potato Muffins
- 1 cup milk
- 1/4 cup oil (I use light olive oil)
- 1 medium roasted sweet potato, mashed
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 Tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon
- 1/2 cup currents or raisins (optional)
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
In a large glass measuring cup or medium size bowl, combine milk, oil, sweet potato, maple syrup, egg, and vanilla. Whisk to blend or use an immersion blender. If you don’t already have an immersion blender, please buy one immediately. I’ve worn two out and will never be without one. There are so many ways to use this tool in your kitchen, you won’t believe you ever lived without it!
In a large bowl stir together the whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, salt, and pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon. Pour in the liquid ingredients. Be sure to scrape the cup or bowl well with a silicone or rubber spatula. This is a small step but you’ll be surprised how much food you will miss if you aren’t scraping things out when you cook or bake. It’s an easy way to cut down on food waste.
Mixing the Batter and Add-ins
Since muffin batter needs to be mixed quickly, now is a great time to add the currents, raisins, or nuts if you’re using them. Currents can be a bit hard to find but I like to keep some on hand. They are smaller than raisins and have a lighter taste. I like to use them in baked goods when raisins would overwhelm the other flavors. So add them in and stir gently to combine.
Don’t forget to scrape the bottom of the bowl to incorporate all the flour. Have your muffin tin ready with paper liners or greased cups, whichever you prefer.
Scoop the batter into the prepared tin, filling each cup almost to the top. I use an ice cream scoop for this. I made 8 muffins with just currents and 4 with pecans from my parent’s farm (I’m pretty spoiled when it comes to pecans!) because some of my people like these without nuts. After scooping the 8 muffins I stirred in the pecans and finished filling the muffin tin.
You’re likely to end up with a bit of batter, not enough for another muffin but still a good amount of batter. Just divide that out between the muffins. Usually I sprinkle the muffins with demerara sugar or cinnamon sugar but that’s up to you. It looks pretty and gives them a crunchy top.
Baking the Maple Sweet Potato Muffins
Bake the muffins at 400 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes. Test with a toothpick to see if they are fully baked. Just poke a muffin with a toothpick and if it comes out with moist crumbs on it then they are done. I usually press gently on one or two and if they spring back then I take them out. Be careful of the sugar though, it will be very hot! Cool in the pan for about 5 minutes then move them to a wire rack to cool completely or until you can’t wait any longer.
Tips and Tricks
- Roast the sweet potato at 375 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour. It should be very soft and will probably have some burned sugar around it so bake it on parchment.
- Substitute canned pumpkin puree for the sweet potato.
- Substitute baked butternut squash for the sweet potato.
- Add other spices like cloves, nutmeg, ginger, or cardamom.
- Bake in a loaf pan for 1 hour instead of making muffins.
- Stir in mini chocolate chips instead of the dried fruit and nuts.
- Bake in a 9 by 13 pan for 35 to 40 minutes to make as a cake.
- Go savory by leaving out the spice and maple syrup and stirring in grated sharp cheddar and crumbled bacon. This would be amazing served with a soup!