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1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Generously grease a 2-quart souffle or casserole dish with about 1 tablespoon of the butter; set aside.
2. Wrap potatoes in foil. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until soft to the touch. Remove from oven; discard foil. When cool enough to handle, remove and discard peels. In a large bowl, mash potatoes.
3. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F. In a large saucepan, bring milk, thyme, brown sugar, salt, and pepper to a low boil over medium heat. In a slow, steady stream, whisk cornmeal into milk mixture. Cook, whisking constantly, for 4 to 5 minutes, until mixture is thick and pulls away from bottom of pan. Remove from heat; cool slightly. Add potatoes, egg yolks, remaining 3 tablespoons butter, and baking powder to cornmeal mixture; stir to thoroughly combine.
4. In a large mixing bowl, beat egg whites with electric mixer until soft peaks form. Leaving obvious swirls of egg white, gently fold egg whites into the potato-cornmeal mixture.
5. Spoon batter into prepared dish. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F. Edges will be firm and the center a bit soft. Remove from oven. Let stand for 10 minutes. Serve warm.