The Slowcook at Spydog Farm The Slowcook at Spydog Farm

Kids Make Liberian Sweet Potato Puffs

December 12th, 2009 · 2 Comments · Posted in kids, Recipes

A nutritious little treat

A nutritious little treat

These little treats are full of sweet potato flavor and nutrition, sweet potatoes being one of the most healthful foods around, a great source of fiber, vitamins and beta carotene. They can be served as a savory, or just dust them with a little confectioner’s sugar to turn them into a quick dessert–or something to start your morning with a cup of coffee.

I found this utterly simple recipe in The Africa News Cookbook, a thoughtful survey of the continent’s many different cuisines. It lists the sweet potato puff–a soft, chewy biscuit, really–as coming from the West African nation of Liberia, a country with long connections to the United States. Liberia was founded in the early 19th Century as a place where freed slaves could emigrate from the U.S. back to Africa and enjoy greater freedom. Today it is a country of more than 3 million.

This is one of the ways we use cooking to teach the kids in our food appreciation classes about other subjects, such as history, geography and world cultures. Baking, perhaps the most scientific of kitchen skills,  is also a good place to drill kids on their math skills. There are lots of fractions involved in measuring these ingredients. Sometimes we break convenient measurements, such as one cup, into smaller units to demonstrate how fractions add or multiply. By now, the kids are also familiar with the chemical reaction that takes place when we add baking powder to the mix. “It makes things puff up!”

Two make about two dozen snack-size “puffs,” mix in a large bowl 2 cups flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg.

In a separate bowl, mash thoroughly two well-cooked sweet potatoes (about 2 cups), then stir in 2 beaten eggs. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until all of the dry ingredients are incorporated. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead the dough just two or three times until it holds together. Do not over-knead. Add more flour if it is too sticky, then roll the dough out to a thickness of about 1/2-inch or even a little thicker.

Use a cookie cutter to cut the dough into small rounds and fry these in oil until deeply golden, either in a heavy skillet or in a deep-fat fryer. You will not need to twist anyone’s arm to eat them.

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