The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Braided Purple Sweet Potato 20% Whole Wheat Sourdough Milk Bread

Benito's picture

Braided Purple Sweet Potato 20% Whole Wheat Sourdough Milk Bread

I was going to add cinnamon to the purple sweet potato but realized that I wanted this bread for sandwiches so the cinnamon wouldn’t be a good idea.  However, if this bread was for toast, adding some cinnamon to the purple sweet potato would have been delicious.  To make this bread, you’ll need to prepare some mashed purple sweet potato.  I did this a while back, then portioned and froze the portions in ziplock bags.  Once defrosted I blend the mash with a combination of sugar and flour.  I have found that when there is a sweet filling in my breads that the sugar draws out water from the dough.  This ends up causing problems with separation between the filling and bread and also collapsing or a pinched waist in the baked bread.  To counter this, I have found that adding some flour to the filling helps absorb the water coming out of the dough, so far this has worked every time.

For one 9x4x4” Pullman pan loaf.


Purple Sweet Potato Filling

100 g mashed sweet potato

12 g granulated sugar

12 g flour

Mix together and set aside.


Egg/milk wash: 1 yolk and 1 tbsp milk, beaten




Mix the levain ingredients in a jar or pyrex container with space for at least 300% growth. 

Press down with your knuckles or silicone spatula to create a uniform surface and to push out air.

At a temperature of 76-78ºF, it typically takes up to 10-12 hours for this sweet stiff levain to be at peak.  For my starter I typically see 3-3.5 times increase in size at peak.  The levain will smell sweet with only a mild tang.


In a sauce pan set on medium heat, stir the milk and whole wheat flour until blended. Then cook for several minutes until well thickened, stirring regularly with a spoon or heat-resistant spatula. Let cool in the pan or, for faster results, in a new bowl.  Theoretically it should reach 65ºC (149ºF) but I don’t find I need to measure the temperature as the tangzhong gelatinizes at this temperature.  You can prepare this the night before and refrigerate it, ensure that it is covered to prevent it from drying out.


If you plan on using a stand mixer to mix this dough, set up a Bain Marie and use your stand mixer’s bowl to prepare the tangzhong.



In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the milk (consider holding back 10 g of milk and adding later if this is the first time you’re making this), egg, tangzhong, salt, sugar and levain.  Mix and then break up the levain into many smaller pieces.  Next add the flours.  I like to use my spatula to mix until there aren’t many dry areas.  Allow the flour to hydrate (fermentolyse) for 20-30 minutes.  Mix on low speed and then medium speed until moderate gluten development this may take 5-10 mins.  You may want to scrape the sides of the bowl during the first 5 minutes of mixing.  Next add room temperature butter one pat at a time.  The dough may come apart, be patient, continue to mix until it comes together before adding in more butter.  You will want to check gluten development by windowpane during this time and stop mixing when you get a good windowpane.  You should be able to pull a good windowpane.


On the counter, shape the dough into a tight ball, cover in the bowl and ferment for 2 - 4 hours at 82ºF.  There should be some rise visible at this stage, I typically shape once there is 20-40% rise.


Butter a large baking pan.  Punch the dough down and then divide into 2 equal portions.  Form each into tight boules.  Stretch and then roll each piece of dough into a large rectangle, approximately equal sizes.  Spread the prepared purple sweet potato filling evenly over one of of the rectangles of dough leaving about 1cm at the edge of dough without mashed potato.  Place the other rectangle of dough onto the other sandwiching the sweet potato between them.  Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out a bit more aiming for more than 12” in length and just under 9” in width.  


Using a ruler and pizza cutter, cut the dough into evenly wide strips about 1.5-2 cm wide along the length of the dough but leaving about 2-4 cm of dough uncut at the end furthest away from you.  When all the strips are cut, twist the strips in alternating directions, clockwise and then counter clockwise.  Once all the strips are twisted, roll the whole thing into a log starting furthest away from you getting a nice tight roll at the start.  Transfer the dough into your prepared pullman pan with the seam side down.


Place in the buttered baking pan seem side down.  Cover them and allow them to fully proof until the top of the dough reaches within 1 cm of the rim of the pan.


When there is about 30 mins left of proofing time, prepare your egg and milk wash and then brush the top of the loaf.


About 30 mins prior to end of final proof preheat the oven to 350°F. 

Immediately prior to baking brush the dough again with the egg and milk mixture.


Bake the bread for 50 minutes or until the internal temperature is at least 190F. Cover if your loaf gets brown early in the baking process.


Remove the bread from the pan and return to the oven baking directly on the rack if the sides of the loaf aren’t yet crisp baking for another 5-10 mins.  Cool on a rack, enjoy.

My index of bakes.


Benito's picture

Very tasty bread with just a mild sweetness, very pleased with this bake avoiding any issues from the filling.

Isand66's picture

What a work of art!  I’ve never used sweet potato as a filling only incorporated into the dough.  How does the potato taste as a filling?

Benito's picture

Thank you very much Ian, I appreciate your comments.  If you like the flavour of purple sweet potato, which I do, you’ll like it as a filling.  I made one of these loaves for Alfanso back in the winter, but with regular orange sweet potato.  That loaf I included cinnamon for a sweeter profile that is also great.  This was more successful using more flour in the filling to avoid that pinched waist that can happen from the sugars drawing out the water from the dough.


jo_en's picture

That idea  is amazing! The colors really pop.

You almost want to wear the braids :)


Benito's picture

Thank you jo_en, it is fun to make, I especially like how the dough looks after shaping.


Construktion's picture

I've been following your blog for a couple of years benito and, since I've been living in China for 25 years, I look out for your Asian inspired recipes. I've tried several; with miso, matcha, purple sweet potato, sesame, nori etc. and particularly like the Matcha, Cocoa Hokkaido milk loaf, as do my wife and daughter. I made three loaves last time from one full batch each of matcha, cocoa and plain, just adding the matcha and cocoa powders to the flour. Vegetable and fruit powders are quite common in China and are used in various recipes; for jiaozi wrappers, sweet glutinous rice balls, pasta, baozi, mantou and pastries. There are purple sweet potato, spinach, pumpkin, beetroot, strawberry, mango, dragon fruit and probably more. I was thinking of trying this good looking bread with a paste made from a purple sweet potato powder like below. The fresh sweet potatoes are in the markets now but I was wondering if you have any experience with these powders?

Benito's picture

I’m honored that you have been following my blog and have made some of my breads, thank you.  I haven’t yet tried purple sweet potato powder.  I’ve heard other bakers talk about this powder, but since there are stores that seem to have the potatoes in stock most of the time I just buy a bunch and prepare them all.  I portion them out into small ziplock bags and then freeze them so I can use them quickly whenever I want.