For the longest time, I had a hankering for some sweet potato pone — the kind my aunts used to make. According to Google, pone is an unleavened cornbread or flat cake. Apparently it’s well known in the southern United States, but Jamaicans are known to end a good meal with some sweet potato pone or cassava pone for dessert.
I searched online and in my cookbooks for a recipe, but couldn’t find one that was to my liking (and was vegan). So here’s my attempt at a Jamaican classic:
Note: When I first made this recipe, I mistakenly used the orange-fleshed sweet potatoes which is why the pone didn’t set as firmly as it could. The recipe still works if you use them; however, the authentic Jamaican recipe calls for the white-fleshed, purplish-skinned potatoes.
Juice from 2 small oranges or 1 large orange (or you can use a cup of store-bought orange juice)
3 medium sized sweet potatoes (peeled and grated)
¾ cup coconut sugar
¾ cup vegan butter (I used Earth Balance) or 1/3 vegan butter and 1/3 avocado
½ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 can coconut milk
¼ cup grated fresh ginger (you can use powered ginger, but it won’t be as authentic)
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 tsp Ener G egg replacement + 4 tbsp water (or 2 tbsp flaxmeal or ground chia seeds with 6 tbsp water)
½ tsp dried/dehydrated lemon peel (optional)
½ tsp dried/dehydrated orange peel (optional)
¼ tsp browning (optional)
2 cups cornmeal (make-sure it’s gluten-free if that is a concern for you) and 2 cups gluten-free flour
¾ cups raisins (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a cake pan with coconut oil.
- Cream sugar and butter in a small bowl. Add the vanilla.
- Mix Ener G egg replacement or flaxmeal or chia seeds and water in another small bowl.
- In a large bowl, add all of the dry ingredients (in no particular order) and stir to combine.
- Add the creamed sugar and egg replacement and grated potatoes and mix thoroughly. Add raisins if using.
- Pour mixture into prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour and a half, or until inserted knife comes out clean (i.e. pone tests done).
Note: I used coconut sugar in this recipe. Moisture is already a challenge when making pone, so you really don’t want to use a wet sweetener in this recipe.
It tasted EXACTLY like it should!! I’m so proud of myself!
You will notice that I didn’t use any salt. Whenever I use Earth Balance butter in a recipe, I have learnt (from experience) to omit the salt since the butter is salty enough. You will also want to wait for the pone to cool completely and maybe even cut it in the pan, or else you will end up with something like this:
The pone lacked the firmness that I wanted. Next time, I might add another cup or two of cornmeal (or flour). You can also reduce the sugar to like 1/2 cup and still have this taste good.
Update – Feb. 13, 2013
It firmed up! This is what it looked like after being in the fridge a few days:
Note: Be careful about the type of potatoes that you use for this pone. With the pone about, I used the orange fleshed sweet potatoes (often called “yams”). These potatoes tend to retain more moisture, which is why the pone turned out mushy before it cooled. To make the real pone, Jamaicans use the purple-skinned, white-fleshed potato pictured below:
Using the potatoes above (and not the orange sweet potatoes), here’s my second attempt: