A slice of banana bread sits on a white plate on a blue table

A Sweet-and-Savory Quick Bread to Match the Season

Chef-instructor Penny Stankiewicz draws inspiration from winter produce to give banana bread a new twist

The Institute of Culinary Education has teamed up with GrowNYC for a monthly series highlighting a seasonal ingredient at the farmers’ market.

Since winter's peak produce includes root vegetables and storage crops, this month, we’re focusing on the humble sweet potato. 

After a visit to the Union Square Greenmarket, Pastry & Baking Arts and Art of Cake Decorating Chef-Instructor Penny Stankiewicz created a recipe highlighting the classically savory root vegetable, with a sweet twist: Chef Penny used sweet potatoes to give her banana bread a new, earthy flavor profile.

“Sweet potatoes are a great palate for warming spices, maple syrup and ginger, and they have a little sweetness on their own,” Chef Penny says. 
Her recipe for Bourbon Sweet Potato Quick Bread incorporates a nutty cinnamon swirl and is topped with a bourbon glaze.

It can easily be adjusted based on what’s in your pantry and your flavor preferences. Chef Penny likes how pecans pair with sweet potato, but feel free to swap it with any other nut or remove entirely. Want to add whole wheat flour? Replace 15% of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat to give the cake some nuttiness and added nutritional value. (A word to the wise: Don’t replace the all-purpose entirely, or the bread will be too dry.)

Chef Penny also encourages bakers to always purchase whole nutmeg and grate it fresh; avoid ground nutmeg as it loses its essential oils and flavor quickly. This recipe also incorporates maple syrup which gives moisture and flavor to the cake. Look for darker and robust grades that are packed with flavor. 

Happy baking!

More from this series:


Bourbon Sweet Potato Quick Bread

Yield: One 9”x3” loaf cake



For the Cake:

  • 285 grams roasted sweet potatoes (one large or two smaller) 
  • 145 grams roasted banana (about 2 medium)

  • 1 ounce roasted fresh ginger, grated
  • 30 grams maple syrup
110 grams white sugar

  • 2 eggs

  • 125 grams unsalted butter, melted 
  • 15 grams vanilla extract 
  • 25 grams bourbon whisky 
  • 255 grams all-purpose flour

  • 1 gram (or 1/2 teaspoon) ground allspice

  • 1 gram (or 1/2 teaspoon) ground nutmeg

  • 5 grams ground cinnamon

  • 5 grams kosher salt 
  • 5 grams baking powder 

For the Swirl:

  • 60 grams light brown sugar

  • 10 grams cinnamon
80 grams pecans, finely chopped 
  • Pinch of salt

For the Glaze:

  • 50 grams confectioner’s sugar 
  • 5 grams bourbon whisky

  • 5 grams vanilla
  • 15 grams maple syrup
Pinch of salt 


  1. Preheat oven to 375˚F. 
  2. Quarter the sweet potatoes and cut ginger in half. Toss with a small amount of neutral oil and place cut side down on a parchment lined sheet tray. 
  3. Place bananas, whole and with skin on, on the same tray. Poke a few holes in the bananas to allow steam to escape.
  4. Roast for about 25 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are very tender. Bananas may turn black before the sweet potatoes are done. Remove the bananas when they are fully black. Allow them to cool completely. 

For the swirl: 

  1. Mix all ingredients together and reserve. 

For the Cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. 
  2. Remove the skin from the cooled sweet potatoes and mash with a fork to get the required amount. Repeat with the bananas.
  3. In a large bowl, big enough to fit all ingredients, combine the maple syrup, sugar, eggs, melted butter, vanilla and whisky. Add mashed banana, ginger and sweet potatoes and set aside. 
  4. Combine flour, spices, salt and baking powder then whisk together just to combine. 
  5. Add flour mixture to the wet ingredients and fold with a spatula until the dry ingredients are incorporated. The batter is thick, so avoid over-mixing or the cake can become tough. 
  6. Prepare a 9x3” loaf pan by spraying it with pan release and lining it with one piece of parchment that covers the bottom, and comes out over both long sides. 
  7. Add half of the batter to the prepared pan. Make a slice in the batter down the center, and fill with some of the swirl mix. Add the remaining batter on top, and repeat the slice down the center, and fill with swirl mix. 
  8. Using a knife, chopstick, skewer or similar tool, swirl the batter with the swirl mix incorporated, in a few simple strokes. Avoid touching the bottom of the pan. (There may be some left-over swirl mix. Use it to top your cake if you like.) 
  9. Bake for approximately 70-75 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool completely. 
  10. Remove cake from pan. 

For the Glaze: 

  1. Stir together all ingredients to make a thick glaze. Add as much or little as you would like, pour on top of the cake or drizzle as preferred when cake is completely cooled.


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