Monday, April 18, 2016

Sweet Potato Harissa Sourdough Bread

The one thing I knew when I was making the harissa for my spice group's potluck was that I wanted to make bread, but I wasn't sure how I wanted to do that.   I thought about just adding a couple of tablespoons of it to the dough as I was mixing it, but it is such a vibrantly colorful sauce that I did not want to dilute its visual appeal so I decided the better way to go was to roll it into a rectangle and spread a layer over the top, then roll it up into a log and shape that into the loaf.  The process is similar to making cinnamon rolls, but instead of cutting the rolled up log into pieces, you fold and layer it into a loaf pan.

The next thing I had to decide was what kind of bread I wanted to make.  I wanted something that had a little extra flavor, but not so much that it would compete with the harissa.  I had made a sweet-potato sourdough yeasted bread with cinnamon and mace for our mace potluck, and I kept going back to that.  Sweet potato and harissa go well together so I knew was on the right track with that.  And while cinnamon and harissa and sweet potato seem like a no-brainer, I was afraid that might give the bread a sweeter profile than I wanted, so I decided to repeat the themes of the harissa and added cumin and coriander.

I made the bread the same day I made the harissa so I had quite a bit of the liquid from the soaked chilies, and in one of those brainstormingly brilliant moments that we can usually only hope for I decided to use the soaking liquid instead of water to add a little more heat to the dough.

I was under a time crunch when I made it and the dough resisted being rolled out to the proper thickness.  If I had had more time I would have let it rest longer and that would have solved the problem, but I did not so I had to wrestle it into shape; therefore the harissa did not spread over as wide of a surface as I would have liked and it did not roll up as tightly as I would have liked either.  The end result was not as spectacular as I would have liked because of that, but the flavor was spot on and it disappeared quickly.

This recipe requires a little work, but the end result is well worth it.
Home Cookin Chapter: My Recipes

Note:  I adapted this recipe for use with starter.  If you want to use yeast, you can use these ingredients in place of the first 3 ingredients:
2 packages dry yeast
1-1/2 cups warm water
5 to 6 (600g to 720g) bread flour

160 g (app 3/4 cup) sourdough starter
265 g (app 1-1/8 cups) water (from soaked dried chilies if you have it)
520 - 640g (app 4-1/3 to 5-1/3 cups) flour
1 Tbsp salt
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp coriander
2 Tbsp softened butter
1 cup cooked sweet potato puree*
2 Tbsp harissa, or to taste
1 egg
2 Tbsp milk or water

*To make the sweet potato puree: Peel a large sweet potato and cut it into 1-inch pieces. Steam until tender, 15 to 20 minutes, then smash with a potato masher or puree in a food processor.

Add the water to the starter and mix well. Combine the salt, cumin and coriander with 240g of the flour and whisk together until well mixed, then add to the starter mixture and stir it together. Add the sweet potato puree, stirring well, and then add the rest of the flour, about a half cup at a time, until a loose dough forms.

Turn the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead in the butter a half tablespoon at a time, adding more flour as necessary to form a smooth elastic dough. Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a greased bowl, turning to make sure the entire ball of dough has been greased. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and then cover the bowl with a towel. Let rise until doubled in size, about one and a half hours. Punch down the dough and let it rise for another 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425° F and grease two loaf pans. Divide the dough in half and roll each half into a rectangle about a half-inch thick. Spread the harissa as thinly as possible onto the surface, leaving about a quarter inch around the edges. Roll tightly lengthwise and then coil into the greased pans. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.

Mix the egg with 1 tablespoon of milk or water and brush over the surface of the loaves.  Place the pans in the oven and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the loaves sounds hollow when the sides are tapped. Remove the loaves from the oven and turn them out of the pan. Let cool for an hour before serving.

Adapted from a recipe found at, which was reprinted with permission from I Hear America Cooking by Betty Fussell (Viking Penguin 1997).

Exported from Home Cookin v.8.66 (


Eve said...

Thanks! :)

dejamo said...

My pleasure. :)

Harissa is my new crack. I cannot get enough of it.

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