Bahamian (Sweet) Potato Bread
Updated: Aug 7
First of all, let's cue KB's Sweet Potato Bread song right here. There is nothing better than this Bahamian delicacy and if you haven't learned from your grammy how to make it, finding this recipe can be a bit difficult. Luckily, my friend Tina Mims dropped a very Bahamian recipe in my inbox and I was too happy to try and adjust it to my liking.
A good potato bread is a labor of love. Someone painstakingly grated the potato for you to enjoy this sweet treat. I don't blame aunties and the occasional uncle for hating the grating process, after all. if you use the wrong technique you could be left with raw fingertips and knuckles. Me, however? I absolutely love the process.
There is a kind of peace in the rhythmic grating of a sweet potato. The sound itself is consistent and thoroughly peaceful. And the smell! Whenever I grate a native (Bahamian) sweet potato, I am automatically taken back to Grammy's house and I see her on the porch with a big pan of sweet potato and a grater.
I’m thinking Potato Bread is a pan-African delicacy. I have to do a bit more research into it, but the process of preparing it and baking it, the incorporation of pepper (bird, finger, goat or black pepper respectively) and the variation of grated coconut and coconut oil make it an indigenous treat that is either well loved or an acquired taste.
Good potato bread is firm; moist, but not wet and sweet, but not sugary. Personally, I love mine charred at the corners…there’s something about the caramelization and the slightly singed flavor that both my Daddy and I love. Call us weird, but that’s how we like it.
When my friend Tina dropped this recipe in a Bahamian food group on Facebook, I was excited! I trust her although, as she will say, she’s old people children. See screenshot of her sending me the recipe below.
I definitely had to tweak it a little bit, though. I wanted to make a small pan; just enough for 2 or 3 days of the delicious treat for my neighbors and I.
During the process of trial and error, being the Bahamian that I am, in my first batch, I tried using 1 cup coconut flour and 1 cup flour. I also substituted a mixture of half butter and half coconut oil. What I ended up with is more of sweet potato cake/bread hybrid.
I also learned that coconut adjusts the taste of your potato bread and directly affects how long it will last. Keep that in mind.
In my second attempt, I added 1 teaspoon of vanilla to my batter and it tasted more like sweet potato bread pudding. Personally, while it tastes really good, I’d leave the vanilla out for that real sweet potato bread taste.
I finally came up with something delicious, that tasted great. I ended up using cranberries because I didn’t have any raisins, leaving out the coconut altogether and my potato bread is so light in color because I used white sugar instead of brown sugar. No worries. I’ll fix that next time.
Here ya go! The recipe to sweet Bahamian Potato Bread.
Bahamian (Sweet) Potato Bread
3 cups of grated native sweet potatoes
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp allspice
½ tsp nutmeg
½ to ¾ cups brown sugar (white works as well)
2 eggs (beaten)
1 cup milk
½ cup to ¼ cup melted butter
1 cup grated/shredded dry coconut
¼ cup raisins
1 tsp black pepper
Spoon for mixing
Whisk the eggs and butter together, set aside
Combine the sweet potatoes, sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice, then mix together with your hand, working the spices and sugar through the sweet potatoes. You can add pepper here and adjust depending on how peppery you’d like your sweet potato bread to be. This is also where you would add your grated coconut and raisins if you want. Just remember, if you're using raisins and sweetened coconut, you may want to scale back on the sugar. I'm just saying.
Mix the flour thoroughly into the sweet potato mixture.
Next incorporate the egg and melted butter. Finally, add the milk in portions, that is, add a bit and mix then add some more. Your potato bread will be “dumb” if you put too much water in it, some people like it that way. I prefer mine solid but not wet, moist but not oily.
You'll know you have the perfect consistency when the batter moves like Jello. Not sure? There's a video on my IGTV channel that shows you the entire process.
Pour the batter into an 8x8 inch baking pan and then cover it with foil paper. I've learned that this steams the potato so it gets the right consistency.
Put the pan into the oven and bake at 350-375 degrees covered for 30-40 minutes. Uncover it and bake for an additional 10 - 15 minutes (depending on how moist or dry you want it). You can even put it on the boiler if you want a slight char on your potato bread.
And that's it. MY version of Bahamian Potato Bread. The more you experiment with the ingredients to suit your preferences, the more you'll enjoy this delicious treat.
Eat it with Bahamian Stewed Fish. It's the perfect accompaniment for your tea or (black) coffee, and is absolutely magical with a side of vanilla icecream for dinner. However you enjoy it, know that this nostalgic treat is one of the best recipes that The Bahamas has to offer.