It rained last week here in Los Angeles. Sure it was only for a few minutes and it was still in the 70’s and partly sunny while it was happening, but it still means the same thing. Fall has officially begun!!! As I have said in many previous posts, fall is my favorite season, and so when it comes I completely embrace all things autumn and harvest-related, like pumpkins, squash, and sweet potatoes. I had a bunch of egg yolks left over from a marshmallow frosting I’d made last weekend, and decided to use them for a custard, and to make it fall-y, I decided to add roasted sweet potatoes to the mix. I based this custard off of the one I made with blueberries and syrup a few months back, but actually baked this one in a large loaf pan that was already lined with syrup (like how flan is prepared) rather than pouring the chilled syrup over the hot custard the way Greeks do. I really liked it this way because the whole outside of the loaf had this nice and sweet syrupy crust on the outer layer, with the soft and gooey custard inside. Also, the entire loaf was eaten within 12 hours by four people, so it’s highly recommended!
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Peel the sweet potato and cut it into 2-inch square cubes. Evenly distribute the sweet potatoes pieces across the top of a greased baking pan. Cut 2 tablespoons of the butter into pea-size pieces over the pan so that the butter is evenly spread out over the sweet potato cubes, like in the photograph. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes feel fairly soft when poked with a fork.
Place the sweet potatoes in a medium sized bowl and mash them with a potato masher until they form a rough paste. It is okay if there are some chunky parts left. Set the bowl aside.
In a medium sized pot, bring the water and 1 cup of the sugar to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. After several minutes of boiling a thick and light brown syrup should form. Remove the pot from the heat and pour the syrup into an 8.5 x 4.5 inch loaf pan, moving the pan around so that all surfaces inside of the pan have a thin layer of syrup on them. Set the pan aside and lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a separate large saucepan, heat the milk over medium heat for 3 minutes. Add the semolina, cinnamon, cloves, salt, 1/2 cup of sugar, and the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Continue to heat the mixture until it becomes very hot but not boiling, then lower the heat.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks until well blended. Then begin to add the hot milk mixture to the egg mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well between additions, until 1/2 of the milk mixture has been added to the egg yolks. Then pour the egg yolk mixture into the milk mixture and stir until completely blended.
Continue to cook the mixture over low heat for another 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, mix in the mashed sweet potatoes, then pour the custard into the loaf pan and place the pan in the oven. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the custard develops a light golden brown crust on top. Serve warm or chilled.