Sweet Potato Muffins: Making Whole Grain Baking Sexy

Sweet Potato Whole Wheat Muffins 1

Whole wheat sweet potato muffins. Yes, they are sexy.

Whole grain baking isn’t sexy. In fact, when I think of whole grain baking, I think of Eugene, Oregon, where I grew up. Specifically, I think of aging hippies dancing around to drum music, doing yoga before it was cool, wearing patchouli oil, and making their own whole wheat bread.

But Good to the Grain, the new cookbook by Kim Boyce, makes whole grain baking sexy. Her recipes make me actually want tosseek out flours that I never thought I would want to buy. Kamut flour. Spelt flour. Teff flour. They sound so Eugene. So hippie. So unsexy. But Sand cookies? Five grain cream waffles? Soft rye pretzels? I want to go to there.

So far, I’ve tried one recipe from the book for whole wheat sweet potato muffins, but there are many more that I want to try. I’m especially intrigued with Boyce’s whole wheat chocolate chip cookies – the whole wheat flour gives the cookies a nutty taste, and she uses bittersweet chocolate to complement the whole wheat flour. Unlike a lot of cook books, these recipes look really new, and unlike anything I’ve encountered before.

These muffins use a one to one ratio of white flour to whole wheat flour, which keeps them from being too dense. The sweet potato keeps them incredibly moist – in fact, I think I should have baked these a bit longer, as the centers sunk down after I took them out of the oven. I liked how the earthy flavor of the whole wheat flour balanced against the sweetness of the sweet potatoes, although I think that they could have used a bit more depth of flavor. I only added a teaspoon of cinnamon, rather than the tablespoon the recipe calls for, since I didn’t want the cinnamon to overpower the other flavors in the muffins. Next time I might try to add maple syrup or molasses, to make them just a touch sweeter and round out the flavors. Also, since I shop at the crappy Safeway, I wasn’t able to get the Medjool dates called for in the original recipe. I substituted golden raisins instead.

In general, though, I loved these muffins – I loved how moist they were, and I loved how they take a nutty flavor from the whole wheat flour, but a lighter, fluffier texture from the white flour. The spices add interest, and bring out the flavor of the sweet potato. Toasted and spread with a little butter, they’d be a great, healthful, and, dare I say it – even sexy – addition to a breakfast spread.

Sweet potato whole grain muffins 2

Look at that fine piece of muffin.

Sweet Potato Muffins
Adapted from Good to the Grain, by Kim Boyce with Amy Scattergood
Makes 12 muffins

2 small sweet potatoes (should weigh 3/4 pound total)
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 cup boiling water
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup plain yogurt
2 oz (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cold
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 egg

Preheat oven to 400°F. Roast sweet potatoes on a parchment lined baking sheet for 1 to 1 and 1/2 hours, until soft when pierced with a fork. Remove from oven and let cool, then peel. Leave whole.

Lower oven to 350°F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.

Place raisins in a small bowl and cover with boiling water. Let sit while you make the rest of the batter.

Sift whole wheat flour, all purpose flour, baking powder, allspice, nutmeg, and cinnamon into a large bowl. Whisk back any pieces of grain that remained in the sifter, along with the kosher salt.

In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and yogurt.

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter, sugar, and brown sugar until fluffy – about three minutes, scraping down sides as needed. Add egg and half of the sweet potatoes and beat until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape down sides of the bowl. Add the flour mixture on low speed and mix until partly combined. Add buttermilk mixture and mix until combined.

Drain raisins. Scatter over the top of batter and mix until evenly distrubted. Add remaining sweet potatoes and mix until combined.

Scoop batter into muffin tins with an ice cream scoop or spoon – the batter should be slightly mounded above the edge.

Bake 35-40 minutes, until golden brown. Remove to a rack to cool. Serve warm – ideally right after they’re out of the oven.



  1. Kristen said

    I love Sweet Potatoes!! Nom nom nom! 🙂

  2. HelenaHimm said

    This looks perfect and will try to bake this month! If u have suggestions for a crumbled top please let me know.. =D


    • moderndomestic said

      Letsee, this is what I’m kind of making up based on this Emeril recipe:

      Crumble top:
      1 tbs whole wheat flour
      1 tbs white flour
      Pinch salt
      1 tbs butter, melted
      1/4 cup brown sugar

      In a small bowl, whisk together flours and salt. Then add the butter and brown sugar, mixing until combined. Sprinkle over muffin tops.

  3. Alice said

    I love mixing in whole wheat flour to things like muffins! Also pancakes. I never do 100% whole wheat flour as the results just aren’t tender enough for pastry, for my tastes, but anywhere from 1-3 to 1-1 ratios (wheat – white) produce awesome results. The ‘nutty’ description is spot on.

  4. Looks good! I wonder how it would taste with pumpkin in place of the sweet potatoes?

    • moderndomestic said

      That is an excellent idea. I’d be it would be great.

  5. Looks delish!

    I think butternut squash or pumpkin would be a great alternative to sweet potato. I love anything that can use one of those three ingredients, especially if it’s baked! 🙂

  6. I can’t wait to try these, I may just get the energy to try them today. I have made her whole wheat choc chip cookies 2 days in a row now (1/2 batch each time) and they came out so delicious, I’m pretty sure I’ve never made choc chip cookies quite that good. Really — I don’t see me making choc chippers w/regular flour again. I can’t wait to hear if you try those, they are a homerun.

    • moderndomestic said

      Oh sweet – I’ve really wanted to try those chocolate chip cookies with the whole wheat flour. Let me know how the muffins go!

  7. kim said

    hi jenna!
    thanks for baking from the book. it’s great to hear that the book is bringing whole grains back on your radar. next time you try the muffins, try to get the dates and add all the cinnamon – i know it seems like a ridiculous amount but the muffins really need it. the whole wheat flour masks the flavor of the spices, more so than regular white flour does.
    all best!

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