Saturday, December 8, 2012

Technique Tips: Baked Sweet Potato Fries


I don't know about you, but I loves me some sweet potato fries.

Making them's a whole other thing, though. I'm writing about baked sweet potato fries, in particular, since I don't like to deep-fry much; too much hassle and wasted oil for me. But with baking it is very difficult to get a nice crisp texture like restaurants do with deep-frying. Recipes abound on the Internet, so do a search and take a look at people's various approaches. I had varying levels of success...or results anyway, with recipes I tried.

After a number of varying attempts over the past year-and-a-half (very occasional), I'm concluding that you can't get the same result through baking as deep-frying, but that you can get a decent result, at least.

So without further ado, my observations, followed by a photo-roll of phfails (with notes):

1. DON'T CROWD the baking pan
This is very important. If you try to fit too many sweet potato fries together, they end up steaming in moist air instead of baking in dry air, resulting in mushy fries. And not just "in one layer", but give your fries breathing room. On a related note--

2. Try baking on wire racks
This allows air to circulate underneath the fries, which helps avoid steaming your fries in their self-released moisture.

3. Cutting thicker fries helps
The problem with baking thinner cut sweet potato fries (like with their deep-fried counterparts) is that their tips burn more easily--before they're done. The other benefit of thicker fries is that it's easier flipping and spacing the fries in the middle of baking. Still annoying going individually, though. You could mass flip thinner fries with a spatula if you don't use wire racks and don't care about making sure they've all been flipped to the opposite side.

4. Corn starch?
A viewer suggested on this page that dusting your sweet potato fries with corn starch helps make them more crispy. I haven't tried it, but supposedly it works. You might want to give that a shot. When next I make a batch, I'll try it out if I remember.

Fails:


Above, way too crowded, leading to mushy fries, below:




Didn't crowd but thin cut fries mean quick burning.



Tried with parchment paper as this page suggests, but don't think it made much of a difference. Maybe it's marginally less prone to steaming compared to aluminum foil? Not bad, but their thinness meant they weren't able to crisp enough along their surfaces before burning started.



These are cut 1/4"-3/8" thick--too thin in my opinion. The ones pictured at the top of this post are more like 1/2"-5/8" thick.

What's My Recipe? Much the same as others:
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
  2. Cut sweet potatoes into fries, 1/2"-5/8" thick, leaving skin on if desired.
  3. Toss in oil and salt (and other seasonings as desired) to taste and spread on wire racks placed in baking pan.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes on one side, flip fries and bake for about another 15 minutes on the other side, until golden brown.
  5. I like mixing Sriracha and mayonnaise for my dipping sauce.
Good luck!

2 comments:

  1. Hey! We tried these last night and they were awesome! Thanks for the tip and again - nice meeting you Saturday!

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    Replies
    1. Oh excellent, I'm glad they turned out well. Great to meet you two, too!

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