Living in the most multi-cultural city in the world certainly has some advantages. Most obviously, we are blessed with the myriad perspectives of different people from all corners of the globe who come together in Toronto to work, live and play. Strolling along Bloor and Yonge, you can take in a panoply of clothing, gliding past like an Ethnic Pride Parade: batik peasant blouses, corduroy slim jeans, soft knit pashminas, plaid flannel shirts, embroidered cotton skirts and well-worn cowboy boots all make an appearance.Your ears are tickled by the latter-day Babel of tongues from all countries. And, more than anything else, you’re treated to a variety of foods from cuisines near and far.
When I first moved to Toronto to attend university, my friend Sterlin was a resident in medical school. The student apartment building in which she lived was on a street that abutted a row of restaurants and shops representing several countries: an East Asian grocery, a Mexican restaurant, a Japanese café, a Chinese bakery. On my way between Sterlin’s place and my classes, I’d pop into the bakery and always leave with a little paper bag full of buns.
Intially, of course, I had no idea what was in any of the mysterious baked goods that graced the shelves, hiding on their parchment squares behind glass cases. There were massive biscuit-like cookies with multi-layered pastry that cracked in a spray of flaked when you bit into them; smaller, shortbread-like biscuits filled with thick, tarry red bean paste; coconut-crusted lemon tarts, their fillings impossibly neon and jiggly; laquered egg buns with a tangle of caramelized onions on top; and my favorite, the puffed, domed, impossibly white steamed buns, their centers containing everything from lotus bean paste to shrimp to mixed vegetables.
Partway between bread and pastry, the steamed buns were tender and slightly chewy inside with only a hint of sweetness and a thin, elastic skin that formed as they steamed, like the skin you find on old-fashioned cooked puddings. I loved to peel it off first, then tear into the cakelike bun underneath (especially when the center housed the soft, gooey lotus seed paste).
When I first attempted these sweet potato buns, they were meant to be breakfast scones. Somehow, the proprotion of sweet potato to flours was higher than I imagined, and the result was a more cakelike baked good. Not quite a roll and not quite a scone, yet still exquisitely appealing, they reminded me of my Chinese steamed buns of yore. You will find these breads to be moist, tender, and somehow. . . puffed. They’re great with a slathering of coconut butter or (my latest obsession) homemade chocolate cashini butter. And if I could manage to encase a lotus seed center inside one of these buns, it would be the quintessential Torontonian treat–one that spans cultures from East to West.
And speaking of East to West. . . that’s where I’m headed, tomorrow!! I’m flying to the stunning city of Monterey, California to attend the Dole Salad Summit, a blogging event hosted by Dole. They’re flying 20 of us to the event, for three days of fun, sun, and salad-tastings! We’ll also visit various sites in the Cannery Row area, the Dole growing fields and processing plant, and 17-Mile Drive. How dreamy does that sound?! Im hoping to blog from the event if possible, so come back in a day or two to see what we’re all up to! Gonna get me some Salad’tude courtesy of the great folks at Dole!
[Full disclosure: Dole is covering the cost of travel, hotel, and food while I’m on the trip.]
Sweet Potato Buns
Suitable for the Anti Candida Diet, Stage 3 and beyond
A light and tender roll that’s perfect for breakfast or afternoon snacks. These are sweet enough to eat on their own, but work well with the usual toppings as well.
1/2 cup (120 ml) sweet potato purée
1/4 cup (60 ml) unsweetened applesauce
2 Tbsp (30 ml) coconut sugar
1/3 cup (80 ml) unsweetened plain or vanilla almond, soy or rice milk
1/4 tsp (1 ml) apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) vanilla
10 drops plain or vanilla liquid stevia
2 Tbsp (30 ml) macadamia oil or other light-tasting oil
1-1/4 cups (165 g) Ricki’s All-Purpose Gluten Free Flour
1-1/2 tsp (7.5 ml) baking powder
1-1/2 Tbsp (22.5 ml) psyllium husks
1/8 tsp (.5 ml) salt
1/8 tsp (.5 ml) nutmeg
Preheat oven to 375F (190C). Line a cookie sheet with parchment or spray with nonstick spray.
In a medium bowl, whisk the sweet potato, applesauce, coconut sugar, almond milk, apple cider vinegar, vanilla, stevia and oil until smooth. Set aside.
In a small bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Whisk in the psyllium husks until everything is evenly distributed.
Pour the wet mixture over the dry and stir just to blend. It should be a soft dough, but still able to hold a shape. Using a large ice cream scoop or 1/3 cup (80 ml) measuring cup, scoop the dough onto the cookie sheet and flatten slightly.
Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, rotating the sheet once about halfway through, until bottoms are well browned and tops are dry. These will be very moist when warm, and more bread-like once cooled. Makes 5-7 large buns. May be frozen.
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Other buns and scones on DDD:
- Carob and Raisin Biscuits (not gluten free; ACD maintenance only)
- Egg-Free, Grain-Free Buckwheat and Bean Biscuits (gluten free; ACD Stage 3 and beyond)
- Oatmeal Poppyseed Scones (gluten free; ACD Stage 3 and beyond)
- Peanut Butter Biscuits (not gluten free; ACD maintenance only)