Autumn’s humble sweet potato gets a stunning makeover as the star ingredient of Carissa Breads‘ sweet potato loaf. Amagansett baker Carissa Waechter welcomes the crisp mornings of fall with a rich, substantial loaf infused with creamy caramelized flavor.
New this season, the loaf begins with a dough similar to brioche, enriched with sweet potatoes and the starchy water in which they are cooked. Waechter uses a portion of local sweet potatoes from Balsam Farms in Amagansett. The bread masterfully seduces all the senses. Paper-thin slices of sweet potato – resembling delicate petals – are baked into the crown, creating an elegant floral centerpiece that sits atop the glossy, copper-colored crust.
The loaf is so fetching, one might hesitate to make the first slice, but keep calm and carry on. The golden orange inner crumb is delectably delicate, perfumed with a sweet, earthly radiance. A slice of Carissa’s sweet potato loaf would pair perfectly with a hot cup of herbal tea, or complement the robust flavors of a harvest meal.
Waechter is excited about the transformative power of sweet potatoes in the recipe. “As much as I love the sweet and earthy taste of the potatoes, I am more excited about the texture the ingredients lend to the bread and the other properties that allow the bread to achieve a beautiful rise and nice color when baked,” she says.
Waechter bakes by the seasons. A former New York City pastry chef, she became smitten with the abundance of the East End and left Manhattan for Amagansett. “I was ready for a change, so I pulled the plug and started my own business using local products,” says Waechter. “Even the local eggs were so different in all the recipes. It was just so much better tasting to me.”
Waechter pioneered a line of locally crafted artisan breads that use grains grown at farms on the East End, first partnering with Amber Waves Farm in Amagansett. With pie season upon us, Waechtner offers a menu of pastries using locally grown fruits. Carissa’s Breads and pies are available through farm stands, farmers markets and CSAs throughout the East End.