NPR logo Sweet Potato Fluff

Sweet Potato Fluff

Courtesy of Lisa Comforty
Sweet potato fluff
Courtesy of Lisa Comforty

Submitted by Lisa Comforty of Evanston, Ill.

Orange glaze is just one reason this dish is beloved. My mother discovered sweet potato fluff in 1954 in our then-new Antoinette Pope School Cookbook. She was 23 and determined to cook her way out of her immigrant neighborhood, the West Side of Chicago. Sweet potato fluff was new and American — it was subversive! And it was, and is, delicious.

Antoinette Pope offers an elaborate method of making fluff involving the use of a No. 3 star cookie tube. Over 60 years, we have simplified it: The presentation is more haphazard than Ms. Pope would countenance, no doubt, but the taste is the same wonderful taste.

5 pounds sweet potatoes (yams, actually) cooked until tender, peeled, and mashed. (Just wash them, prick them with a fork a few times, and throw them in the oven on a cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. When they're soft, they're ready.)

The Sweet Potatoes

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons butter

Grated rind of one orange

While the sweet potatoes are still warm, add the brown sugar, butter, and orange peel. Arrange the mashed mixture in a buttered baking dish, making a well in the center to accommodate about 2 cups of "Special Orange Glaze." Make the glaze (see below), pour it slowly into the well in the sweet potatoes, and bake the casserole, covered with aluminum foil, about 30-40 minutes at 375 degrees.

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Orange Glaze

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 cup orange juice combined with 1 tablespoon cornstarch (put the cornstarch in a small bowl and add the orange juice slowly to make as smooth a mixture as possible.)

2 tablespoons butter

Grated rind of one orange

Heat the ingredients in a small saucepan, stirring all the while. The butter will melt, and the liquid mixture will soon thicken. When it is a beautiful caramel color and the consistency of a thin caramel sauce, remove from heat.